Easton’s new multi-purpose building to break ground by September


The Confluence, which will include numerous amenities, is set to benefit the local economy and provide the government with real-estate and income tax revenue. (Photo courtesy of Lehigh Valley Live)

Earlier this month, the Easton Planning Commission granted final land development for The Confluence, a large mixed-use building that will be located at 185 S. 3rd St. Work on the development is set to begin by September.

Plans for The Confluence include a cinema, a restaurant, a dog park, artistic installations, outdoor seating and more, all while attempting to create a balance between a modern design and the historic aspects of the city.

“[People are] going to see that and say ‘wow, look at this city’” Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said. “I think the design and the building, even though it’s large, it really is what downtowns, cities are all about. Density, mass, scale, all those things.”

The project is expected to benefit the daytime economy, which Panto and Director of Easton Public Works David Hopkins both emphasized. Although Easton currently thrives at night with its restaurants and events, facilitating the same patronage during the day is a potential area for improvement that will be addressed by The Confluence and similar projects.

“It’s going to be beneficial not only from a revenue standpoint,” Hopkins said. “But I’m a small business owner downtown, and I know that there’s 300 new apartments coming, and all those people need to eat somewhere.”

Beyond its addition to the economy of Easton, The Confluence will also benefit the city tax-wise.

“It will give the city about one million dollars a year in taxes,” Panto said. 

According to Hopkins, Easton is roughly 33% tax-exempt. The income from The Confluence will enable Easton to keep financial pressure off its existing citizens.

“By growing organically through new dense development, it’s a way to keep it cost-friendly for everybody,” Hopkins explained.

The lot where The Confluence will be built was originally vacated in 2018 when a Days Inn was demolished in hopes to build a Da Vinci Science Center in its place. However, as plans became solidified for the Center, concerns about size and parking were raised, and eventually, the plan fell through. 

“The development that’s pending for that site is a much better use. Da Vinci would have been an enormous stress on our parking system. It was also a non-tax-paying entity,” Hopkins said. “Versus the million dollars in taxes that we’ll see through earned income tax and real estate tax that developments like The Confluence could contribute.”

After opening up for proposals for the space, the city began evaluating new offers. 

“We had a pretty large committee of residents and local business owners…able to determine which developer they thought was the best one,” Hopkins said. “That’s how we selected Peron Development.”

Peron Development is the Bethlehem-based construction firm that is leading the project.

In response to the issue of gentrification, Hopkins said that they are trying to limit developments to places currently empty, as to avoid displacement.

“People also throw around the word gentrification, which is a concern. But I don’t think the way we’re doing it is going to lead to that,” Hopkins said. “Most of the developments you see happening are on what were formerly vacant lots…we’re not displacing residents.”

The Confluence will also prioritize environmentally-friendly infrastructure efforts.

“The number one I like about it is the sustainability. It’s environmentally LEED certified… They’re putting in a system that’s going to collect the rainwater they’ll use for irrigation,” Panto said. “I mean…they’re putting green roofs in a number of areas, and they’re putting dog parks in and they have a public plaza.”

Both Hopkins and Panto are excited about the opportunities Peron envisioned for the space. The Confluence is expected to open in 2024.

“If you’re interested in watching a city transform, the next three years are going to be pretty amazing,” Hopkins said.