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At the foot of the old Bethlehem Steel furnaces, Bethlehem is planning a visitors center that would tell the city’s story and orient tourists with cultural and entertainment offerings if a casino is built at the old Steel site.

Kiosks for attractions like the proposed National Museum of Industrial History and SteelStax concert hall would dot the inside of the 7,600 square foot center, while space would be set aside for films, a souvenir shop, refreshments and restrooms.

Community leaders say the center, on par with what one may find at a federal park, would capture tourists who come for gambling and introduce them to other cultural opportunities in the area, such as the Moravian Industrial Quarter north of the Lehigh River or the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown.

“This makes an awful lot of sense,” Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan said. “This is a stop where people can get a quick look at the history of our city and everything that it has to offer.”

The catch is that the casino project proposed for Bethlehem must win one of two available gaming licenses this week. The casino, proposed by Las Vegas Sands, would be the economic driver behind the plan to redevelop 124 acres of the old Steel plant into shops, restaurants and other cultural amenities.

The city has been working on the visitors center plan for three or four months. It is still too early in the planning stages to attach a price tag,
coca cola polo shirts City hopes gamblers will look around
Callahan said.

Michael Perrucci, of BethWorks Now, developing the Steel land around the casino, said the visitors center is a deal he readily wanted to make because it helps the various components of the project work together.

Besides gambling, the project site is expected to host the industrial history museum, PBS 39 WLVT TV public television, a concert hall proposed by Musikfest parent ArtsQuest and other cultural amenities wrapped around a collection of refurbished Steel buildings.

The center would be housed in the stock house, the oldest building on the Bethlehem Steel site. Built around 1863, the building once was used by the Bethlehem Iron Co.

“It shows the growth on this site from a small company to a megalopolis of Bethlehem Steel,” said Amey Senape, historic resource specialist at Delaware Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.

The stock house boasts fieldstone walls and high arched windows. Renovations are needed some windows are knocked out and portions of the roof are deteriorating.

“This will preserve the old building, interpret the city’s history and show everything that the city has to offer,” said Parks. “This is an ideal use.”Man Recalls Day His Wife,
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