Jan 8, 2010
Reality In Short Supply
A new blog, Allentown Afterthoughts, reports that three more businesses have closed. I'm familiar with all three, having written about them before when Lanta stopped the transfer stops on Hamilton Street. En Vogue was a small women's store on 8th. They were double victims of City Hall and Lanta policy. A small public meter lot next to their business was taken away and given to the Allentown Brew Works for its private use; The Lanta transfer bus stop across from their store was closed. The closure of Quiznos and City Line Coffee are especially ironic. Both were housed in the CityLine Building, given both KOZ and outright grants and subsidies by Allentown. Apparently all of Pawlowski's men couldn't keep Humpty Dumpty together. Afterthoughts reports that an art gallery opened, but fails to disclose it's a temporary rent free donation by the landlord of a vacant storefront.
It will be easy forAllentown Afterthoughts to become just another city puff blog, of which there are now a dozen or so. But its owner, Jeff Pooley, a communications professor at Muhlenberg, who lives in center city, may decide to break that mold. He does disclose that his wife is Director of the Allentown Redevelopment Authority. A recent article in The Morning Call states that Emmaus has become a refuge for shops fleeing Allentown. It mentions that the customers of a Cuisine store, formally on 9th st. in Allentown, were afraid to come downtown, hence the move to Emmaus. The article then mentions the success of Main Street Program on Allentown's 7th Street. A viable Hispanic Business District has evolved there, but it's totally unrealistic to think that the Emmaus clientele would shop there. It's important to recognize that the previous statement is not intended to be classist or racist. Walmart and Brooks Brothers understand that they have different clientele. The manager of 7th St., Pete Lewnes, who is doing an excellent job, is quoted as saying that Hamilton Street needs a Main Street Program. In reality it simply needs its former customer base which Lanta took away when it removed the bus transfer stops. The Brew Works and CityLine, both on Hamilton Street, received much more money than any Main Street Program would provide.
I understand that public officials will never look to this blog for lessons on optimism, but until which time they inject their goals with some realism, the grants from our tax money will not receive much return on investment.