Will the Jewish Community Center Move to the Parkland Area?
The Allentown Jewish Community Center is on the market for $6.9 million, and its board is looking for a new site west of its current location.
The Jewish Community Center in West Allentown is on the market for $6.9 million, and it is anticipating a move west—possibly to South Whitehall, Upper Macungie or another municipality west of its current location.
"Our members have moved west, and we want to stay in contact with them," said JCC President Bobby Hammel.
There is no timetable for a move, and the JCC has not purchased any land, Hammel said.
However, Michael Baxter & Associates is now marketing the 92,000-square-foot JCC building at 702 N. 22nd St. in Allentown. The building is full of amenities, including a pool, gym, fitness center, classes, kitchen and multi-purpose rooms.
About a decade ago, the JCC had expanded its Allentown property to 6.94 acres, with additional parking, and renovated its aging building following a capital campaign. Plans had called for a new aquatic building but there was not enough money at the time to complete that, Hammel said.
Now, a demographic study by the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley has underscored that members have been moving further west of the facility. And if people are inconvenienced, Hammel said, they won't stay members long.
In a letter dated Feb. 19, Hammel and JCC Executive Director Carol Kranitz notified JCC members that the building was for sale and that plans for a new facility were "moving forward" to better serve the Jewish community for years to come. A transition team will guide the process.
Hammel acknowleged that the decision was an emotional one, especially for those board members who have grown up at the JCC, attending classes and summer camp and participating in sports. "It rips your heartstrings to have to move," he said.
The JCC property in Center Valley, where there is a full summer camp program, is not on the market at this time, Hammel said. However, he said, "a dream come true" would be a new campus where both a center and camp would be in one location. He said the JCC board is looking to purchase more than 10 acres for a new facility.
The JCC has been at its current location in Allentown for more than 50 years.