The Dixie cup building has sat vacant for years. How one neighbor is taking matters into his own hands
WILSON BOROUGH, Pa. – Behind the high school football and track field could sit a community center, a recreation center, affordable housing or a combination of uses.
The hulking Dixie cup factory just outside Easton has sat mostly vacant for years, off Butler Street and near Wilson Area High School.
A survey of residents in the area shows they’d like to see it turn into a mixed-use space.
- The old Dixie cup plant hasn't operated for more than 40 years
- Armando Moritz-Chapelliquen surveyed more than 120 neighbors about possibilities for the future use of the site
- Those surveyed said they preferred to see affordable housing and community spaces
At least that’s what Armando Moritz-Chapelliquen found after he conducted a survey of 120 residents in the surrounding area. He presented his findings on Thursday to Northampton County Council’s Economic Development Committee.
The Dixie cup factory has sat mostly vacant for 40 years since the company moved the manufacturing to Forks Township. The building, located in Wilson Borough off Route 22, still stands but has deteriorated considerably.
Moritz-Chapelliquen initiated the survey and lives nearby with his wife and 2-year-old son.
“It's kind of embarrassing, frankly,” Moritz-Chapelliquen said. “If you go to a couple of football games the backdrop of the football field is this dilapidated building with broken windows and rust all over the cup (on the rooftop). Nobody wants to have that as their backdrop.”
Moritz-Chapelliquen said it’s noticeable when driving to get groceries and he worries about his son walking nearby when he gets older.
“From a developer’s standpoint, if work were to start tomorrow on fixing the building up in any sort of use, [my son would] probably be somewhere in kindergarten or so by the time the building would be ready to operate,” Moritz-Chapelliquen said. “This is kind of like me thinking in longer terms of what I want my future to look like.”
People he surveyed lived in Easton, Wilson, Williams Township and Forks Township. Moritz-Chapelliquen said he started reaching out to people last Aug. 20 after Northampton County Council denied a proposal to turn the area into a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance site.
There have been several potential investors and proposed uses for the 600,000-square-foot building, including residential, commercial and warehousing.
Owned by attorney Joseph Reibman, the property is listed for sale at $10 million.
Moritz-Chapelliquen said he gathered input by handing out fliers with QR codes that led people to a digital form. He also talked to people in his neighborhood, asking them to take the survey and passing it on to others who may be interested in the future of the site.
Having a child and navigating a pandemic has slowed some of Moritz-Chapelliquen’s efforts, he said, but he got more than 100 respondents.
“A lot of anecdotal information is kind of validated through the data, through the quantitative data. The fact that people want to see jobs, people want to see commercial space, people want to see mixed use,” Moritz-Chapelliquen said.
“My own personal opinion on it has always been that that site is big enough that if you did just residential or just commercial or just industrial, it’d be a waste. So the fact that people overwhelmingly want to see mixed-use is really validating.”
“My own personal opinion on it has always been that that site is big enough that if you did just residential or just commercial or just industrial it’d be a waste. So the fact that people overwhelmingly want to see mixed use is really validating.”Armando Moritz-Chapelliquen, local resident
County council member Tara Zrinski said she'd like to see an expanded survey that drills down on age and demographics.
She noted the survey’s results pointed to residents looking for one-bedroom and studio apartments, along with senior residences but a lack of multi-family unit concerns.
“I love the idea of public comment in trying to figure out what’s important for the community in terms of economic development,” Zrinski said.
She said the next steps could include finding a developer for the site.