Jun 30, 2012

Allentown:Fountain of Delusion

When the PPL Plaza first opened in 2003, the architect envisioned suburban families celebrating the rebirth of Allentown, in the mist of the plaza's fountains; Reality was a low income free water park. I don't know if it degenerated into a free car wash, I haven't seen any water on there for a while, but we do have a new fountain of delusion. Amendments to the NIZ Law have been passed by our conscientious State Representatives. "I think it puts the whole litigation to bed and allows us to proceed with the redefinition of downtown Allentown. This is in the best interest of the Lehigh Valley and the whole commonwealth that the third largest city is revitalized," said state Sen. Jennifer Mann, D-Allentown. Said state Rep. Justin Simmons, R-Lehigh: "The changes in the law will take care of both the local litigation and address and constitutional issues raised by the original law," He said the arena represents an "opportunity for the city. You can't have a strong Lehigh Valley and have its' biggest city struggling." In all due respect to Jenn and Jus, are you serious? Not only will the arena fail to revitalize Allentown, it will make it a hopeless cause for the next 30 years. With the block of stores now gone on one side of Hamilton, the street has become a dead zone. It will make little difference if it's a hole or a closed arena during the daytime, this project already succeeded in killing Hamilton Street. "One of the ugliest episodes in my 30 years working in the Lehigh Valley is almost over," said ANIZDA board member Alan Jennings, executive director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. "Maybe now we can bury the hatchet and get on to a new day for Allentown and the Lehigh Valley." Alan, let me tell you what ugly is. Ugly is displacing 34 businesses with a white elephant, which has buried Allentown's future. All available resources will be directed to this boondoggle for decades, while the remainder of the city languishes.


Anonymous said...

I have never seen a more brainwashed group of legislators in my life. Additionally, Gov Corbett, who I used to respect, was bought, hook, line and sinker. The squandered dollars that could have been put to much better use, for the next 30 years, is absolutely disgraceful. I doubt anyone responsible for this horrific NIZ legislation put a pen to paper to see how much money will be redirected from the state treasury. They didn't because they decided not to confront the realities of this abusiive legislation. Makes mr sick.

Anonymous said...

Great more blighted properties to be posted monday? This rewriting a law that is unconstittional is unconstititional. All aspects must be tossed and brang in front of the house again next year. A bill is not a bill if it is considered uncostititional and than just flip the scrip. It must go through the hole process again? This is mass media propaganda at local levels. Brown and pudusky are out of jobs in the very near future.

Bill Coker said...

Great post! Anyone who thinks a minor league hockey venue open approx. 40 nights a year will make a downtown viable is just nuts. The former merchants may not have been haughty-taughty but they were successful and obviously profit making or they would have been closed. That business will be hard to replace.

Bill Coker said...

Now that many successful minority operated businesses have been closed, a minor league hockey arena only open 40 or so nights a year will replace them? What can go wrong with a plan like this?

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

The people who comment here and your story are hilarious. Your view that the south 700 block of Hamilton was so vibrant that by tearing it down will rewind the lock. The funny part of that belief is that the block was business' that catered to low income people. That is not a loss. Was there ever a multi million $ hospital on that site? No! There will be. Was there a 200 room hotel on that site? There will be. Was there a 10,000 seat arena for concerts on that site? There will be. I guess an urban clothes store trumps that... wake up and look in the mirror. You look foolish.

michael molovinsky said...

future, your comment is nicer than one i rejected, wishing me dead. the hospital is a sports medicine clinic; it would be better if LVHN instead made more of a commitment to 17th and chew. The hotel will only succeed in putting the one at 9th and hamilton into flop house status. the concert venue will fail because of competition from bethlehem. you look like anonymous cheerleader, playing with taxpayer money

Anonymous said...

Is the water spray working? Sorry. haven't been downtown.

Anonymous said...

Bill Coker said...

Great post! Anyone who thinks a minor league hockey venue open approx. 40 nights a year will make a downtown viable is just nuts. The former merchants may not have been haughty-taughty but they were successful and obviously profit making or they would have been closed. That business will be hard to replace.

July 1, 2012 12:44 AM

Few imagines make visitors feel safe than the look of lots of shoppers in a downtown. The loss of these merchants will be felt for years. Fancy bulding fronts where insiders rush to escape the environment does not a shopper make.

Anonymous said...

The fountain, the architectural signature of this landmark building is never turned on.

A beautiful,mute,poetic metafore.

Anonymous said...

"Stadiums tend to not be good neighbors at developing areas around them," says VICTOR MATHESON, who teaches sports economics at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Matheson says people are "often grasping at straws" when they turn to Palaces of Sport in hopes of spurring economic gains in depressed communities.


by ROMY VARGHESE ... 6/21/2012

monkey momma said...

The businesses torn down on the 700 block catered to low income people because that's the market downtown!! That's who LIVES there. People NEEDED that pharmacy and that dollar store for their daily lives. The shops across the street and surrounding that block relied on that foot traffic. It was not glamorous, but it was a response to the market that actually exists, not the fantasy market imagined on the rooftop of a parking lot while champagne is poured. Sometimes the reality of business is gritty, but that's real life in business.

michael molovinsky said...

monkey momma, from that reality, from that foot traffic, you could grow and even upgrade, but not from the desert of wishful thinking. on saturday i stopped in on a realist's promotion, alfonso todd, the only action in town that day.

doug_b said...

As an ex-Allentonian..

I assume that a hotel would be used by business people. But how many businesses are there in downtown Allentown? Execpt for PP&L or the city/county.

I've been told that the hotel at 4th and Hamilton is a flop house - doesn't seem like that place or the Hotel Trailer could make it.

It seems like social engieering to locate a sports medicine clinic in the downtown - force those middle class people from the 'burbs' come to Allentown

Lastly, the hockey arena: bread and circus worked for the Romans, for a while.

Anonymous said...

Because I came up in the Dynamo system, I can easily see your destuctive, anti-development agenda at work, once again, Comrade Molovinsky.

The Morning Call should have a front page, above-the-fold headline celebrating this great victory of Chairman Pawlowski in his heroic effort to build the most expensive minor league Palace of Sport ever and spectacularly transform the City With No Spending Limits!

A wimpy article on page 6, that's it? ... Absolutely disgraceful. There is obviously still much Progress yet to be made here.



Anonymous said...

The City of Allentown has posted Danger, No Swimming, No Wading signs on the Jordan Creek at Jordan Park site of the near drowning of three people on two separate occasions in the last two weeks.

The signs were unveiled at an afternoon news conference along the creek attended by Mayor Ed Pawlowski, City Council President Julio Guridy and City Councilwoman Cynthia Mota.

Pawlowski also announced that the city will be reducing the admission fee at the Jordan Park Pool to $2.00 for anyone ages six years to adult on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and holidays effective tomorrow, Saturday, June 30. Daily admission is currently $5.50 for adults and $3.50 for children ages 6-to-17 seven days a week.

“We need to take an immediate step to entice our residents to swim in our pools and not in Jordan Creek,” said Pawlowski. “Our pools are staffed by trained lifeguards and are a much safer alternative to swimming in the creek which is particularly dangerous at this location.”

Mota announced that she will be examining the feasibility of city ordinances governing swimming in creeks in the city. Mota said, “I was at this spot two weeks ago when a child nearly drowned and an adult almost lost his life trying to save the child. This isn’t a safe spot for swimming. I urge parents to caution their children about the dangers and encourage them to cool off in our swimming pools or spray parks.”

The City of Allentown’s two free spray park locations are at Buck Boyle Park and 5th and Allen Street Park. Hours are 12 noon to 7pm daily.

The city Department of Parks & Recreation also operates and maintains the Cedar Beach, Mack and Irving pools.


michael molovinsky said...

@1:08, thank you for that information. in this summer period of great heat, i wish that the pool at fountain park was also open. it's closed over no more than $160,000 in needed repairs. compare that with a city building a $220,000,000 dollar hockey arena. allentown, city of wrong priorities.

Anonymous said...

I know where all the water for the PPL Plaza fountain is.

They've used it all to mix the Kool-Aid that the NIZ supporters have been drinking.

Anonymous said...

Mota announced that she will be examining the feasibility of city ordinances governing swimming in creeks in the city. Mota said, “I was at this spot two weeks ago when a child nearly drowned and an adult almost lost his life trying to save the child. This isn’t a safe spot for swimming. I urge parents to caution their children about the dangers and encourage them to cool off in our swimming pools or spray parks.”

Another ordinance Cynthia?
Really. How about enforcing a few already on the books. How about enforcing the 20 MPH speed limit in one of the city's largest parks. Who controls speeding? What happened to the park warden hired years ago to bike each park on an hourly basis?

Anonymous said...

I have to assume, given all their cheerleading exhibitions, that The Morning Call would have been proud to announce that all hurdles to the construction of the record-smashing Palace of Sport have been cleared with the passage of Governor Tom Corbett's 27.66 billion dollar budget.

No front page, above-the-fold headline sincerely startled me.

Perhaps the "transformative" Allentown Arena is not anywhere near as popular as Chairman Pawlowski and The Morning Call have led me to believe previously.

Perhaps people are paying attention to the fact that the average minor league hockey rink built in the last ten years cost an average of 80.0 million dollars and that no minor league rink has EVER been built for more than 100.0 million dollars --- this according to The Morning Call's own (if rather hidden) reports.


Anonymous said...

Mike, I want to thank you for all the work you did to attempt to foil the foolishness of the NIZ. I live here in Allentown now and have for the last 20 years. I came back to the area because I wanted to be centrally located to my family, some who are in the Pocono's where I am from originally , and some in NYC where my grand father and grand mother came to in the late 1800's from Ireland. I fought hard to stop the Tocks Island Damn project up there and preserve the upper Delaware river so I know how frustrating confronting the progressive powers that be, can be.

Thanks again, Mike and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

monkey momma said...
"The businesses torn down on the 700 block catered to low income people because that's the market downtown!! That's who LIVES there. People NEEDED that pharmacy..."

You're correct, but always put what they did together with what that guy (cannot remember the name) said during the televised debate featuring MM. "They're a cancer..."

Always remember that. That is really what the developers, the pols and others think. They see vermin and they consider themselves pest management experts.


Anonymous said...

MOTA is a lost ball in high weeds. Clueless about our parks.

michael molovinsky said...

on MCALL, you can see the out takes from the photo shoot about trout creek park (where I'm called a landowner, instead of a park activist) mota should look at the boy doing a back flip into the rocky 14 inch deep trout creek. time to open fountain park pool

Anonymous said...

I am a Center City resident, and I am in the process of developing a small business that would be in Allentown and employ other residents. The NIZ and the arena project have greatly improved the climate for that business, and I believe will increase my quality of life as a resident and those I would hire . I am not drinking the "Kool-aide", I am a pragmatic businessman who cares about the future of my community...

Anonymous said...

Yes MS MOTA,another ordinance should do it.
Allentown doesn't enforce the Speed Limit in the parks or the NO ALCOHOL policy.One Way Streets are ignored and unenforced.Still burning spent charcoal is dumped where ever. There aren't enough trash barrels and NO recycling bins.Music blares at painful volume on holidays and weekends.
Several deer were reported shot and killed in the Little Lehigh Parkway and a guy was arrested in the creek after firing a gun at the Fish Hatchery.Dogs and cats, living and dead,(mostly living) are abandoned in the parks regularly.
Cars park and drive on the grass and speed up gravel paths and parking lots on weekends.
MS MOTA,will your ordinance keep poor kids out of the Robinhood area of the creek when raw sewage flows in the creek after a storm. Might be good to include that,no ?
Yeah,this may be hard for someone not knowledgable about Allentown's parks to believe.Check it out--all true.
Maybe Friends of the Parks will give you a tour. They are professional experts on Allentown's parks.
Yep,another ordinance should do it MS MOTA. Julio G. can hold your hand while you do your research.
Thanks for your service and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...


Some might say that the archtects/planners responsible for the newer PPL building included fountains befitting PA's third largest city and in an effort to attract further development. With PPL tower in one corner, with a relatively new hotel at another, plus two brand new office buidings, 9th & Hamilton should be a thriving heart of a transformed city. Has the development transformed Allentown? So now, two blocks east, ten or so years later, similar development designed to transform Allentown. The only problem is- the office workers (must be thousands) go home at 5 pm and avoid Allentown on weekends. The restaurants intended to attract these folks are surviving, if at all, just barely. We are to believe that the mega-block will transform Allentown by creating a reason for people to come downtown. How will the arena be different say, from PPL and Butz buildings? You can compell people to work in the downtown, but cannot expect them to stay and explore. I am guessing this will be the discovery about the arena, hotel and the medical facility. There is unlikely to be any spin off development. People will come to see the Phantoms, maybe 8,000 at a time, but it is unlikely that they will arrive early to "see what Allentown offers". They are also likely (if hungry) to eat inside the arena, not explore the cuisine of Hamilton Street. Allentown is battling the perceptions (dirty, dangerous) as best they can, but until they address the root cause of a city's decline, all this development is lipstck on a pig. Maybe the truth is, that regular folks share the perception of that NIZ proponent who described the "cancer" in the downtown. That perception is killing Allentown. Maybe the fountains are "off" because they attracted you know whos.


michael molovinsky said...

VOR, the arena, in the hockey configuration, cannot hold 8,500. i believe the seating is for slightly less than 5,000. in reality, classism exists, if not actual racism. if the new low income demographic is perceived as a cancer, no amount of building or money spent will isolate the new project from the realities of who lives nearby. i believe that the area is urbane enough for mixed income uses to succeed, if done properly. unfortunately, for our taxes, this project is not being done properly. they are not trying to melt the markets, but separate them; thus the expensive upcoming failure.

ironpigpen said...

The Glens Falls Civic Center, the current home of the Adirondack Phantoms, only has 4,806 fixed seats.

The club can also make 1,000 places on the floor available either with seats or as standing-room-only in addition to another 1,000 standing-room-only places along the promenade.

The Glens Falls Civic Center was built in 1979 for the reported figured of $ 3.0 million dollars.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, that figure would translate into roughly $ 9.6 million dollars today.

In stunning contrast, Chairman Pawlowski's Palace of Sport is reportedly expected to cost $ 158.0 million dollars for the ice rink alone with the total project cost anticipated at $ 220.0 million dollars, according to The Morning Call.

City With No Spending Limits is accurate enough, if only in my opinion.


ironpigpen said...

With all due respect, Mr. Molovinsky :

3/21/2012 ... The Morning Call

"The Allentown Arena would have 8,500 permanent seats, with a capacity of 10,000 for concerts."


There are other headlines and articles from other sources at this same time period back in March claiming the capacity for ice hockey is 8,500.

The official website for the Palace of Sport --- http://www.phantomsarena.com --- also claims a capacity of 8,500 as they attempt to generate interest for the purchase of season tickets.

You may have posted it before, Mr. Molovinsky ... but can you kindly re-list a link for the "hockey configuration" please?

I never felt a need to see it until now. Lord knows I certainly do not trust the Propagandists down at The Morning Call. Why would I, or anyone else with half an ounce of common sense for that matter?



michael molovinsky said...

for a link to appear in the comments, the HTML tags must be used with the web address

ironpigpen said...

I did find the Master Plan for the transformative Palace of Sport at www.allentownpa.gov ...

... it claims 8,500 fixed seats, as well.

Of course, it also claimed that "permanent financing for the Arena will be secured early in 2012."

To be fair --- they do not list their definition of "early" ... perhaps the Developers or whoever cranked out this report meant July all along.

I also found it interesting that the Master Plan claims 75 permanent and 300 part-time jobs will be created (or saved?) by the record-smashing Palace of Sport.

I have to assume the Phantoms will be bringing most of the 75 permanent (front office) people with them from Glens Falls, New York. They are already trained. They already have experience, i.e., know the ropes.

So let's see ... $ 158.0 million dollars divided by 300 part-time people equals "only" $ 526,666 per part-time job!

Is this the 'new normal' for Fiscal Responsibility in the City With No Spending Limits or is it merely the Cost of Development in a Progressive Liberal world?

Why is it that I never see The Morning Call, or anyone else for that matter, asking exactly how much bang will everybody be getting for their buck?

I might ask why I never see articles telling me how much Economic Development the arrival of Coca-Cola Park on the city's East Side brought. It has been five years now, after all. But I think I already know why I don't see ever such articles --- even after all this time has been spent debating the relative merits of the notorious NIZ ...


Anonymous said...

Let's see how the new arena and new slick stuff addresses the street and surrounding buildings and the public spaces. Will there be any public connection? Will their egotisical structures "fit" into the city space and provide the public with a reason to want to go there. Or will it be a blank wall along hamilton street with no connection to the urban fabric of our city. By the way it is amazing how the "Jaindl" building was the only building left standing in the corner of all this mess! If I owned it, i would have been torn down for sure.

If you want see connections go take a walk along 7th between chew and Allen aroung 11-2pm. this part of the city is alive and starting to show signs of life, with new "sparks" of activity... some new small business, some owners renovating their own spaces, people walking around, doing things, being citizens... let's encourage more of this! Way to go. Everytime I drive by this area I want to get out and walk around. That's a good thing!

Anonymous said...

Turns on 8-4 atleast during the weekdays if it's not raining