State and local officials spent time in Tamaqua touring the 12-unit Liberty Hall apartment building, which contractors estimate will be completed by mid-June.
In 2009, the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership purchased the building, located at 420 East Broad St., when it went into foreclosure, with the intent of selling it to ABC, Alliance for Building Communities (ABC) of Allentown. In May 2011, ABC purchased the property with plans on developing the $3.8 million project into a viable housing apartment building. The groundbreaking was held in August 2011.
The 18,000-square-foot, abandoned, brick building was used previously as "Liberty Hall," and served as a venue for many social and sporting events for the community in the early 1900s. Since the 1920s the site has been used for multiple commercial and industrial uses, to include a shirt factory, archery range, Aiken Building and Supply store and Sprite Manufacturing.
The building is now being renovated by ABC into a dozen income limited, affordable living units. Five of the units will be two bedroom units, while five others will be three bedroom units. The remaining two units will be handicap accessible, with one including an elevator.
Pat Freeh-Stefanek, ABC's affiliate director, and member of the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership, said, "Tenants will enjoy their own covered parking below the units as well as direct access to 10 of the apartments."
The building will also house an office, community room and laundry room. Stefanek added that monthly rent will range from $433 to under $600.
About five years ago and only a block away, ABC had taken on a similar project that involved successfully converting a dilapidated shoe factory on Hazle Street into apartments and townhomes, called 401 Hazle Street Apartments, Hazle Associates, LP. Combining both the Hazle Street property and this one, ABC will have a total of 26 units on the site. This does not include the ABC Tamaqua Hi-Rise Inc., which has 117 units and is also owned by ABC.
Linda Yulanavage, executive director, Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce, said, "Liberty Hall is located in the borough's business and historic district. It had been abandoned for years ... The next step could have been to demolish it."
She added that the property will help commerce and also keep good people in the community.
Yulanavage, who is also the vice president of the Tamaqua's Historic Architectural Review Commission, exclaimed, "We could have lost an important piece of history."
Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-124) pointed out that without the renovations, the building could have ended up being a real eyesore.
"Work is estimated to be done by June 15," said, John Panzitta, Panzitta Enterprises, Wilkes-Barre. "I want to thank ABC for having confidence in us to do such a big project," he added.
"The building is beautiful. As in the past, ABC has done a fine job," Kevin Steigerwalt, borough manager, said.
Representatives pointed out that financing for the project ranges from an array of sources, to include public funds, bank loans and private investments. They also said the grand opening is planned for sometime in July.
"Open to low- and middle-income families, the building is a welcome addition to the borough," said Sen. David Argall (R-29). "I walked by this building hundreds of times on my way to school and I can tell you that this is the best this building has looked in my lifetime – and probably even in my father's lifetime. This is a wonderful way to breathe new life into an old community."
For more information about the project, go to www.housingabc.org or call Stefanek at (570) 668-0313.