News media reported that the roof collapsed on 7th Street because of the heavy rain. Actually, the roof collapsed from neglect during a heavy rain. I don't know anything about the building, but I do know about roofs. Well, actually, I do know a little about the building. The operators of the hardware store received a substantial facade grant. Allentown has been very generous with grants to startup businesses, on both 7th Street and Hamilton Street. A number of these businesses closed within a year, but the building and facade remained improved for the landlord's benefit. This blog documented such grants on Hamilton Street, and The Morning Call later did the story. According to The Morning Call, the owners of the 7th Street building could not be contacted after the collapse this weekend, their phone numbers had been disconnected. I assume that they were more available during their tenant's grant process. I understand the temptation by elected officials and bureaucrats to want to dress up the downtown street fronts, especially with the taxpayer's money. Maybe the Facade Program should be renamed the Charade Program.
UPDATE: In theory the idea of subsidizing manufacturing facilities, potentially large employers, through tax incentives can be justified, although the devil often lies in the details. The idea of subsidizing small retail through grants is increasingly proving to be little more than short term delusion.