Saturday, October 10, 2009

Easton Wins

If there was a contest for "best city of the week," I think that Easton might win for its activities last week.

Bethlehem: Lehigh football beat Georgetown (yay), Firehouse ribbon-cutting (couldn't find any photos), a new dance floor at Starter's (+2.5 points)

Allentown: Mayoral debate (-.5 points)

Easton: Hosted Urban Land Institute's "The Ultimate Green Choice: Urban Revitalization - City of Easton Case Study" on Thursday. Hosted Movies at the Mill at the Silk Mill on Friday. Hosted Apple Fest at the Easton Farmer's Market on Saturday. (+10 points)

I took part in the ULI conference, wherein the busy people of Easton took a few minutes to tell us about their urban revitalization progress, especially in residential neighborhoods (including some before-and-after comparisons of Easton Redevelopment Authority (ERA)'s blighted or vacant structures within the City limits). We also heard Easton's plans for the Silk Mill project.

The Simon Silk Mill is a 330,000 square foot historic complex in Easton's West Ward. It is easily accessible from the 13th Street exit from Route 22. The ERA, which owns the Mill complex, is considering it as a major arts center and destination, with buildings ranging from light industrial artist workspaces to media technology, as well as more traditional artist studio spaces. Artist enterprise facilities may be offered as condominium units and/or rentals, retail, restaurant, and plenty of parking. It will also be a part of the Bushkill Creek trail, which will begin near the intersection of Fourth Street and Route 22, where Lafayette College is planning a fabulous upgrade (once all those nasty hubcaps are out of the way).

The mayor then took the 90 of us on a walking "tour." We began with a history lesson and self-guided condo tour at The Grand Eastonian. We then walked down Restaurant Row, aka Ferry Street, where Sette Luna and Ocean were getting ready for the happy hour and dinner crowds and construction on the King's Drycleaner building and former Lipkin's space (soon to be restaurants as well) was evident. We walked past the Crayola Factory and Canal Museum, much to the amusement of the hassids who were parked at one of the wrought-iron tables. The Northampton County Historical and Geneological Society building was next, actively under construction and expected to open next year.

Here's an interior shot of the multi-purpose space in the Nurture Nature Center building (516 Northampton Street). It was once a fancy movie theater and will soon be available for event rentals and public events. Another part of the building will house the Easton Farmer's Market (indoors, off-season! Brilliant) and a few other office and retail tenants.

Emily, Katie and I were just at the State Theatre last week to see David Sedaris, but we didn't have a lot of time to gawk at the scenery. Most original architecture has been carefully preserved. Here, Denise Smith lets us know that this room has a "ship" theme (starboard ahead).

The front lobby of the State Theater (below) used to be a grand old bank.

In case you were curious, the red bags everyone is carrying are Easton Farmer's Market totes.

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