Jun 29, 2015

A Ghost Town Called Allentown


On Saturday afternoon, albeit in a very light drizzle, I parked at 10th and Hamilton and walked down to center square. On the way back, I stopped at Tony Lukes for takeout. Besides the lonely clerk at the empty steak shop, I didn't encounter one other person. When I participated in the NIZ debate several years ago, Pawlowski's NIZ representative said that they were going to eradicate the cancer. That of course referred to the former merchants and their customers. What they have done is trade what they perceived as low life for no life. The plan now is for Reilly to add people to the mix, by building apartments for the milleniums. Not exactly an organic plan for urban renewal.

14 comments:

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't recall you misrepresenting your picture as having been taken on Saturday afternoon. I do recall the program in which a NIZ cheerleader dod describe the "cancer" in Allentown. That included low income people as well as the shops who struggle to serve them. When Talen Energy goes, as it certainly will, that will be another gaping new hole in Pawklowski's Potemkin Village. The entire NIZ is a misrepresentation, but your anonymous critic and Pawlowski cheerleader seeks to divert attention from the harsh truth.

Anonymous said...

In your defense, don't see anywhere in the column that says that this is a photo taken while you were there at that time. I do believe it accurately represents much of the time the look of Hamilton Street as it exists now. No one can say that any amount of taxpayer investment in this area has transformed it back into what private investment used to produce by the sweat and work of private store owners.

Anonymous said...

I see the same thing, no big event, no people.Can't we offer some incentives to bring people downtown to fill up all these new shops and restaurants? Why not make every purchase tax deductible or just give people money if they promise to spend it there?

Allentown Democrat Voter

michael molovinsky said...

comments 7:02 and 7:15 reference three comments from someone around 6:30 am, which foamed at the mouth that the photograph could not have possibly been taken on saturday, because he enlarged the brewworks television screen, and that game wasn't on saturday, etc. etc. i have deleted the comments and my original reply. the contributed photo was taken last night, sunday evening.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

On Saturday afternoon I was forced to detour down Hamilton because Turner was blocked off. I breezed straight though, no traffic or crowds. It was shiny and there were some people inside the eateries, but no where near the levels I would think necessary for sustainability.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Funny thing about building your city's future mostly around a special event venue. No special event, less upward 'build.'

Crowds come to a venue neighborhood because they MUST. It's the ONLY place the desired reason for their visit happens. Not much can stop them from reaching their goal. Not parking issues and expense, not even urine- soaked parking deck elevators. They have expensive tickets already in hand. Non-event days are another matter altogether.

At present, most of Greater Lehigh Valley's permanent residents have little interest in downtown Allentown. If they live elsewhere, but work downtown, many won't hang around after work, nor return on their non-working hours. No need to. Better shopping, more restaurant and bar choices, easier and less expensive parking, can be found much closer to home in a neighborhood they obviously feel safer in.

Building a sizeable downtown residential base is absolutely essential. Plus, that base needs to be people with disposable income. Without this, smaller merchants will be 'cold' during non-event evenings. Thus, building and filling residences downtown is necessary. Moreover, those residents really should be persons who don't already live in Pennsylvania!

So, Allentown must finally acknowledge that nagging discussion about public education, that perception of crime. The added expense of more police presence, brighter lighting, clean teams, free or less costly parking EVERY evening. This whole arena-as-catalyst concept has failed over and over, all across America. Allentown is not a 'gimme.'

Many more event nights, too! Maybe then, state taxpayers can BEGIN to get back some of the outrageous cost to build this arena.

Fred Windish

michael molovinsky said...

although the morning call hasn't mentioned it, the new hotel must have a occupancy rate near zero. downtown, in much better days, couldn't even support the hilton, when it first opened at 9th and hamilton.

Anonymous said...

I was in Easton Saturday evening and again Sunday evening. You couldn't find a parking space and the streets were full of all sorts of people coming and going. The place was booming!

michael molovinsky said...

@1:30, the growth in easton was organic, one successful restaurant leading to another. in allentown, everything was induced by ultra low rents. never the less, even with free rent, not all the new eateries will survive. it takes more than a few good nights a month to keep going

Anonymous said...

Mike, you're obviously wrong (sarcasm alert) - the Lehigh Valley Live website has an article that announces that Allentown is becoming the "dining hotspot of the Lehigh Valley." Or so says Mayor Pawlowski, quoted by Lynn Olanoff (who obviously thinks "reporting" doesn't involve asking questions or getting up and out of her office).

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/food/index.ssf/2015/06/allentown_becoming_the_dining.html#incart_river

Did you ever get the feeling they are writing press releases to counter the valid points you make here?

The Banker

Anonymous said...

I am a 35 Yr old mother of one, a professional who works for one of the largest employers in LV. I grew up my whole life in Allentown. As excited as I am to see downtown Allentown, I'm worried too that it's not sustainable. I think the main problem is that people don't want to stick around here because of the school district. If the long-term plan is to have professionals eat and shop in the city they live in, they need to have confidence in the school district. Everyone I know runs to Macungie when they have a child.

michael molovinsky said...

@7:50, no, there is no long term plan. even the mayor wants out, that's why he ran for governor, and now senator. it's strictly a real estate deal. several connected people get to build a $billion dollars worth of real estate, paid for by state taxes. in years to come, the NIZ will be a case study in political cronyism, and defrauding taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Many good comments here. I haven't yet dined downtown and don't have any plans to do so. A quick look at the restaurants' online menus leaves me empty. Living in Obama's economy makes me lose my appetite for $18 burgers and foods fashionable on the Upper East Side....of Manhattan! What the NIZ cheerleaders forget is what made Allentown of old a vibrant place wasn't some high-priced eateries. Rather it was three major department stores, several furniture stores, jewelry shops with long local histories, etc. Today's NIZ Yuppies are not hanging around after work to shop the Halls of Hess's, et al, nor are they hanging in the restaurants. They just want to get to the daycare center, pick up the kiddies and head home to the hated suburbs....especially all those bankers who come from Berks and Montgomery Counties.

doug_b said...

This is the new false economy - it's everywhere. Restaurants, entertainment, and sporting events. Unfortunately, none of these businesses produce anything, and they pay relatively low wages, no benefits, part time work.