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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, June 17, 2013

New Visitor Center a "Permanent Gift"

Located at 711 E. 1st St, Bethlehem's $5.5 million Visitor Center is open 10-4 daily.
Bethlehem has a new Visitor Center, next to the towering and rusting blast furnaces at SteelStacks. According to Mayor John Callahan, Master of Ceremonies at the grand opening on June 14, it's a gateway to the entire Lehigh Valley.

kiosks with interactive maps
Nestled next to rusting and towering blast furnaces that at one time produced hot molten iron, the 16,000 sq ft visitor center is an adaptive reuse of the Steel Company's Stock House, built in 1863 to store the iron ore needed for hungry kilns. Contractor Boyle Construction preserved the original fieldstone exterior walls and 30-foot-high arch windows at the Steel Company's oldest remaining building. But a new, two-level interior, includes three computer kiosks with interactive touch-screen maps, a box office for ArtsQuest events, gift shop, restrooms and offices.

The Lehigh Valley's tourism czar, Discover LV's Mike Stershic, lauded Callahan, who promoted the concept when the Stock House was a crumbling structure at a dead steel giant. "Most of us thought he was absolutely nuts," said Stershic. "He willed a lot of this to happen," added Jeff Parks, who himself willed both Musikfest and ArtsQuest. Parks also gave credit to Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority's Executive Director, Tony Hanna, who is using grants and financing tools like a $27 million Tax Increment Financing bond to transform aging and rusting steel buildings into an arts and entertainment district.

Rebecca Hannont and Reba Marblestone man the box office
Parks himself was hailed by Callahan as the Lehigh Valley's "chief visionary officer." Parks explained that this $5.5 million investment in our history might seem expensive, but the Chinese have recently allocated $300 billion for the arts and culture to encourage more creativity. Parks called the SteelStacks campus a "permanent gift ... that will attract the creative workforce that we need to be successful in the future."

Located at 711 E. First St., the Visitor Center will be open from 10 AM to 4 PM daily.

Now silent and still, Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces abut Visitor Center 

Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority Exec Director Tony Hanna, with his bride of 40 years, Pat.

The steelworkers are gone, but not forgotten

Contractor Sean Boyle used old Bethlehem Steel drawings 

Mayor John Callahan has brought Bethlehem an arts and entertainment district 

Jeff Parks heralded as "chief visionary officer" of Lehigh Valley

Jeff Parks video here.

Blogger's Note: This is what I like to call a "puff piece." Having done a few, I've got to tell you I had no idea they were so hard. It takes me about ten times longer to do these than my usual bottom-feeding posts. But there are many more good things and people in the Lehigh Valley than bad. I'd like to slam Boyle for his numerous campaign contributions, but there he was, picking up garbage that people had dropped and putting it in the trash. How do you slam a guy who does that? 

I'll figure out a way. 


Anonymous said...

This is really the result of the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority that put this all together. As for Stersic, he continues to feed off the largesse of the taxpayers, while many try to figure out exactly what he gets paid for.

The brochures haven't changed in years. Another do-nothing insider job, sucking off the public teat. He is his own biggest fan.

County council should ask exactly what he has accomplished for all the money he gets. He does go to man. many wine and cheese events.

Uncle Remus said...

looks like hanna has been engulfing the wine and cheese