Parkland Press

Friday, June 5, 2020
File photoAllentown State Hospital, 1600 Hanover Ave., Allentown, which was in operation Oct. 3, 1913 until Dec. 17, 2010, is set for demolition in July. File photoAllentown State Hospital, 1600 Hanover Ave., Allentown, which was in operation Oct. 3, 1913 until Dec. 17, 2010, is set for demolition in July.

State hospital demolition to begin in July

Thursday, February 20, 2020 by Susan Bryant in Local News

A Montgomery County demolition and environmental contractor has been awarded a $12.7 million contract to demolish the former Allentown State Hospital off Hanover Avenue in east Allentown.

On July 2, 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf signed S.B. 701 which was introduced by state Sen. Patrick Browne, R-16th.

The bill authorized the competitive solicitation committee, which included Browne, state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-132nd, and official representatives of Allentown and Bethlehem to review proposals and recommend a buyer.

Neuber Demolition and Environmental Services Inc., Gilbertsville, was selected on Jan. 6 over seven other bidders.

According to Neuber’s proposal, demolition on the buildings is expected to cost around $6.6 million with HazMat abatement inside the buildings to cost $3.9 million and environmental remediation outside the buildings to cost around $2.2 million.

The state department of general services gave Neuber top scores for both its technical and cost proposals.

The next cheapest proposal was $14.9 million. The most expensive was $25 million.

Demolition on the buildings is expected to begin July 10 and to be completed by February 2021 with a contract completion date of May 2021.

“We are unique among our competition because we offer the complete package — 26 years of experience, a talented roster of employees who can address the broad spectrum of needs on any job we tackle and the right equipment for even the largest jobs,” Neuber’s website states.

Developer Nat Hyman of Allentown offered to buy the property in 2019.

He emailed the Press on Feb. 17.

“I think it is a terrible loss of a beautiful, historic structure which could have absolutely been preserved,” Hyman said. “I likewise think it is a shameless waste of taxpayer dollars and a willful neglect for that which the residents of Allentown want.”

“They will be spending over $12 million to knock it down and had previously entered to into an agreement to sell the land for $2.3 million, a $10 million loss for the taxpayers,” he added. “I offered to pay them the same $2.3 million, they could leave the buildings precisely as they are today and I would refurbish them. A profit to the taxpayers and a preservation of our history.

“I have a long career of preserving buildings precisely like this one. They refused my offer. At best this is incompetence and at worst it is corruption. Either way, the citizens of Allentown are the losers for it.”

The psychiatric hospital which originally began operating on Oct. 3, 1913, consist of approximately 850,000 square feet and sits on a 195 acres campus.

The psychiatric hospital, which once served Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe and Pike counties, closed its doors in December 2010.