Apartment homage to historic theater gets thumbs-up
A proposed five-story apartment complex set to pay tribute to an early 20th-century Easton movie theater is getting good reviews from the city.
The Easton Planning Commission granted preliminary approval in a unanimous vote Wednesday night to the proposal for the North Third Street site where the theater once stood. Peron Development of Bethlehem hopes to begin construction in March.
Peron’s John Callahan said the number of units has been reduced to 68 from the original proposal of 70 because of space constraints at the site, which is now a city-owned parking lot.
Commission Chairman Charles Elliott said two requirements were attached to the approval: the developer must get a certificate of appropriateness from the city historical commission if the design of the building is changed; and must agree to maintain the adjacent Coburns Alley.
Project engineer David Wilson of Civitas Regio engineers of Allentown said the complex will have 43 onebedroom and 25 two-bedroom apartments with retail space on the front of the building, facing North Third Street.
Callahan estimated the project at about $14 million and said it would be called the Seville, which was a vaudeville and movie theater that stood on the site in 1929. It was renamed the Boyd Theater in 1933.
According to CinemaTreasures. org, the Boyd was demolished in 1972 after showing its last movie, “The Ten Commandments,” and the property converted to a parking lot.
The project must now go before the city Zoning Hearing Board to obtain variances that Callahan said include one for having retail space only in front of the first floor rather than the required entire floor. It would also a need a variance for the building’s footprint to be larger than required and providing less parking.
Callahan said sufficient parking for tenants is expected to be available in a 400-space city parking garage set to be built about 100 feet away on North Fourth and Church streets. He said spaces in the garage would be leased by the tenants.
Rents for the apartments are expected to range from $1,500 to $1,800.
“Our perspective is that opportunities for upscale housing in Easton is there. It would bring more folks living downtown,” Callahan said.
Charles Malinchak is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.
A parking lot occupies the site of the former Boyd Theater in Easton, but a developer wants to replace that with apartments.