Allentown Arena Challenged

A $158 million hockey arena proposed by officials in Allentown, Pa., has faced some snags and a new legal challenge could add yet another delay to the city’s plan.

Developer Abe Atiyeh filed suit in Lehigh County Court April 10 alleging a planning commission made a number of errors when it approved plans for the 8,500-seat arena, according to court documents obtained by the city’s Morning Call newspaper.

Specifically, the commission “erred and abused its discretion,” the suit says, by treating the proposal as exempt from zoning laws. Attorneys for the developer called the exemption “unconstitutional and invalid on the basis it is over broad” in the suit.

Atiyeh filed two previous actions similarly objecting to the project’s use of eminent domain and sought to have a judge deny the plan for the building, the Morning Call reported. The venue is being constructed to house the minor-league Adirondack Phantoms hockey team.

Legal issues haven’t been the only challenges the arena has faced.

Earlier this year, the city was demolishing a Rite Aid and Family Dollar store to make way for the venue, but demolition was halted after asbestos was discovered at the Rite Aid.

Meanwhile, a pair of endangered falcons that previously mated in a tower near the demolition site were expected to nest between February and July.