Successful entrepreneur and alumnus returns to Easton with upcoming development projects

Reilly%2C+CEO+of+the+City+Investment+Corporation%2C+plans+to+expand+into+Easton+after+success+with+urban+development+in+Allentown+and+Philadelphia.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Discover+Lehigh+Valley%29

Reilly, CEO of the City Investment Corporation, plans to expand into Easton after success with urban development in Allentown and Philadelphia. (Photo courtesy of Discover Lehigh Valley)

Maya Nylund, Staff Writer

As recently reported, development projects in the coming years may bring as many as 1,000 new residents into Easton. Much of this development will be spearheaded by Lafayette alumnus J.B. Reilly ’83, whose City Investment Corporation has been recommended by a citizen’s committee to move forward with a development project on Pine Street. This project, called The Marquis, would convert a deteriorating parking garage into a residential complex with several storefronts.

Reilly, who has two children who also graduated from Lafayette in 2016 and 2018 respectively, is in his fourteenth year as a trustee at Lafayette. In his time as a student, he studied economics and was a member of  Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He also studied abroad for a semester at the London School of Economics.  

After graduating from Lafayette, Reilly moved on to work as an accountant with the prestigious firm Arthur Andersen. He became a certified public accountant before attending Fordham University School of Law. It was there that he began to pursue real estate, a field in which he has worked for the past 35 years.  

A native of the Lehigh Valley, Reilly’s early real estate involvement, which included a home building company and an apartment development business, was based in Philadelphia and Allentown. The latter location became the primary focus of his real estate ventures about ten years ago when he formed City Center Investment Corporation with the explicit purpose of redeveloping Allentown.  

“There was some state legislation that was enacted to help spur investment in cities like Allentown, and since I had some real estate holdings in Allentown I became interested in development because of some of the incentives,” Reilly explained. “We started about ten years ago in the planning process; our first building was completed about seven years ago, and since that  time we’ve completed about $800 million worth of office, residential and hospitality projects.” 

The focus of City Center Investment Corporation, Reilly said, has been “really to revitalize downtown Allentown into a vibrant, sustainable city. We focus a lot on placemaking: you’re creating a place that people want to be in.”

City Center’s past projects have included five office buildings totaling about 1.2 million square feet.

“[This created] kind of the center for financial services and business headquarters here in downtown Allentown,” Reilly said.

Other projects include about 1000 luxury apartments, with 400 new apartments currently in construction. City Center’s portfolio further includes a number of retail and restaurant projects.

“We’ve become a bit of an urban redevelopment expert and so we were looking to move into another market area where we thought that we could utilize our experience and skills,” Reilly said. “The opportunity came up in Easton to bid on a project. It’s very similar to projects we’ve done here in Allentown.”

Reilly noted that the Easton project is the creation of many different spaces, including retail, housing and parking.

“It’s a large mixed-use redevelopment project, which will result in a combination of retail, residential and parking uses, and more specifically we’re going to be building 274 apartments, 300 structured parking spaces and then another seven or 8000 square feet of retail space,” he said. 

Reilly attributes the success of his proposal to his enterprise’s focus on community relations.

“We are developing projects for the mutual benefit of the community,” Reilly said. “We’re not successful if the community isn’t successful.”

City Center, he explained, seeks to design projects that will “help support the businesses, the neighborhoods, in those communities, as well as creating the right fiscal impact for the city that we’re building in.”

At this point, the Easton City Council has accepted the citizen committee’s recommendation for City Center to move forward with their proposed Easton project. The corporation is in the process of finalizing an agreement with the city to purchase the land.  

“Easton has gone through an incredible transformation over the last fifteen years or so. For me personally, being part of the Lafayette community, I feel privileged to be involved in a significant project in Easton that will help continue its journey towards revitalization,” Reilly said. “This project is very significant not only to Easton but I think also to Lafayette College because it’s going to provide people that are working in Easton and working on College Hill an opportunity to live in downtown Easton and to walk to work.”