Apr 1, 2009

Rainy Day Blues

The current owner of the New York Floral Company, in the current Holiday Inn at Ninth and Hamilton, after 22 years, is closing the shop. Scott Kraus, mincing no words, tells the depressing story at Mcall this evening. The owner candidly states that the "downtown business environment foundered" and that "Downtown has become a place to avoid." Despite this man's experience, Pawlowski insists that downtown is coming back and cites a new eatery on 9th St., the Cave, which is taking over the Loop, which took over the Hoop, which took over the Boop. Here's what Pawlowski doesn't know. The New York Floral Company was at Ninth and Hamilton before the Hotel, which started as a Hilton. It was the premiere florist in Allentown, although the crowds of shoppers on Hamilton Street made it difficult to access. Husbands and boyfriends would park where they could, and there wasn't even a Parking Authority. Denial is a river in Egypt.

photocredit: molovinsky


Bernie O'Hare said...

Depressing story, especially Pawlowski's continued attempts to make lemonade out of lemons.

But what a great photograph. You are an artiste! That's it, I'm going to go buy a beret.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an informative posting. I remember the original New York Floral and the "new" New York Floral when it opened in the then new Allentown Hilton Hotel. The owners of New York Floral sold their property to the developers of the Allentown Hilton - including their very lucrative parking lot at Ninth and Hamilton - for a rather "princely" sum of money and the stipulation that they would be allowed to reopen their floral shop at the corner of Ninth and Hamilton in retail space to be developed as part of the hotel. The location - at the time a 100% corner - and the rent and terms - absolute bargain basement prices - set the shop up for success. The Hilton, as we know, became a Crowne Plaza - not a bad flag - and is now a Holiday Inn - which the Mayor said was an "upgrade" from a Crowne Plaza! Both are downgrades from a Hilton flag, but the Crowne Plaza, as any hotelier will tell you, is the top of the line in the Holiday Inn related companies. I agree with Bernie O'Hare, a depressing story on a depressing day.
Hilton Fan

michael molovinsky said...

in fairness to pawlowski, heydt said a similar thing when a long term grocer (dalapalu) closed, he pointed to some startup luncheonette funded by alan jennings, which didn't last (none of his do). recently, the closed rite-aid was referred to as blighted to justify koz status. it is in excellent shape and closed as a direct result of the lanta changes. i have no problem making lemonade out of lemons, assuming they are lemons. allentown has been the victim of delusions, reality is an unknown word.

Anonymous said...

Did you say, "in fairness to Pawlowski?" In print? It's not even April Fool's Day. I agree that the "spin," that has been put on the demise of quality retailers or businesses, in an effort to maintain the "image" and "appearance" of vibrancy, has been almost pathetically delusional. Not sure if Heydt - with the exception of Dalla Palu's and the sad fate of Hess's - did as much "spinning" as Pawlowski does.
Hess's Fan

Anonymous said...

New York Floral was nice but they really didn't do much, anything to market themselves in the last 10 years.

I have shopped there and I like it but I honestly think of Phoebe when flower times come around. They actually advertise.

I think it is as much their own doing than the state of the city. Either way, it is a shame.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:48, please understand that i'm an independent, especially in the local arena. heydt had no development skills what so ever !!! he tore hamilton street up about 6 times, reconfiguring the parking places by a meter or two. although all the buildings were bisected architecturally over the years, he torn down the canopies. with some simple changes, mainly light fixtures, they could have been made to look european turn of the century. i know of someone who made 80k in three hours by buying the building next to rubes, knowing the city would buy it. in addition to tearing down hess's, he purchased the south side of the 800 block of hamilton with no plans. in addition to delusions, this city suffers from partisanship revisionism.

LVCI said...

A city is built one brick at a time. It is in this same manner dismantled.

I still believe we too many projects going on with none completed. We should focus solely on one area till it's completion. Then spread out from it's center. I was in no uncertain terms... development simply isn't done that way. YEAH I CAN SEE THAT!

That was my whole point. Pick a block.. any block. Similar to what Bethlehem had done with it's Broad & Main Streets area. Am I wrong?

BTW: I did a piece today on the Rialto Theatre. Another screw up in my opinion.

J. BLACK said...

What's even more ______ up is that even when locals do attempt to open new businesses that are actually part of the Allentown tax base, there is no real support unless it's an approved business that the City believes will add to their visionof the area. The City complains about hip-hop stores and businesses catering to low income residents but instead of reaching out to the beginning and young entrepreneurs who are actually investing in the City, they take their money in taxes and fees, and then complain about their type of business. Most small businesses never get a ribbon cutting or visit from the Mayor. It seems like it's not what you know but who you know.

- J. Black

michael molovinsky said...

j black, thanks for your comment. alfonso and i have had the same conversation about the unfair, unlevel business playing field in allentown. i like your blog and "technique" (allen high, class of 64), unfortunately your comment template choice does not recognize those of us with older apple programs to comment.

Anonymous said...

I am an equal opportunity blog commentor, so I will try to figure out how to make my blog, 5minutes2shine.blogspot.com aka URBAN RENEWAL, more accessible...


michael molovinsky said...

j, i have just been down this row with a couple other bloggers. this type of full page comment, or even the block kind used on donovan's inclusion work well with older apples, it appears to be the format you chosen which presents the problem. tony4mayor (phillips) also uses the type you chosen, and other people have commented elsewhere that they cannot interact with it. of course you may be better off omitting us dinosaurs

your blog and alfonso's newsletter, give a much needed insight into the problems with startup business, which often falls between the cracks. of course now alfonso is on his mr. hollywood mainstream inclusion phrase, just kidding mr. A.

CanUSayWakeNBake?? said...

J. Black.. no actually u just have to be a tanning salon that sells drug paraphanalia (sp?) of a large campaign donor to get a ribbon cutting ceremony and be well off hamilton (ie Emmaus ave)

J. BLACK said...

Unsure where Wake N Bake is going with this or what biz he or she is referring to, but let me rewind. I believe any LEGITIMATE i.e. legal business that doesn't do backroom hustles and pays taxes, should be privy to a ribbon cutting. It doesn't have to be the mayor and the MCall doesn't have to cover it, but it will give a sense of pride to the business owner and the surrounding businesses, who in turn, will have pride in their area which will establish a positive tax base for the city and the business community. A simple local governmental gesture can go a LONG way. You don't have to be a multi-million company to be a successful business.


monkey momma said...

New York Floral...they've supplied my hubby with my Valentine's flowers since we moved here. So, they've got sentimental value. And it's a real blow to see another business fold in Allentown. Is the owner moving or simply closing shop? What are their plans now??

"A simple local governmental gesture can go a LONG way."

You're right, but you have to assume that gov't is actually paying attention to all the details of downtown business. I suspect the mayor's office and city hall really doesn't have a handle on how business operates downtown.

Anonymous said...

Th reality is Downtown Allentown needs to facilitate the construction of more middle/higher income housing to support the retail it would like to see.

Study after study has shown that people shop at places convenient to where they live, not where they work.

With time becoming more scarce few people are willing to put a year and a ton of frustration into fixing up and old home. More well appointed lofts and townhomes (maybe not right now in this market) are what is needed.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:25, that approach has pretty much proved to be a failure in allentown. zawarski has resorted to renting the townhouses on walnut near 8th, and the developer of the loft apartments at 3th and linden has had no success in renting. the lehigh valley is a horizontal community, the middle class mostly has no desire to rub elbows with a different element. the city can be upgraded the same way it was downgraded, but the concept of creating a of middle class island doesn't work here.

Anonymous said...

Once you lose the middle class (which downtown Allentown did many years ago) it's incredibly difficult to get it back. And for Allentown it's even more difficult.

There is nothing that someone gets by living in Allentown that they would not get by living somewhere else in the valley - more directly put, there is no compelling reason for the middle class to ever move to downtown Allentown.

Gentrification only happens when there is that compelling reason.

For example, if rail service were to come into Allentown, that could be a reason for middle class people to move into Allentown so they could live near the station and make their commute easier. It has happened in many large cities.

I am not arguing that it would work or whether it's worth the investment - I'm just trying to show my thought process - there has to be a reason for people to do something.

The Banker