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Catty council announces Iron Works sale agreement

At a July 27 special meeting, before the monthly council workshop meeting, Catasauqua Borough Council announced an agreement of sale for lot 2 of the Iron Works property.

The agreement of sale announcement was approved by a 4-2 vote of council members. Councilmen Paul Cmil and Brian Bartholomew voted no.

The land is approximately 10.6 acres. It will be a mixed-use property including condominiums and apartments, various small businesses, trails and walking paths and a potential waterfront district.

Dunn Twiggar Company LLC, a private real estate developer, is the purchaser. The sale price is $650,000.

The next step is to have a 30-day public comment period. It is expected the agreement of sale can be approved at the September council meeting.

Work may begin in the spring of 2021 and could possibly be completed in five years.

The announced agreement of sale is available from the borough’s office. Contact the borough office to submit a right-to-know request in order to receive an electronic version of the agreement.

Borough Solicitor Thomas Dinkelacker explained the agreement announced is a no-bid contract.

The borough advertised twice and received no bids. Subsequent to the lack of bids, the borough contacted numerous developers but was unable to attract an interested party.

Dunn Twiggar reviewed what the development goals are with the borough and it entered the agreement, which is contingent on the borough securing grant dollars to ensure a funding stream to keep the project viable.

Cmil expressed reservations about moving forward due to the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and restaurants.

“I am reluctant to spend money if things are not clear,” Cmil said.

Council President Vincent Smith, who has been involved with and an advocate for the project since its inception, said the project was vetted through Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and other organizations and has strong support from local legislators.

To date, more than $3 million has been conferred from the commonwealth to the borough to help fund the project, Smith noted.

If there is not suitable continued grant funding, Dunn Twiggar has the option of vacating the agreement.

Bartholomew asked what Dunn Twiggar’s role is in the project. Ron Gawlik, of Pidcock Company, explained Dunn Twiggar would develop a detailed plan moving forward on the estimated $42 million project.

Smith expressed the state is committed to the project and anticipates continued grant funding. This Iron Works project is the No. 1 project in Lehigh County and the No. 8 project in the state, he added.

“We are in a renaissance in the Lehigh Valley,” Smith said, noting this project continues the growth and rebirth in local areas.

Borough Manager Steven Travers also expressed confidence the commonwealth will continue to support the Iron Works project.

Chad Helmer, a consultant charged to assist with securing grant funding, reported he expects state funding to continue as well.

Smith noted when the plans are developed by Dunn Twiggar and the project gets closer to being shovel ready, the availability of grants increases.

Helmer reported the project can generate up to $350,000 a year and can create 80 to 100 jobs.

Smith said there are quality-of-life improvements planned for the downtown section. He added the borough has been deemed as the third or fourth most walkable town in the area.