Bethlehem to host block party for Boyd Theatre neighbors


Michael Collado opened his second restaurant, Casa del San-Gwich, in October at 20 W. Broad St. in downtown Bethlehem, just in time for construction to begin in earnest on the apartment building replacing the former Boyd Theatre.

With the dirt flying next door, the sidewalk in front of the business has been closed. Despite that, Casa del San-Gwich, which specializes in freshly prepared Dominican sandwiches, has been doing well, Collado said, but he didn’t think the construction “would be this bad.”

“I thought the sidewalk will be open, you know, and stuff like that,” said Collado, who also co-owns Casa del Mofongo at 553 Main St., with his wife Mayra. “I wasn’t sure that it was going to be completely closed off.”

On Sunday, Collado and his fellow business owners will have something to celebrate as construction on the new Boyd, which is expected to be completed in fall 2024, reaches its halfway point.

A Building the Boyd Block Party will run 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1 W. Broad St. with live music from Life After Dead, a Grateful Dead Tribute band, and specials from nearby businesses such as Luxurious Seduction Spa, La Casa del San-Gwich and Joe’s Tavern. Vouchers will be available to those who park in the Walnut Street Garage.

Developer Plamen “Rocco” Ayvazov, CEO of Monocacy General Contracting, which is developing the property at 30 W. Broad St. with DLP Real Estate Capital, will be on hand to answer questions about the project.

The new complex will be six stories, with its facade featuring elements in tribute to the industrial heritage of Bethlehem, including red brick and exposed steel. Theater memorabilia will be presented among interior public spaces, such as a vintage projector and chandelier, theater seats and photos. In addition to the community’s 204 apartments, the complex will feature underground parking, a pool, courtyard and 5,000 square feet of commercial space.

Tammy Wendling, senior vice president, Bethlehem Initiatives for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the block party is a chance to let people know that businesses on this block of Broad Street are still open.

“Some of the walkability has been injured because of [construction],” she said, “but our businesses are still open and we definitely want the community to recognize that. Even though there’s all these moving parts, we’re still open for business and we’re still having fun and we’re going to have a party to celebrate and incorporate our local businesses.”

Once a vibrant staple of the performing arts scene in Bethlehem, the Boyd Theatre building sat vacant since 2011 after suffering severe weather damage that year. The storefronts next to the theater, which used to house Edible Arrangements and Ruby’s Floral Factory, were condemned in 2015 because of Boyd’s deteriorating state.

The building was demolished in February 2022.

The theater got its start in 1921 when Charles and John Kurtz, locals who owned a cabinetry and furniture-making business and restaurant, opened it as the Kurtz Theatre. Three years later, the venue was renamed the Colonial after being bought by the Wilmer and Vincent Theatre Co., which owned the Colonial Theatre in Allentown.

It got the Boyd name in 1934 when A.R. Boyd Enterprises of Philadelphia bought it — along with the Globe Theater in Bethlehem and theaters in Allentown and Easton. The Heydt family bought the Bethlehem building in 1970 and showed films at Boyd Theatre until it closed in 2011.

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