Easton officials to take temporary ownership of Stewart Silk Mill
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]