Nov 16, 2011

The Cattle Drive


A few years ago, Allentown decided it had too many low income people, and that they would curtail that demographic by condemning buildings. Hundreds and hundreds of buildings were tagged in center city, some for such minor violations as peeling paint. It's not uncommon to find up to four tagged buildings in one block. They tagged so many buildings, that rather than contain blight, they helped create it. They also confounded the inconsistency of their housing policy by easing the requirements to convert former commercial buildings into apartments. The end result is no less density, no less apartments, but more blight. They are now trying a herding technique. The poor are being driven off of Hamilton Street, relegated to the upper blocks of North 7th Street. The Administration hopes that Pawlowski Plaza and event center at 7th and Hamilton will attract those with a gold credit card in their wallet. They might need cattle prods to keep the perceived riffraff away.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

the determination of blighted was assessed by interns walking through town, observing facades and applying a numbering system.
this was part of a VERY crooked plan to expand the evil LVDC.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 5:06, i have no knowledge of this plan involving interns or the LVDC. i was contacted by a number of landlords several years ago about the mass tagging of buildings, for very minor issues. a large percentage of those buildings still remain tagged, vacant and now blighted. those tags, along with foreclosures, have created a fire sale of apartment buildings in center city. i will comment about the consequences of this in an upcoming post.

local said...

The goal of the blighting of center city was to get federal money and to form a new redevelopment authority. The kicker was and is that the money accrued through this scam does NOT have to be used for improving the newly created "blight zone".
One of the few rehabs performed by the LVDC involved low paid labor imported from Philadelphia gutting the building, and then patching up the mess with cheap materials.
They sold the house for less than half of the cost of the supposed rehab.
The city then had an open house with h'ordeuvres and the MC to celebrate their great success.
They walked folks through another house on the block they described as a "before" - explaining that this property would be next in the program to end the horrible blight in Allentown.
That house was never touched and has remained a rental for years.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I have it on good authority that the Bureau of Building Standards is in disarray.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

How many voters at the address of the two homes you show in the picture

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:23, no voters; when buildings are tagged, they must be vacated within 30 days or sooner.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I have it on good authority that the Bureau of Building Standards is in disarray.

Scott Armstrong

November 16, 2011 6:04 AM

MM
Heard that too for at least last two years. Staff cuts, phones go unanswered for hours. Messages often never returned. Little follow-up. Look around town. Can Scott be far off?

If only someone had free time, they could take one property, call building standards, and keep a follow-up diary.

What ever happened with mayor's
Hall of Shame properties? Was it a publicity stunt? Perhaps city hall plans to tear down blocks of old houses and rebuild.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:41, it is a complex issue. my post is slightly tabloid; it would be more journalistic to say that their intent was to get rid of problem landlords, but it begs the question, where will all the tenants go? in the process, the equal enforcement of the law, and property rights were victimized and blurred. some criticism of the bureau may be partisan. one thing i believe is clear; if the city and it's housing stock is better now, after all those orange tags, it's not apparent to me.

Anonymous said...

MM
Take Front Street from Hamilton to
Tilghman and check out property conditions. Don't include brewery because that wouldn't be fair but check housing units. Now ask yourself, "Is building standards doing its job?"

LVCI said...

Michael you said, "Allentown decided it had too many low income people,"

Allentown's city leaders remind us time and again it's all about perception.

For example, in Bethlehem these units would be referred to as "low income artist lofts".

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:08, generally, i'm not that familiar with particulars on front street, it's a complex issue. exterior paint, especially latex, is garbage. no matter how well you prep, prime and apply, within a few years it's peeling off. (they never found a bonding agent as good as lead) the buildings on front street, and much of center city, are over 120 years old. code enforcement has been very centered on renewing peeling paint which is just the lipstick.

Anonymous said...

Want a doozy: check where the rite aid from is moving. I will save you some time. 7th and allen. After they tear down the former sears building and build a suburban style drive through with a parking lot at the front. This subject is on the zoning agenda this thursday. Best of all, queen hailstone is trying to squash resident and community concerns about it by telling leaders in the community to back off. Rite aid is banking on the threat of legal action due to displacement from hamilton street to carry the day and sway the zoning board to buckle. Expect this project to actually cause grief for the administration.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:47, the lost of rite-aid on hamilton street is profound, especially for all the seniors in the highrises on union street. the hamilton street store was a former 5&10 and is large enough for their format. no other space on hamilton street is that large. those seniors will not be able to make it out to 7th and allen.

LVCI said...

Anonymous 7:47 AM said, "Want a doozy.."
That's Interesting news. So now the old Sears store is going to get the wrecking ball treatment too.
Thanks for the info
---

Zoning Hearing Board Meeting

11/17/2011 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM
City Council Chambers
CITY OF ALLENTOWN
ZONING HEARING BOARD
PUBLIC HEARING

3. A-64152 602-618 North 7th Street Appeal of Rite Aid of Pennsylvania, Inc. for variance to DEMOLISH EXISTING BUILDING AND ERECT BUILDING (86.1′ x 130.2′ irreg.), with drive-thru canopy (16′ x 20′),

You Can Read The Rest Of It HERE

michael molovinsky said...

lvci, my initial reaction is that this may well be one of the largest private, unsubsidized investments in center city in a long time, and certainly the biggest one on 7th street. typically these chain boxes are built by a developer to the merchants specs, then leased long term.

Anonymous said...

"those seniors will not be able to make it out to 7th and allen."

Not only will they not be able to make it, the ones that do make it, will risk crossing a parking lot to get there.

There is an additional level of irony in all of this: AEDC or CACLV provided a small business loan to the pharmacy located where the blood plasma center used to be. So, what we'll see is the knock down of the current Rite Aid (historic 5&10 store) to make way for the arena, the knock down of an historic department store to make way for a drive through in an urban neighborhood (booo) and then the waste of a small business loan as the small business owner of a nearby independent pharmacy gets under-cut by a national franchise.

All of this, of course, happens while Queen Hailstone tells the folks from 7th street to sit down and shut up.

"typically these chain boxes are built by a developer to the merchants specs, then leased long term."

Yes, and typically the city has rolled over on these projects and the result is the type of bank we see at the corner of hamilton and 12th street. 7th Street is an urban neighborhood. The buildings should look that way. My guess is that if Rite Aid doesn't get what it wants, it is going to file lawsuits against the city claiming eminent domain abuse. Unlike Ateiya, they actually have standing.

Anonymous said...

The Rite Aid proposal on 7th St essentially laughs at all the new setback laws designed to enhance the character of Allentown and asks to throw them out the window.

I hope the zoning hearing board holds their ground.

Anonymous said...

I know someone who was living in center city in what I thought was a fairly nice apartment for the area, but it was recently condemned for what appeared to be some very minor issues, and she has now moved out of the city. I also work downtown and take walks at lunch. I have noticed the increasing number of condemned buildings. On Hamilton, the Rite Aid and the Green Things grocery (great buffet!) are probably the only stores I actually patronized during my lunch break. The city should have torn down the condemned blocks around center city for the hockey arena and kept the few viable stores that don't sell tattoos or sneakers. Now I'll have two more reasons to "get out of Dodge" at the end of the day. I'll have to stop at Target on the way home, and I'll have to leave quickly so my parking space can be freed up for all those hockey fans.