Dairy building may have buyer interest
Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners is hoping the lure of possible state funding will attract a buyer for a dilapidated building that once housed Lehigh Valley Dairy.
Howard Lieberman, executive director of Whitehall Township Industrial & Commercial Development Authority, told the commissioners at their workshop meeting Monday there will be a meeting July 9 with the owner of the property and two prospective buyers. He said things “appear to be moving forward.”
“There is no agreement of sale, but there is enough activity to think that something could happen in the next 30 days,” he added.
Lieberman said the former dairy property is one of six projects the township authority has had authorized for redevelopment through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. Whoever buys the property would have until Sept. 1 to apply for RACP state grants that would be funded in October.
“We are using the RACP as leverage,” Lieberman said.
The dairy project has been authorized for up to $6.5 million.
The MacArthur Road dairy opened in 1934 under ownership of the Lehigh Valley Cooperative Farmers and closed in 1989. In its heyday, the dairy was a familiar fixture in the Lehigh Valley with its popular dairy bar.
Whitehall High School graduations were also held in the four-story Art Deco building.
However, the 275,000-square-foot concrete building has fallen into disrepair over the years.
Lieberman said the southern end of the building has been partially demolished and has been patched with plywood. He said three weeks ago, there was a partial roof collapse at the building, and recently, vandals got in and spray painted graffiti in the lobby.
“It’s getting really bad,” he said. “Whoever purchases the property is going to have a lot of work to do.”
Lieberman said the northern end of the building is in better condition and houses a pharmaceutical company.
Lee Rackus, bureau chief of planning, zoning and development, said last week the township issued the property owner a notice of violation because the sprinklers are not operational.
“There is a tremendous amount of work to be done there,” she said.
The building, owned by LVD Realty Inc., is listed for $2.1 million, but Lieberman said it would cost millions more to make the property usable.
“The building is in horrendous shape,” Lie- berman said. “There is no viable electric, no viable plumbing, and it would take 50 dumpsters to clean it out. At least it doesn’t appear there is anything hazardous.”
He said the potential buyers would be looking to use the property for light manufacturing or technology.
Other township projects authorized for RACP funding are $5 million for the emergency services building; $2.5 million for the municipal complex gas line extension project; $1.5 million for the MacArthur Road north illumination and streetscape improvement; $1.1 million for Grape Street illumination and streetscape improvement; and $2.5 million for MacArthur Road south illumination and streetscape improvement.
Lieberman also reported the 2017 celebration marking the 75th anniversary of the naming of MacArthur Road was more successful than organizers had even expected and raised $19,000 for a community clock.
“We had a really good year,” he said.
The next township board of commissioners meeting is 7 p.m. July 9.