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BETHLEHEM, PA-A three-party partnership that has long sought to obtain the Martin Tower complex on 52.3 acres at Eaton and Eighth avenues has acquired it from International Steel Group for $12 million. The acquisition of the former Bethlehem Steel site had been awaiting city council’s approval of a zoning amendment so a residential community of up to 945 units could be developed.

A council spokeswoman confirms to GlobeSt.com that the requested zoning amendment was approved on the stipulation that the 21-story Martin Tower be retained. With that done, a first quarter 2007 groundbreaking is being planned.

ISG, a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Mittal Steel, acquired the three-building, 1.2-million-sf complex following Bethlehem Steel’s bankruptcy in mid-2003. James Vesey, Jerome Kranzel and James Sheehan, senior directors in the Philadelphia office of Cushman & Wakefield Inc., represented ISG and also procured the buyer, who is identified as a partnership led by the Boca Raton, FL-based Herrick Co., which also has offices in Northern New Jersey and is headed by Norton Herrick. Vesey confirms the other partners are locally based Wind-Drift Real Estate, headed by Lewis Ronca, and Ashley Development, which is owned by Lou Pektor, a prolific developer in the region.

Ronca confirms the overall construction cost of the project is estimated at $200 million to $310 million. He tells GlobeSt.com that “the tower will be converted into between 170 and 200 condos.” Among the other planned residences are two-story townhouses and four-story, stacked townhouses along with “a small amount of retail,” he says. Prices for the condos and townhouses have not yet been determined. Ronca anticipates a four-year build-out.

The 643,570-sf Martin Tower is the centerpiece of the property as “the signature building in the Lehigh Valley and the tallest, most visible suburban high rise in the Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton market,” Vesey says. A three-story, 253,452-sf office annex is connected to the tower plus there are two single-story industrial buildings with nearly 95,000 sf.

Currently, a division of Dunn & Bradstreet occupies “a big chunk, about 300,000 sf of the complex,” Vesey says. “It will relocate to a build-to-suit that has been approved in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park, leaving the complex vacant.”

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