Peter Lewnes is managing to transform 7th Street for about $1 million, while Mayor Pawlowski will spend about $220 million for his transformation. At the end of the projects, 7th Street will be much more successful, in both the number of people attracted, and the total dollars those people spend. To be blunt, which is too easy for me, I think 7th Street would have as many new stores and shoppers without Lewnes' efforts. I think that the Hispanic business district was a natural progression of Allentown's demographic changes. However, considering it's the nature of government to meddle, Lewnes has given us an unusually tremendous return on our investment. He has attractively restored dozens of buildings, created appealing signs, and succeeded in significantly upgrading Allentown's gateway. Yesterday, I visited an independent pharmacy on the 500 Block, located in the former Coleman Electric building. Although not yet enhanced by Lewnes' artistic palette, the pharmacist had four assistants and a delivery driver. Another success on 7th Street.
Today's Morning Call has a 5,000 word feature on 7th Street. Above is my article, from June 2012, in 162 words that will actually be read.
UPDATE: Upon reevaluation, the feature story by Emily Opilo provides background material that I mistakenly take for granted. I have probably been on 7th Street at least once a week for my entire adult life. Years ago, mostly every day.
Previous Posts on Subject: The Main Street Program, October 2009
Allentown's Business Barrio, January 2010