Eas­ton of­fi­cials to take tem­po­rary own­er­ship of Ste­wart Silk Mill

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Christina Tatu

Eas­ton plans to take tem­po­rary own­er­ship of the for­mer Ste­wart Silk Mill in the city’s South Side so the prop­erty can qual­ify for a $751,350 grant from the state’s De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment to be used for environmen­tal cleanup.

The state re­quires the city to own the prop­erty at 620 Coal St. that’s slated for af­ford­able hous­ing and re­tail in or­der to qual­ify for the money, said John Kings­ley, Eas­ton’s Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment.

The cost of the environmen­tal cleanup is $1 mil­lion and will be matched by a 25 per­cent con­tri­bu­tion from the de­vel­op­ers, PIRHL, or Part­ners for In­come Re­stricted Hous­ing Lead­er­ship with of­fices in Cleve­land, Chicago and Burling­ton, New Jersey, and Tim Harrison of Long Is­land, Kings­ley said.

The work will start in Novem­ber and is sched­uled to fin­ish in April.

Cleanup in­cludes re­moval of as­bestos con­tain­ing ma­te­ri­als, check­ing the prop­erty for lead-based paint, soil re­me­di­a­tion and un­der­ground stor­age tank re­moval and de­mo­li­tion of re­main­ing build­ings on site, Kings­ley said.

The site re­quires re­me­dial ex­ca­va­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 1,188 cu­bic yards of im­pacted soil. A 10,000 gal­lon un­der­ground stor­age tank that re­mains on the prop­erty will also be ex­ca­vated, cleaned and re­moved, Kings­ley said.

Seven struc­tures will be de­mol­ished in­clud­ing rub­ble from two ex­ist­ing build­ings, he said.

The state has com­mit­ted the money for the environmen­tal cleanup, but no funds have been re­leased. The pro­gram re­im­burses ex­penses that have been in­curred, KIngs­ley said.

He said the de­vel­op­ers will put up the money and be re­im­bursed. The de­vel­op­ers are also pay­ing for the cost of the tem­po­rary prop­erty trans­fer, which in­cludes pay­ing for in­surance and hir­ing a third-party to over­see the work.

City Coun­cil unan­i­mously in­tro­duced a res­o­lu­tion for the tem­po­rary trans­fer Wed­nes­day night and plan to vote on the trans­fer on Oct. 9.

The pro­posed mixed-use de­vel­op­ment would trans­form the long­va­cant and blighted Ste­wart Silk Mill into 27,000-square-feet of re­tail and af­ford­able hous­ing.

The first phase of “The Mill at Eas­ton” calls for 55 af­ford­able apart­ment units — or 11 one-bed­room, one-bath units; 30 two-bed­room, one-bath units and 14 three-bed­room, two-bath units.

The first phase will also in­clude a 2,500-square-foot club­house that will house sup­port ser­vices pro­vided by the Eas­ton Area Neigh­bor­hood Cen­ter with a “health com­po­nent” and fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy classes.

Lara Sch­wa­ger, vice pres­i­dent of de­vel­op­ment for PIRHL, told The Morn­ing Call in July that she ex­pects con­struc­tion to start next year.

PIRHL is work­ing with Harrison, the de­vel­oper be­hind Hamil­ton Cross­ings in Lower Ma­cungie, on the re­tail part of the pro­ject, which would be phased in later.

The pro­ject was awarded $1.2 mil­lion in tax cred­its and $1 mil­lion in fund­ing in July from the Penn­syl­va­nia Hous­ing Fi­nance Agency.

Sch­wa­ger has said the $1 mil­lion will be used to de­mol­ish and clear the site and the tax cred­its will be used for the first phase of con­struc­tion.

The four-acre Ste­wart Silk Mill site has been on the city’s blight list for years. City of­fi­cials have ap­plauded the pro­posed re-de­vel­op­ment say­ing it will meet the need for work­force hous­ing in Eas­ton.

Christina Tatu can be reached at 610-820-6583 or [email protected]

A Tues­day night fire de­stroyed a Co­play du­plex, dis­plac­ing sev­eral oc­cu­pants.

No one was in­jured in the 10:45 p.m. fire in the first block of South Fourth Street.

“I was dry­ing my hair up­stairs when I heard some­thing,” said a shocked, tear­ful Maryan Nas­sar, who shared her half of the du­plex with her two cousins and cat.

Nas­sar’s cousin, Lau­ren Sabini, said it was the smoke alarm.

“I ran out the front door, think­ing Maryan had gone out the back, but I didn’t re­al­ize she was still in the house look­ing for her cat,” Sabini said.

Nas­sar and her tiger cat, Wally, made it safely out. Wally then dis­ap­peared, but it turned out neigh­bors had taken him in so he wouldn’t get lost.

“I was watch­ing TV when I heard some­one ring­ing my door bell,” said Anne Killeen, who oc­cu­pied the du­plex’s other half. “They told me to get out be­cause there was a fire. When I came out, I looked in through [Nas­sar’s and Sabini’s] pic­ture win­dow and saw it was full of flames inside.”

Killeen said she lost ev­ery­thing on her side of the du­plex.

The house was en­gulfed in flames by the time mul­ti­ple fire de­part­ments be­gan ar­riv­ing min­utes later. The Red Cross was con­tacted.

Nas­sar and Sabini planned to stay with rel­a­tives while neigh­bors of­fered to let Killeen stay with them.

Fire of­fi­cials were un­avail­able to com­ment on what caused the fire or whether a state po­lice fire mar­shal was con­tacted.

Morn­ing Call re­porter An­drew Scott can be reached at 610-820-6508 or as­[email protected]

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