Brennan Law Offices pro bono client improving quality of life in Allentown

For several years Tim Brennan has assisted cultural, religious and police nonprofit clients, free of charge, today was a big day for one of them. He noted that little things and community support are critical to make these efforts successful; quite a bit of both went into this project, which hopefully will serve the public for many years to come.

The Lehigh Valley’s first LGBT community center has found a new home on West Maple Street in Allentown.

The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center Executive Director Adrian Shanker announces the new location of the center Wednesday. (Courtesy photo)
The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Centerhas bought a 13,000-square-foot building at 522 W. Maple Street in the city, according to a news release. The center closed on the property Monday, paying $340,000 for the building.

When the center opens in early 2016, it will be the first of its kind in the region to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The nonprofit had planned to redevelop a long-vacant former dairy building at 1021 W. Turner St. in the city. But significant environmental problems made the estimated $1.5 million to $1.7 million construction costs too high.

“This property presents a better option for our community – the physical space is better, the cost is lower and we’ll be able to open sooner,” Executive Director Adrian Shanker said in a news release.

The new location doesn’t require major work, he said. The former dairy building would have been under construction for up to a year once the money was raised.”This is a more responsible financial move,” Shanker said.

The center will provide services to members of the LGBT community, “including cultural, educational and health promotion programs,” the group reports. The programs and services provided will be available to all Lehigh Valley residents, not just those who live in Allentown.

“The growing LGBT community brings with it a greater need for community resources, infrastructure and direct services,” said Shanker. “We need a community center to provide the programs and services our community deserves.”

Allentown has the third-highest LGBT population among Pennsylvania cities, according to the 2010 census, behind only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Over 10 years, Allentown saw a 55 percent rise in the number of same-sex couples calling the Queen City home, Bethlehem saw a 79 percent increase and Easton saw a 26 percent rise, according to the census.

The building is named for Pennsylvania Diversity Network founders Liz Bradburyand and Patricia Sullivan, who were married in Connecticut in 2009.

People’s First Federal Credit Union provided financing for the project, which Jeff Barber, of Lehigh Financial Group, said speaks to the centers strong management and organization.

“Non-profit financing is among the hardest to get done, nationally, so when you can get financing for an organization like this, it really speaks to the strength of that organization,” Barber said. “People’s First did something not many lenders do for non-profits, but Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is a very thorough organization.”

Many people in the Lehigh Valley community provided pro-bono assistance to the project. Realtor Rob Ritter, of Weichert Realtors in Allentown, is donating a portion of his commission from the sale. Others include attorneys Tim Brennan and Michael Recchiuti, Kohn Engineering, Barry Isett & Associates, Brown Design Corps., J&P Engineers and Lock Ridge Engineering, Shanker said.