By: Brian Pedersen
August 8, 2019
After acquiring Easton Planning Commission approval on Wednesday night, The Commodore project is a step closer to starting construction this fall.
The project involves constructing an eight-story building in downtown Easton with a rooftop restaurant, several floors of upscale apartments and office/retail space on the lower levels. The building will include an addition to the existing Kaplan Building at 100 Northampton St., which the developer will incorporate into the project.
The next step comes Monday when the project is expected go before the city’s Historic District Commission, which also must review the project. It also has to go before City Council for approval, said developer Garett Vassel, founding president of Optima Durant Group LLC in New York City.
He said he is hoping to start construction on the 91,500-square-foot building sometime in the fall and to wrap it up in fall 2020.
He is using Optima Durant Construction, Artefact Architecture of Bethlehem and Beers Engineering of Lehighton.
He said he pursued the project based on the business growth and activity he has seen in Easton.
“I think Easton is a really exciting place to be,” Vassel said.
His company acquired the Kaplan Building last year. He said he wanted to preserve and restore its architectural features rather than simply demolishing it all and building new.
“I am trying to build this building very thoughtfully,” Vassel said.
The building would include predominantly two-bedroom units, with some one-bedroom units and, potentially, studios.
He plans to offer about 15,000 square feet of office space, which he described as a considerable risk.
The overall estimated cost of the project could be more than $15 million, he added.
The funding is mostly private, but he received some public funds in the form of a $3 million state grant from the Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program.
He estimated that the property would generate $700,000 in income, city and state taxes each year once it is operating.
Vassel will offer some parking on site and more spaces nearby to the north of the property.