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By Next Summer, Downtown Allentown Could See a Second Food Hall

November 15, 2019

Originally published by Jennifer Sheehan at mcall.com.

An eight-vendor food hall is in the works as part of the redevelopment of the former PPL Plaza in Allentown, the developer announced Friday. (Kristen Harrison/The Morning Call)

Where there are workers, there are food places galore.

Allentown is seeing a resurgence of daytime workers in the downtown, and now it will get its second food hall.

An eight-vendor food hall is in the works as part of the redevelopment of the former PPL Plaza, the developer said Friday.

The project inside the newly renamed Grand Plaza is targeted to open next summer. With that schedule, it would mean Allentown would have two food halls open in one year. The Downtown Allentown Market opened officially in September, less than two blocks away on the city’s Arts Walk.

Owner and developer Somera Road Inc. said in a news release the new food hall would be called will&co., paying tribute to William Allen, the founder of Allentown. The 6,000-square-foot food hall would feature six interior dining options, including a coffee shop and a full-service bar. Two outdoor kiosks will have a permanent vendor in addition to a rotating seasonal option.

With an estimated 17,000 people living and working downtown, and an additional 5,600 commuting to Center City each weekday, a food hall makes sense, according to Basel Bataineh, a vice president with Somera Road, a New York City commercial real estate investment firm that acquired the building this year.

The food hall is part of the redevelopment of the former PPL Plaza, an eight-story building at 835 W. Hamilton St. The building had been mired in foreclosure proceedings and has been mostly vacant since spring 2018, when Talen Energy moved a couple of blocks away to Tower Six at Hamilton and Sixth streets.

The new will&co. wouldn’t be the only new food hall coming to the Lehigh Valley next year. The Trolley Barn Public Market is set to open by May at 116 E. Broad St., Quakertown, in a 19,000-square-foot market housing more than a dozen vendors, including Easton’s Bank Street Creamery and Two Rivers Brewing.

The Easton Public Market at 325 Northampton St. opened in 2016 and was the Lehigh Valley’s first “food hall” style market, a precursor to the fast-casual dining surge that’s been pushing through the U.S. during the last three years. The market is 16,000 square feet and has more than a dozen vendors.

The Downtown Allentown Market is 12,000 square feet and offers nine vendors, including “Fresh Kitchen” from celebrity chef Robert Irvine.

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