Mar 28, 2012

Blogging and The Arena

Over the years, or more accurately, over the controversies, I had developed a unique relationship with the merchants of Hamilton Street. Last spring, I was honored to join them at their meeting with City officials, concerning the abrupt demands to sell their property. Despite their decades of keeping the lights on for Hamilton Street, their departure was swift and without mercy. They were literally evicted just prior to the Christmas shopping season. As the buildings and history was leveled to the ground, my interest in the controversy has waned. Last week, I speculated about the current state of the project; I believe that the Allentown Arena and office buildings will have some success with foot traffic. The actual cost to bring those people here, will never be known. The Lehigh Valley Hospital sports medical facility will guarantee some traffic flow. Fellow blogger Jon Geetings noted my concession with this reply: What I wonder about is why anyone should care how much it costs to create a larger production cluster in Allentown. We’re talking about PA’s third largest city. If all this ends up costing $2-3 billion in taxpayer subsidies, but it works, is anyone actually going to be arguing that this wasn’t worth doing 50 years from now? Although the former stores of Hamilton Street stood for 150 years, I seriously doubt if the new arena will be here in fifty years. I think that the taxpayer cost does matter, especially since they had no say in the matter. Last, but not least, an anonymous comment: Another I hate Allentown blog post by South Whitehall resident Molovinsky. He fails to mention all the new development as usual. For Molovinsky it is 1950/60's or bust. It is unfortunate that you live so far in the past. Yes, I came from a era when if the public was not given a vote on such a large project, they would have at least been afforded input. Our politicians were arrogant enough to put the cost of this Transformation not only on the local residents, but the surrounding municipalities as well.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike,

If we thought the government was the best vehicle for economic growth and/or urban development we would be liberals too. Being able to read we know better.

Scott Armstrong

Hyde 'N Creek Paddleboats said...

Personally, I favored the arena at the waterfront site and the decision to move it to the downtown was extremely swift. However, since it's after the fact now, the buildings are already gone, I also look forward to the arena and what it can mean for Allentown.

My main point of this comment is simple: I think the surrounding communities should offer little objection to a portion of their taxes going to this and similar projects. Their communities are made up of people that left Allentown and enabled it to get to the point that it's in today. The surrounding communities are built upon that foundation that Allentown once created, therefore, those communities should act positively in helping to support their neighbors that are in the most need- that being the downtown areas of Allentown that have been left behind so many years ago. You can't have an interest on the history and preservation of the city without a feasible plan or source of support. To expect anything different one should just encourage a massive bulldozer project to start over.

I wrote a brief article with a few suggestions in my latest newsletter based upon my support of wanting something better for Allentown: http://enews.heartlandtechnologies.com/eNews/EZMicro/Allentown_Feb12.htm

Anonymous said...

Hyde 'N Creek Paddleboats..
I certainly disagree with you about this horrible waste of needed money. This arena is a sham deal designed to be highly profitable to a small group of people - at tax payers expense.
I believe your view of the Parking authority is spot on.

michael molovinsky said...

hyde 'n creek, i did one better than you. i bought a two unit in west park (years ago) and de-converted it. but anyway, more to the point; you're spot wrong about the hall of shame. look up the topic on my search engine. one of the previous winners was rewarded by having the city buy his buildings, at far much more than he ever wanted in the first place, rewarding his neglect. furthermore, some of those worse eyesores you see are owned by the city. third, all their inspection programs are not applied in an equitable fashion. for you to encourage any program which officially denigrates a property owner, only shows how unfamiliar you are with the system.

RS said...

To Hyde 'N Creek Paddleboats.
Some of us never ever lived in Allentown and trust me we don't ever plan on moving there. The problem is not just that the surrounding areas are being forced to give up some of their money but that they were never even consulted. Furthermore, the arrogant legislators who passed this were condescending toward the business who got kicked out while greasing the skids for the big campaign contributors. Then the legislators who said that this was so simple anyone could understand it can't even guess how it will affect the surrounding areas or are unwilling to tell them because it's either too complicated or really bad. Finally, the legislators who slipped this by the townships want those townships to trust that none of the townships' money will ever be used.

In PA in God we trust, but you'd better watch you wallet when dealing with the state government.

Anonymous said...

Hyde 'N Creek Paddleboats.
If you had a couple hundred million dollars or so to spend in Allentown, would you build an arena?
Of any sort?
Seem like a rock solid investment?
I suppose that you would spend MY money on this venture.....

Hyde 'N Creek Paddleboats said...

Michael- converting a two unit to a single family dwelling is admirable for sure, if I had a need for the space I certainly would have followed suit.

In regards to the hall of shame, you're right: I'm not familiar with a lot of things that go on within the city's commercial and governing processes- but I'm slowly getting up to speed and appreciate reading your blog. I support the inspections, but how can they be carried out more equitably? After reading my recent article, you know that I feel strongly that many of the problems associated with the city are due to the extreme number of rental properties in Allentown's downtown. The Hall of Shame is an example of a tool that could be used to promote dealing with problems, however, I think inspections should have more to look at that just code violations. For example, living conditions and property aesthetics should have some sort of guidelines that can be rated. In doing so, tenants would also have a burden of compliance to maintain the quality of the structures in the city.

As far as the arena, I don't agree with a lot that's gone on, especially the demolition of historic buildings that I truly appreciate. I support the development with an ambitious belief that improvements can follow. I am skeptical that only a few wealthy parties will benefit from the arena development in the short-term but my hope is that more will eventually gain in opportunities, safety and the overall outlook for the city.

RS and 3rd Anonymous: Like it or not, Allentown is the primary city in the Lehigh Valley and its improvements will have an effect on the surrounding communities. For example, if the element that commits the majority of crime in the city is allowed to overtake the city further, the surrounding communities will grow as the target for their acquiring of new wealth. Although I don't believe the arena project addresses this, it's a start. There are much bigger things to clean up than an arena project that appears to be on the speed of "full steam ahead."

I know this comment isn't going to be favored by many, but I am in favor of creating a larger Lehigh Valley with consolidated government, school districts, etc. I am fully in favor of a community, where neighbors are neighbors and people actually care about the overall environment outside their fenced yard.