May 19, 2009

The Lemonade Stand


One must give the Bethlehem boy mayors, both former and current, some credit for the lemonade stand called the Sands Casino. I don't mean they had anything to do with it, but easy smiles and short memories, careers do make. Decades ago, a counter-culture writer said he was down so long, it seemed like up to him. We are ecstatic about a business that will hire 2,500 people to milk our disposal income during the worst recession in 80 years. It was built on a former foundation of America which employed 25,000 people, and provided the steel to build the architectural icons of our country.






The photo to the right shows the new casino lobby with red tubes symbolizing the gun barrel shop, ready to rob you. The top photo shows the actual shop which produced the 16 inch battleship guns which helped save the world. Drink up and have fun.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike-

Can't tell whether you are giving credit or predicting the end of civilization with this piece, but one thing is for sure - nothing was happening after ten years at this site. Ten long years after the last steel was made, no one wanted anything to do with the property. The casino will serve as the first domino toward redevelopment of a sizeable chunk of prime real estate located in the heart of an urban area. Give the mayors credit for recognizing this, if nothing else. Let's not forget how crest fallen Mayor Ed was when the license went to Bethlehem. He knows what the casino and the predicted spin off development means short tern and long term, for cities that cannot grow.

Prediction: In the next fifteen years, the area from the Fahey Bridge to the I-78 interchange will become built up with industrial jobs, entertainment, shopping, residential component and maybe even a hockey arena. Bethlehem will become a year long destination, 365 days a year. In fifteen years, Allentown will be 40 years past its prime, wondering what happened to the "good old days".

Bethlehem has benefitted having had smart leadership politically, with support from the business/private sector. Allentown, sadly has not.


Voice of Reason

michael molovinsky said...

dear voice, i have no issue with some of your observations, but i see no link to future industrial jobs. both cunningham (especially) and callahan gave countless press conferences on the steel property. they were announcing concepts by big players; in reality both of them were incapable of making or stopping anything from happening. i was attempting to provide some historical perspective to the current situation, which i find positive, but ironic.

Anonymous said...

Attended Open House yesterday. Must say folks were having a wonderful time. The employees very professional. Traffic and parking well handled and easy to access, drinks flowed. Think Sands will be huge success.

Anonymous said...

Bethelehem is out of the running for the Hockey arena, and no one will ever be able to live on the former steel lands due to contamination.

While I am sure the casino will do well, I doubt little of the vision for that area will ever come to fruition.

Bethlehem's best bet is Lehigh County style distribution centers.

The hockey arena may not come to the valley at all but if it does it will be the Allentown waterfront, by choice of the developers. If this happens you will see the urban residential and entertainment community evolve you describe above.
Pawlowski has been a strong advocate of this but it is largely out of his hands now.

Mike, I agree with your view of the Bethlehem Mayors.

Anonymous said...

Before Allentown's riverfront redevelopment ever occurs, millions upon millions of dollars will be needed to demolish antiquated structures and relocate housing, not to mention the enormously expensive PPL powerstation.
For decades this revitalization concept has been cheered by city hall and yet little seems to have moved along.
Maybe there is an arena in the works, but for visitors, even the American on Wheels museum (while very nicely done) sits aside deteriorating boarded-up structures and offers a less than attractive "front door" appearance to these very out-of-area visitors who only read of Allentown's murders and say they cannot believe the city will provide safe visitor status.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Bethelehem is out of the running for the Hockey arena, and no one will ever be able to live on the former steel lands due to contamination.

That remains to be seen (hockey), but regardless, Bethlehem will continue to revive while Allentown continues to decline. I'll stand by the prediction overall any time. The 800 lb. elephant is A-Town's crime/quality of life issues, which do not appear to be going away anytime soon. An out of town developer told me that he likes to take a drive around a prospective city before deciding on whether or not ot invest. Imagine a the ride down Hamilton, past security gates, dollar stores, litter and mental patients on leave. Not a pretty site and it gets grimmer and grimmer.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"While I am sure the casino will do well, I doubt little of the vision for that area will ever come to fruition.

Bethlehem's best bet is Lehigh County style distribution centers."

I guess the only way to prove who is right is to wait 10-15 years and check back. I'll put my money on Bethlehem succeeding and Allentown succumbing.

Adios.

Anonymous said...

MM: "in reality both of them were incapable of making or stopping anything from happening"

I agree with this statement. Mayors get too much credit (and blame) sometimes.

I don't think the last decade has been an unreasonable amount of time for that site to be vacant. It's the "normal" amount of time for big projects to unfold.
On another note, a sour note that is, I will not be patronizing the casino. I think it will change the character of the south side for the worse. Just my personal view. Some people crave that kind of change, but I like the independent businesses and laidback vibe there now. I do not like high end retail.

Anonymous said...

"On another note, a sour note that is, I will not be patronizing the casino. I think it will change the character of the south side for the worse. Just my personal view."

Fine. Your place will be taken by hundreds of thousands of people who will patronize the casino, which will lead to more investors and more development, which will eventually turn this area into a year round destination. This will include busloads of school kids visiting to see the Museum of Industrial History, the thousands of visitors who will now book Bethlehem for mid-sized conventions, the hundreds of college students who will now have a place to go and hang out, (Steel Stax) and the industrial and other jobs which will keep people in the Bethlehem area because gainful employment opportunities are created.

Your negative attitude belongs in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

" like the independent businesses and laidback vibe there now. I do not like high end retail."

That doesnt sound like a negative attitude but the opinion of someone who likes it the way it is now in Bethlehem. Nothing wrong there.

J. BLACK said...

MM,

I am hoping for the best for
B-town and hopefully, they will be able to contain any of the negativity that may try to rear it's ugly head and emerge from the lifestyles of those who frequent the SANDS. I hope they do find that it was worth the risk...
By the way, it has been DONE, per your request.

- J. BLACK
www.5minutes2shine.blogspot.com

Looking To Escape said...

Prediction: In the next fifteen years, the area from the Fahey Bridge to the I-78 interchange will become built up with industrial jobs, entertainment, shopping, residential component and maybe even a hockey arena.I had read a study on gambling long ago that stated once gambling comes into an area, industrial jobs go.
.
Atlantic City is not lined with new factories humming away with economic activity. Neither is Las Vegas.
.
It doesn't have to follow Allentown will continue to decline, but you do need a city leadership that is very proactive business friendly and less communtiy service orientated.

Anonymous said...

Looking To Escape

Fair enough...but it's a difference of opinion, and "who is right" can only be determined down the line. Please understand that I feel you are comparing apples with oranges by throwing AC and LV into this discussion. LV is gambling only and it is the main "industry" in that city. In NJ, casino gambling was supposed to revive AC all by itself, with no overall strategy. The hope was that wealth might spread all around a very economically depressed city.

In Bethlehem, we have a fine city that would like to rededvelop a large urban parcel. The plan is for casino gambling and their $700 million investment to spur other planned development in this same parcel. Big difference there. The Bethlehem Plan will work, is all I am saying. You say no- that's the difference.

VOR

Anonymous said...

They forced Trinkle's Cafe to close. Those bastards!

I just hope on of Fatlowski's developer buddies doesn't get Trinkle's liquor license...

Anonymous said...

The issue in Bethlehem is an us v. them mentality. It's pessimist v. optimist; it's staus quo v. "let's try something different".

Those in the first category are probably, generally speaking, very conservative. They shy away from the stock market, they play it safe by rooting for the Yankees and they can't see past the ends of their noses on most issues. Three cheers for Bethlehem for having balls to think outside of the box on this issue.

Anonymous said...

And what is the overall strategy in Bethlehem? A site plan?

That's all it is, Parks and Callihan have no idea, and little preference as to what goes in down there. There is no strategy for the steel site whatsoever, just a pretty site plan that has been collecting dust for 15 years now my friend.

Anonymous said...

What's planned?

Let me field that one. The plan is a multi-adaptive reuse of 1/5 of the land in Pennsylvania's 6th largest city in the heart of its
3rd largest metro area, that's all it is.

Form west to east, or left to right for geographically challenged, an innovative business incubator (done), a new home for PBS, plus a reconfiguration of former steel land intended to become the new town center and including entertainment components spearheaded by ArtQuest. A reclamation of the iconic blast furnaces, which solidifies the nod to the past, while maintaining historical perspective and providing 100 foot tall icons for all to see. A residential component, intended to bring people back into the city. Middle to upper income, college educated working people who pay taxes ans spend money in Bethlehem. A casino designed as a destination unto itself, designed to draw conventioneers from all over the eastern seaboard, which will probably pump a couple of dollars into the local economy YEAR ROUND. Moving toward Hellertown, a business park which will provide needed job opportunities for folk who did not have the advantage of a college education. Eventually, this will be framed by a passive "greenway" park, to extend westward along the former Conrail right of way, immediately south of this property.

So, quoting Mr. Anonymous - "That's all it is, Parks and Callihan have no idea, and little preference as to what goes in down there. There is no strategy for the steel site whatsoever, just a pretty site plan that has been collecting dust for 15 years now my friend."

Now you are educated and no longer need to make ignorant, uninformed statements. I feel as though I did my good deed for the day!


VOR

Anonymous said...

MM said:

"...both cunningham (especially) and callahan gave countless press conferences on the steel property. they were announcing concepts by big players; in reality both of them were incapable of making or stopping anything from happening."

What's a mayor to do? Yes, it's true that a mayor is sometimes a glorified cheerleader, but that's ok. In the case you describe, both men parlayed a friendy relationship with the sitting governor into cash and attention to Bethlehem and the Valley. That, in my estimation, is not something to sneeze at. Raising LV's profile is (was) important and both men accomplished this. Do you somehow disagree with this fact?

Also:

"...but i see no link to future industrial jobs."

Really? You really don't? That's a shame, because the entire area from the Lynn Street bridge south eastwardly toward the Interstate interchange is being developed in just that manner. I invite you to head east along I-78, exit at Hellertown and take the ride along Rt. 412 into Bethlehem. See for yourself! Eventually, this enormous area will be devoted mostly to these types of jobs.

Bottom-line: Bethlehem is succeeding where many mid-sized, eastern, former industrial cities have failed. It takes a combination of factors, including luck, but let's also face it, sometimes you make your own luck. Another area where Bethlehem has Allentown beat is in electing solid leaders. Anyone really care to compare Heydt, Afflerbach, Pawlawski to Cunningham/Callahan? How about on city council?

VOR