Jun 26, 2015

The Thin Veneer Of Allentown's NIZ

In the 1930's, wooden buildings would be covered with shingle that looked like brick, it was called tinselbrick. The thin masonry facade of the NIZ buildings is certainly a higher grade imitation, but an imitation never the less. Among all the promotion and ballyhoo, occasionally we get a glimpse of truth from the local media. They wonder if there really is enough tenants for all the new offices? They occasionally wonder if there is enough patrons for all the new restaurants? They reveal that Starbucks itself really didn't come to Allentown, but rather J.B. Reilly leased a franchise for Reilly Center, and is running it himself. In a day or two the paper goes back, and refers to the Starbucks opening as a symbol of the NIZ's success. The hospital was going to open their orthopedic center at 7th and Hamilton. Thinking better of that idea, instead they located it at the Westfield building in South Whitehall. Their arena location instead became their fitness center. We now learn that their employees are demanding increased security before they will use the facility. The arena was supposed to have 126 events a year. This year they will be about 100 short. Although the paper refers to the restaurants and shops, there are no shops. People are wondering if they want to pay $2 an hour to park while picking up their cheesesteak, or drink a beer. Reilly can induce the businesses to relocate for the virtual free rent. The unique NIZ tax arrangement has Pennsylvania taxpayers paying for this business illusion. Enjoy the show, you're paying for it.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This entry is sad to read. Yesterday a friend mentioned that you've been fighting for city treasurers for years and years. I hadn't thought about it but it's true.
How can we ever thank you enough?

michael molovinsky said...

@6:25, i believe that the pawlowski administration has to be made aware about how important the WPA structures are to so many allentonians. email bill.white@mcall.com please note dot between bill and white. perhaps with enough emails, white will write about it, and indirectly pressure the city.

Anonymous said...

I worked for years and years at the County Assistance Office two blocks south which had no problem with attendance. Don't sell the area short yet.

Anonymous said...

The NIZ is a disappointment considering the embarrassment of riches it's provided.

I see where the Jaindls may benefit from a forty million dollar grant from the county planning commission to do something with the Corman rail line. I wonder if the Jaindl match is just NIZ money in disguise and it's just more enriching of private developers by the public. It's ironic this grant happens months after they tried getting pops on their board.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:53, i'm very dubious of this grant. that rail line is historically the LVRR Old Main, and should remain. the jaindl's wanted to remove the line on their property, and now seem to be benefiting from a government grant with a % contribution by them. yes, the planning commission is just another part of the old boy network. this area is just ingrown with cronyism. look at the trexler trust appointing charles marcon, even though the industrial museum board squandered $millions in bethlehem, and was investigated by the attorney general's office.

Anonymous said...

It's actually a colossal financial failure for average Pennsylvania taxpayers! But, there's still time. Notice how the new tactic is to claim it could take another 10-15 years to show financial benefit. Comforting. Except by then, money for repairs and renovations will need to be found.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Somebody has to start publicizing the boards that make these decisions. It wouldn't surprise me in the least that many of the directors, chairs are all massive conflicts of interest and it is just one back scratching another.

Somebody is telling Chris Kocher and Becky Bradley what to do. Somebody is telling Kocher to go knock dams down and Bradley to go out and make the Jaindl family richer. I think they are ok with doing what they do so long as they stay out of the public view and they themselves aren't questioned.

I never understood why Marcon got a pass and keeps getting a pass. At best that board was incompetent. At worst it was a board that handled things so badly that it got itself investigated. You want a guy like that on your board?

Anonymous said...

A few days ago one of your readers asked where was the former Good Shepherd farm located. The barn is the one nearest what is now rented as the Road Runners club house but a century ago served as a dwelling for the Good Shepherd Hospital farm. The barn does have a second story door stuck in open position and an air conditioner appears to have been cut into a wall. The front of this barn serves as a public works parking lot and a city garbage truck at times can be seen using the road in front of the Road Runners building for weekend parking.

The hospital's history states:
1915: Two Farms Purchased on the Lehigh River
In 1914, Papa Raker convened Good Shepherd’s Advisory Board to discuss a new idea. He wanted to purchase two farms comprising 225 acres of land in Salisbury Township, about 1 mile southwest of Good Shepherd Home. The farms would give the able-bodied children and elderly individuals at the home a place to find employment, recreation and an occasional change of scenery. The advisory board accepted the idea and, in 1915, Good Shepherd Home purchased the farms.
Upon purchasing the farms, The Morning Call wrote: “The acquiring of the farms was a happy event at the home. The achievement of Mr. Raker to secure the farms is considered a master stroke and one essential for the larger work of the Home.”
In the following years, the residents of Good Shepherd Home helped hired farmers tend to the farm. They grew various fruits and vegetables, such as apples, beans and peas, and they raised cattle and pigs.
Good Shepherd would operate various farms until 1960. Today, the original farms owned by Good Shepherd are part of Queen City Airport and the Allentown Park System, including the property where the Allentown Police Academy is located.

Anonymous said...

Mike, any info on the feds at city hall? I heard they escorted ed into the courthouse

michael molovinsky said...

@7:49, that's tonight's headline on both the morning call and wfmz. however, it is NOT my type of story; you'll have to ask and read about it elsewhere.