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RB Collection – Klein Building Project

Allentown’s gateway slated for classic car restoration business, upscale apartments
By Brian Pedersen, March 25, 2015 at 11:37 AM – LVB.com.

At a strategic spot in Allentown facing the America On Wheels Museum sits a vacant property that a developer would like to transform into a premier classic car restoration facility with upscale apartments on the upper floors.

Tuesday at its regular board meeting, the Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Authority voted to select ACR Development’s proposal for the acquisition and renovation of the former Klein Bros. Paper and Twine Co. building.

The site has been vacant since 1970. But last year, the Allentown Economic Development Corp. began accepting proposals for redevelopment of the building at 107-111 W. Hamilton St. and 14-28 N. Front St., at the east gateway to the downtown off the Hamilton Street Bridge.

RB Collection, a Breinigsville-based classic, vintage and exotic car restoration shop and dealership, wants to build a restoration center at the site. It plans to move its facility to the Allentown site if the project gains required approvals, said Al Ruozzi, who owns the business with his brother, Alex.

Al Ruozzi told Lehigh Valley Business that the proposal includes a building addition as well as total renovation of the Klein Building. All historic features, including the entire facade and architectural concept, will be preserved to accommodate more than 12,000 square feet of the RB Collection showroom and restoration shop.

The second step in the project includes renovation of the second and third floors to become upscale residential units.

“RB Collection and the America On Wheels Museum would be the first partnership between an automotive museum and an operating service and restoration business,” Al Ruozzi said.

With The Waterfront redevelopment underway along the Lehigh River and the synergy of the existing museum, the concept would allow visitors to enjoy museum car expositions and then tour RB Collection’s Restoration Center to see how classic and vintage cars are restored.

“That’s why we think this partnership is unique,” Al Ruozzi said. “As visitors of the museum, they could also tour the restoration center with the same ticket.”

The overall goal will be to attract more collectors, visitors and buyers to both sites.

Alex Ruozzi said the brothers will take their 23 years of knowledge and passion for classic cars to generate a thematic approach to Allentown’s Waterfront redevelopment, creating an “Automobile Corner of America” in the Lehigh Valley, showcasing historic vehicles, including trucks, cars and motorcycles.

“The location, we think, could not be better,” Al Ruozzi said. “As a historic building with a brick façade, it is also strategically located to the gateway to The Waterfront. The synergy is so powerful.”

For the apartments, Al Ruozzi said the rents and styles have not been defined. The total construction cost for the project has not been determined, either, he said.

The brothers chose David Hornung as the architect, who did design work for the project up to this point, but have not selected a construction management firm.

Though the Klein property is owned by the ACIDA, Al Ruozzi said he and his brother will seek an agreement of sale for the purchase of the property, if all approvals are met.

“Of course, we will preserve all the features,” Alex Ruozzi said. “It’s the perfect location for displaying classic cars. The beauty of the apartment project is the lobby of the building will display classic cars; it’s something different.”

 

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