About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, July 25, 2014

Negrao To Develop City Block Along Linden Street

Floyd Best General Store has been demolished for Negrao development 
An entire city block along Linden Street, between Johnston Drive and Macada Road, will soon be home to both an assisted living facility as well as a pre-school center to be owned and operated by Joseph Negrao. At a July 23 hearing, the Zoning Hearing Board, by a 4-0 vote, granted a special exception and several dimensional variances for the project to proceed.

Negrao is the owner of Alexandria Manor, a popular assisted living facility that already has two locations in Nazareth and one in Bath. In 2005, he received a green light from zoners to build an 83-unit  facility on 2.64 acres at the southwest corner of Johnston Drive and Linden Streets, directly across the street from Elias Market.

In 2012, he decided to try something new. Instead of an assisted living center, he proposed operating a pre-school center called Rainbow Academy at the site. Rainbow, which currently operates 18 New Jersey locations, offers pre-school children infant sign language, musical beginnings and reading and writing readiness. Although zoners at that time unanimously granted a special exception for a 180-student pre-school, they ruled out Saturday classes for physical activities like gymnastics and karate. They also placed an age cap on the Summer camp, restricting it to children 10 years old and younger.

Instead of building, Negrao continued to buy properties along Linden Street, including the iconic but dilapidated Floyd R. Best General Store at the northwestern corner of Macada and Linden, along with several other residences that have seen better days, with driveways that empty out onto Linden Street.

With these purchases, Negrao approached zoners with a new plan. Instead of a personal care facility or pre-school center, how about both?  Represented by Bethlehem Attorney Jim Preston, he persuaded zoners to grant the necessary approvals that will change the location and sizes of both previously approved designs.
Kevin Horvath, from Keystone Engineers, showed the board a plan that will locate the 1-story Rainbow Academy at Macada and Linden, along with a 6,800 sq ft outdoor play area to the immediate north. A 3-story personal care facility, comprising 20,300 sq ft, will be at the other end of the block, where Linden and Johnston intersect. Horvath told zoners the stone and stucco buildings will be close to Linden to act as a buffer for parking behind the facilities. There will be no access from Linden. Visitors will use a 24' wide access road at the western end of the properties, connecting Johnston Drive and Macada Road.

The personal care facility will remain an 83-unit facility, but in a larger building because the trend is for private rooms with kitchenettes, explained Joe Negrao, Jr.

Horvath told zoners that, in his opinion, the plans submitted by Negrao provide a "safer environment" along Linden Street, an arterial road, than the current arrangement with residential driveways.

There was no opposition to the relief requested, but Johnston Drive resident Al Bernotas voiced his support.

In other business, the Board granted Jarice Bonilla's request for a special exception so that she could operate a day care at 734-738 Pawnee Street. Bonilla will care for between 4 and 56 children at the 3-bedroom home with a fenced in yard. "I'm looking for babies," she said. "I love babies." She will operate on weekdats between 6 am and 6 pm. In addition to the xoning approval, she is required to obtain a state license, and the City will inspect the property.


Ron Beitler said...

Any pictures floating out there of the land development posted online? Can't find any.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ron, I have a picture of the plan, but did not post it. It is not a conceptual drawing with little stick people, but a real plan. I will email to you.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone clear this with Abe Atiyeh? He lives within 3 miles so the project warrants a lawsuit...

Anonymous said...

Where were the NIMBYs at? where was Al Bernatoss and Fong SHWAY? did they protest this blemish in a RR area?

Anonymous said...

Its a shame that an old historic structure such as the Floyd Best building is going to be demolished. Why is the City not looking at some sort of adaptive reuse, reconstruction of some type or something to help preserve this icon. Its just a shame that these developers destroy history in the pursuit of bucks. Hoping that Ron Beitler can chime in hear. I read that he was instrumental in convincing South Whitehall to do something and work with the developer of the King George site. He has expertise in this field and can maybe help the City with ideas in preserving the historic components of the site.

Anonymous said...

The city could buy it and put Karen Dolan in charge of it. Then we would all have some thing to talk about.

Anonymous said...

It's been demolished for months now. Not sure if an adaptive use or repurposing of the structure is feasible anymore. Maybe they could turn the foundation into a swimming pool.

Ron Beitler said...

Thanks but wouldnt say instrumental. LOTS of passionate ppl were involved in preserving the KGI. Total team effort. I blogged about it, attended some meetings, and tried to help a couple of the key folks navigate the zoning hearing board proceedings which can be overwhelming if your not familiar with the process.

This particular project I was interested in checking out the plans because I remembered seeing a sketch and thinking the concept looked decent. Traditional setback, parking in rear, street sensitivity, access management ect. all good stuff. Would hate to see a cookie cutter strip at this location. It's the kind of infill like I'd like to see on Hamilton Blvd. That's why I was interested. Right now the character of Hamilton is closer to Macarther Rd. than the Blvd concept outlined in the recent PCTI study.

Always cool to see existing stock incorporated but I know little about this particular building other than from pictures and driving by it a couple times it looks like at one point it was a very charming little general store. No clue if the floyd best building has any meaningful historic or architectural merit.

I know that in S Whitehall Atul Patel has a much better more unique project with a preserved KGI an integrated part of it. And I also bet more valuable in the end.