Jun 26, 2008

Rite Aid to Close

Hamilton Street's Rite Aid will close it's door July 10th. Although it was against their corporate policy to join me and the merchants protesting the Pawlowski endorsed Lanta Bus changes*, it is also against their corporate policy to tolerate a 40% reduction in revenue. Hamilton Street is on it's knee's. This week three long term businesses announced their closing. Pawlowski was hoping his house of cards would stand until the next mayoral election, it doesn't look like it. All grant money is being funneled into keeping the Brew Pub open. No work has occurred at the former Sal's site for over three weeks. Pawlowski's lack of business experience is beginning to be very costly to Allentown. Many investors, some capable of investing much more, are being abused** by his bureaucracy, while a few select properties are being promoted. These tactics may well result in lawsuits, costing the city even more.

* At the time of the Lanta protest, I respected Rite Aid's corporate position, and didn't dwell on the fact that a national chain was being driven off of Hamilton Street. The Mayor and Lanta board were too self absorbed with their "vision", to understand they were depriving the merchants of the cash flow necessary to remain in business.

** Apartment owners are having their buildings declared unfit for habitation because of some external peeling paint. Commercial owners are likewise being threatened and bullied with inappropriate demands. I will refrain from citing addresses at this time to spare these hapless owners from more harassment.

UPDATE: Channel 69 news reports that Rite Aid is closing because of it's merger with Eckerd, which has a store"several blocks away on 7th St". The Eckerd is almost 10 blocks away. CVS has a store at 12th and Liberty and another at 16th and Liberty. The Hamilton Street store is closing because they lost the prescription and other business from transferring bus passengers. At some point in the future, we will pay a consultant who will make the recommendation to restore the transfer stops back to Hamilton Street.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is all just a bad perception. Perhaps Ed can just wish it away with a "Power Point Presentation" (imagine this being said, with awe and wonder, by Lona Fahr).

Anonymous said...

I continue to be amazed....the downward spiral continues.

I'm an Emmaus guy, but I'm going to miss the Federal Grill I went there often.

Anonymous said...

What is amazing is that a bus company is supposed to be responsible for the foot traffic of a national chain store. There are lots of empty properties on 7th St for a drug store.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I thought the comment by the “Federal Grill’s” owner that she was tired of waiting was very telling. WE are all tired of waiting for the city to get better. Too many good people have already decided they waited long enough and have left. The departure of these people is a real loss to the city. The fact that healthy/constructive civic debate has been forced from city hall to these blogs and group sites is also a sign that good government does not exist here in Allentown.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:21, rite-aid does have a store on 7th st., in about the 800 block. what i think is amazing is that you think it's alright for a bus company to be a hand maiden for a mayor and the parking authority deck. if hamilton street has 40% less revenue because of the lanta changes, what has allentown gained?

Anonymous said...

MM, you may not want to say it but I will. The City has not assisted 645 Hamilton Street and has bordered on harrassment and bullying with its' treatment. They tend to speak about how the NYC owner and his investors bought a building and has not fixed it appropriately, thus it cannot be opened for use to ANY business. Well, I am here and I have witnessed building and zoning officials lack of assistance when it comes to "certain owners" in Allentown. It's deplorable that unless you are apart of the IN CROWD with the City, it seems you are not promoted or assisted with issues that will affect the City as a whole. 645 Hamilton is a prominent building on the corner of 7th Street. You would think the City would be glad that some investors came in and bought a building and were willing to invest in the City. They have given subsidies, tax breaks, and grants that total millions to other businesses on Hamilton but this building has been given nothing but hard times. The owner has met with the Mayor and Zoning and joined LVEDC and did what he thought was the correct thing to do but to no avail. He actually has come to a point and asked who he had to "pay off" in order to get fair treatment from the City. This building is literally BLACK BALLED. Today 8 people from the zoning, electrical, safety, and whatever else they could think of Department, came to the building for inspections and I promise it was just to tear the building apart with future citations. At this point, I wouldn't blame the owner if he just "mothballed" the building as many other surrounding building owners have done and let it sit empty as he waits for the highest bidder to call. It's a shame too, because with the loss of Federal Grill, Rite Aid, Dandy Dry Cleaners and Indian Boutique, you would think that the City would be uplifting and breaking their backs to help these investors but instead they are running them and other possible businesses out of town. I hope they have a method to their madness. If not, Allentown leaders may be their OWN worst enemies...

Alfonso

michael molovinsky said...

alfonso, the new owner of 645 paid 3.75million for the privilege of being abused by pawlowski. across the street, in a building that has not had an upgrade since 1940 (dime bank). pawlowski organized a hugh promotion, complete with power point presentation and catered lunch for realtors. the previous owner of 645 redirected the proceeds out of allentown. i know of 7million private money directed out recently, only thing coming in is grants, truly a house of cards

Sarina said...

Corporations like Rite Aid can be their own worst enemy. Rather than get involved in what's going on in the community they would rather stay quiet and then disappear. Maybe they never got involved in the transit debate because the corporate guys already decided the store would be shut down? Who knows.

I have no personal knowledge or Rite Aid's finances, but I know that downtown store was busy every single time I went there. I think this company over bought (Eckerd) and overbuilt. They have new stores all over the place. I'm sick of seeing constant demolition and new construction. It's so wasteful.

Anonymous said...

"The Eckerd is almost 10 blocks away"

6.5 blocks is not almost 10.

Anonymous said...

"He actually has come to a point and asked who he had to "pay off"

This doesn't sound like the kind of guy we need doing business in Allentown. This displays a severe lack of business ethics. After reading this comment, I'll side with the city.

hayshaker said...

I'm not sure what you want this overmatched mayor to do. Nothing is going to bring back Hess', Witwer and Jones, C. Leslie Smith or Titlow's Music Store. The downtown is what it is. A person can choose to go to the Federal Grill and risk assault or they can go to someplace like Melt or Apollo and never have to worry about a thing as they stroll around. If the corporate people and the city people cannot even keep The Federal running, it tells me that even they aren't frequenting those businesses.

So what to do? We all know that the lack of patronage boils down to personal safety. Do we declare martial law in downtown? Or do we just write off downtown and start developing some other area like the East Side? I'd think your opportunity is around that ballpark.

hayshaker said...


This doesn't sound like the kind of guy we need doing business in Allentown. This displays a severe lack of business ethics. After reading this comment, I'll side with the city.


Curiously, neither Molovinsky or O'Hare provide the other side of the story. There may very well NOT be another side but it'd be nice to know. Otherwise, their articles are just attack pieces used to assemble their straw men.

michael molovinsky said...

hayshaker, the other side of the story is in the archives of this blog. here in this post i state the current owner of 645 hamilton paid 3.75 million dollars last year. here's a real investor with private money, in any other community the mayor would be taking him out to lunch, not harassing him.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Curiously, neither Molovinsky or O'Hare provide the other side of the story. There may very well NOT be another side but it'd be nice to know. Otherwise, their articles are just attack pieces used to assemble their straw men.

I read the other side of the story daily in the MC, where the mayor gloats about having someone arrested and jailed for code violations that occurred before he owned the building. I read daily about ABW or Mananas or "renaissance square." I have contacterd the mayor's office several times, and they do not return calls. When people like MM point out the truth, they are marginalized by a mayor who uses thuugs like Ed DeGrace to silence dissent with personbal attacks.

Anonymous said...

Well "Hayshaker" you may believe a person risks assault by going to The Federal Grille or any of the other establishments in Downtown A-town but you are wrong ! And as far as the mayor being overmatched by the problems of A-town, I believe he is looking everywhere for an answer but not seeing the obvious: We need to really build on the existing community and go from there. If you think the residents from the suburban areas and PPL employees will save Allentown, then I definitely have a bridge I'd like to sell to you. The answer is to make A-town an ecclectic, funky, and chic kind of location. Somewhere that is hip and fun to dine, meet, party, and just hang. This will NEVER be a Center Valley or Bethlehem and until City leaders stop picking and choosing who should stay and who can't and what business is viable and what isn't, then Allentown only deserves what Allentown gets. PERIOD !
UPWARD BOUND, ALLENTOWN !!!!!

hayshaker said...

Mr. O'Hare. Thanks for the broad strokes but you are really doing a disservice to this story by avoiding the other side of the story.I'm not sure what any of your examples have to do with this story.

Why do you think the mayor is being vindictive? Some bizarre masochistic tendency? Some hatred or investors? Could it be that there are other reasons you are unaware of because you simply don't want to hear anything other than your preconceived notions?

As for MM's posting: An investor buying a property is reason to let all code be optional? If I buy a $2 million house, does that mean I do not have to abide by any local code requirements? You supposition is ludicrous and biased.

hayshaker said...

Well "Hayshaker" you may believe a person risks assault by going to The Federal Grille or any of the other establishments in Downtown A-town but you are wrong !

Where do you think the risk is higher, Alphonso? Going to Federal Grill or Apollo? There is a list of FBI statistics that will stand up to any of your anecdotal evidence. Those of us who have lived here for 4 decades or more remember Allentown when it was safe. It is NOT safe now and the downtown deterioration is proving this.

Even the "funky" shops want nothing to do with downtown.

michael molovinsky said...

hayshaker, there are some issues with 645 hamilton. however, the "raid" by code was inappropriate, there was one small office which the "raiders" couldn't see, the owner didn't have the proper key(out of 6 stories and 200,000 sq. ft.). He was screamed at, that next time they will kick the door's down if they cannot gain access.) i have been involved in property management for over 35 years, since daddonna's first term. i have never witnessed such arrogance or disrespect for a taxpayer. smart money is leaving and not looking back, believe it or not.

Anonymous said...

4 decades IS a long time Hayshaker, and things have changed alot since then. It's true, it may not be safe, in the terms that you use in comparison to 40 years ago but it IS safe in comparison to today. FBI statistics or not, Downtown Allentown is NOT a 3rd world country, nor is it plagued by daily killings on a consistent basis. I do agree that there is alot of crime but not to the point where we have to look over our shoulders constantly as if we are in Philly, Washington DC, Miami, or Baltimore. Do you need to be aware of your surroundings, yes, but that should be your state of mind ANYWHERE in the Valley and beyond. Also, I have been to the Apollo in Bethelehem and the bank next door has been robbed numerous times. SO, do bank robberies count as a type of dangerous crime ? I feel safe in both places, in reality because I know CRIME HAPPENS. As far as the "funky" shops, there are many who want to open up places but it is, unfortunately, well known how hard it is to do business in Allentown.

Alfonso

Anonymous said...

one thing you wont hear, rite aide at that location had one of the highest shrink rates in its district,with petty theft its major source.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. O'Hare. Thanks for the broad strokes but you are really doing a disservice to this story by avoiding the other side of the story.I'm not sure what any of your examples have to do with this story.

Hayshaker, I have answereed you in detsail on my own blog, where you've asked the same question.

Anonymous said...

Michael, get your facts straight about the Dime Building presentation. That was organized by LVEDC. I believe that the food, which was breakfast, not lunch, was provided by the property owner.

BTW, for all of your love of LANTA riders, how often do you actually take the bus?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 3:11, lunch or breakfast, how does it matter? they were promoting a building which hasn't had an upgrade in over 75 years. besides a used furniture store on the first level three owners ago, the upper floors haven't been used in 50 years. the man bought it as a passive investment, like a vintage car. i didn't support the lanta riders, i supported the merchants; however, i do not have the contempt for the riders you apparently have. i do not ride the bus, and i do not dispute a premise over minor details

Mrs. Dottie said...

RE:"BTW, for all of your love of LANTA riders, how often do you actually take the bus?"

What a ridiculous comment to make considering all that MM has done to call attention to, and to help the merchants who have lost business due to the LANTA bus route changes? Why do you have to look for ways to minimize someone's good deeds?

MM You are doing a great job showing the other side of things here, because we get a different picture from the newspaper, when they even cover it. Of course as someone who reads and writes blogs I realize that this is your perspective, and there are many other blogs I could read to get a different viewpoint. Most open-minded people who read your blog know that you care about owner's property rights and citizen's rights, and Allentown.

hayshaker said...

If we get one side here and the paper admittedly does not cover it at all, then where are we getting the "other" side?

If there is one thing worse than an incompetent mayor, it's greedy and incompetent property owners.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Why do you think the mayor is being vindictive? Some bizarre masochistic tendency? Some hatred or investors? Could it be that there are other reasons you are unaware of because you simply don't want to hear anything other than your preconceived notions?

I think the mayor is being vindictive because that is his modus operandi and the facts support that conclusion. I'm not pulling this conclusion out of my ass. The mayor's own supporters hacve acknowledged to me that he is a mean-spirited and vindictive man. That is his chief flaw.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If we get one side here and the paper admittedly does not cover it at all, then where are we getting the "other" side?

That is the other side. Put your head in the sand and pretend there's no problem. And that, unfortunately, is what I see in spin city. Even the rampant crime is dismissed as a perception problem.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me the city is getting tough on code. I think this is great!

Although not your intent, you bloggers are doing a great job of bringing the city's new zero tolerance efforts to light! Keep it up!

South Side Sam

hayshaker said...

That is the other side. Put your head in the sand and pretend there's no problem. And that, unfortunately, is what I see in spin city. Even the rampant crime is dismissed as a perception problem.

The other side is that the mayor sends out roving patrols of jack-boots merely because he's a horse's ass? There is no prompting by the owner or no legal basis that the mayor is using? I'd have to put my head pretty deep to claim this! Why do you insist these property owners are innocent? Do you know them personally and know the exact details of their ownership?

michael molovinsky said...

hayshaker, it's not that rodney king didn't do anything wrong, it's the way the police over-reacted.

yes the building has violations, but what is the intent of sending eight people and four vehicles and threatening to kick doors open?

you have no idea of how much empty office space there is on hamilton street.

they have yet to fill the ppl plaza even with the incentives and no taxes

the butz building is virtually empty

tax paying investors are nothing to kick around.

let us say you adhere to the above comment from sam and appreciate the mayor's zero tolerance.,
beyond that, thank you for your comments

michael molovinsky said...

dear south side sam, the problem is the city should be "getting tough on crime", zero tolerance against buildings will not solve our perception or reality problem, but is chasing investors, not criminals, out of allentown.