Jul 28, 2015

A Field Trip To Allentown's 7th & Hamilton

On Saturday evening, during prime dinner time, I surveyed the four trendy rent subsidized restaurants at center square. While the outside area at Hamilton Kitchen was fairly full with drinkers and snackers, the inside tables were virtually empty. Shula's was near empty. The Dime was about one third full, and Roar was also virtually empty. The Renaissance Hotel showed no signs of life in the lobby, suggesting few to no guests. An interesting comment was recently submitted to an older post.
The LVH building(at the arena) is a joke. As an employee, I wasn't allowed to park in that lovely enclosed parking lot underneath the actual building while going through EPIC training-- I had to park BLOCKS away-- It seems that all of the peons of LVH have to park quite a distance away as well from what I could see. While attempting to try to park in that "special" lot under the building, I had some nasty parking lot gestapo make me turn around since I didn't have the correct magical permit affixed to my rear view mirror. Undoubtably that lot is somehow restricted to "special people" . Honestly, they would have to hire a fleet of security officers to escort each and every one of us. I just walked quickly with my keys sticking out between my knuckles. When I work at the Bethlehem site, I wind up parking at the dead mall next door and spend fifteen minutes just walking to the desk where I work, so it made no difference to me. Taking a peak at the restaurants near the entrance, I find it hard to imagine most employees having lunches long enough to dine there, let alone being able to afford to eat there. Granted, I could afford a soft pretzel... As far as the gyn is concerned, I would rather pull out my hair one by one than deal with the traffic to go there in the morning before or after work. I highly doubt any potential patient would want to deal with driving there for a doctor's appointment, unless they live a very short distance away and are very familiar with the area. After driving through the decrepit outlying area filled with blighted/condemned houses and finally parking, the first thought that came to mind as I saw the newly developed area was, "I smell a rat".
It's apparent to me that virtually free rent may not be enough to keep these restaurants afloat. Reilly might have to consider actually paying them to stay open.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was an opportunity to get involved in controlling a huge amount of taxpayer money. Keeping some, doling out the rest. Sure, downtown would look better. It didn't really matter for how long. A dysfunctional city got a paint job. That's all.

Fred Windish

michael molovinsky said...

fred@6:01, in my opinion, it is a supreme real estate deal, set up by reilly, through pat browne. it seems that the arena was a pretext, with minimal shows scheduled. as a RE developer, reilly is a genius.

Anonymous said...

The reason everything is gang busters is because the only ones that make money are the ones that get in first, build it, then sell it. Add on top that the NIZ is only around so long as Pat Browne is around and Harrisburg is content/ignorant enough not to mess around with it.

In a few years, Pennrose will own the apartments and various investors will own the buildings with management companies doing the day to do day work.



Anonymous said...

A half empty island in a sea of decline and despair.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:20, i disagree. this is an unprecedented real estate windfall; up to 100% of the debt service can be met with employee income tax and sales tax generated within the approved buildings, for 30 years. for this reason every developer of note is trying to get a foothold within the split district, even building now on spec. as a ratified state law, it is not dependent on pat browne. reilly would have no reason to sell, these are the blue chip prizes.

Anonymous said...

I think Reilly ends up selling about 7-10 years out. He's made alot of money developing the properties (his RE development fees were paid by NIZ financing), and he's making money during the rental phase. He'll bail before significant capital expenditures need to be made to maintain the properties and cash out.

My guess anyway.

The Banker

monkey momma said...

For the rest of the summer, the PPL arena has exactly one event booked. One. (This after a VERY thin schedule at the arena.)

From September until the end of the year, there are exactly 11 days booked at the arena.

I'm so glad those meters are keeping away those hoards of arena attendees, day in and day out until 10 PM for THAT! No wonder an entertainment tax wasn't floated as an idea for paying police for their overtime - there IS NO entertainment downtown.

Eating a $50+ entree meal is fun for this suburban mom once in a while, but, truth be told, I'd rather have some quinoa balls and beer at brew works than get gussied up for a night at the Dime. Hubby treats me to meals out quite a bit, but we would rather eat where the restaurant exists because of market demand, not political maneuverings. Organic growth of blighted urban areas comes from passionate businesses, not politician's maps.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too sure what the EPIC training parking rules have to with the restaurants downtown. There are good reasons why the hundreds of employees who are coming to training aren't supposed to park in the arena deck. I find it amusing how afraid people are to visit downtown. I also do not think that the restaurants like roar and Hamilton were counting on the LVHN employees to keep them busy at the lunch hour. As for the gym, it's great for those who work in the arena but it is out of the way for most.

michael molovinsky said...

@4:05, the comment transcribed in this post was submitted recently to the post of july 10. i find a disneyland element to the renaissance. there is a divergence between what is portrayed, and the reality or facts on the ground. i felt as if that comment expressed the same impression. it's one thing for the pricy places to be slow during lunch, it's another on saturday evening. as for lvh, i have heard dismaying comments about the emergency room on cedar crest blvd. i would have preferred the hospital to address those issues, before patronizing reilly by being a tenant above the arena. what a transparent example of cronyism. the hospital should be above that.

Anonymous said...

The LVHN's employee comment is a bit exaggerated.
1. EPIC parking is located in ATC deck located on the 600 block of Linden Street (I park there every day).
2. Walking from that garage to LVHN entrance at 7th and Linden is less than a block and around a minute. He/She stated that it "was blocks away". I've walked blocks on surface lot at LVHN I-78 campus.
3. Security guards are positioned at Wells Fargo drive through which has a line sight of garage and 7th/Linden if the employee has a perception of danger.
Will be interesting to see how restaurants do in the Fall, summer is slow for everyone including suburbs, consumers are grilling or are on vacation. Not making excuses, like I said will be interesting to see how they are performing September through holidays.

Downtowns aren't for everyone, if the parking lot attendant was a jerk hopefully they catch on and he is let go.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:37, quite an apologist. the restaurants are new, and should have the crowds for that reason. let me simply ask why is the hospital office there?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky
Do you mean you visited downtown last Sat. night and the restaurants were almost empty?

Anonymous said...

I encountered two of the security guards a few days ago doing my first trip to the Dime.
One was a surly young man, slouched in this folding chair, who couldn't tell me where the dime was although he was 50 feet away.
The other was a charming young woman, when I asked her what she thought she motioned across the street and said," it's the third world right over there."

Anonymous said...

Can it be confirmed that many of these new restaurants are actually 'owned' by Reily, who then hires managers to run them? I am pretty sure that's the case with the Starbucks. I have a hard time believing that the former Shanty owners came out of several years of retirement to start that new downtown endeavor.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:12, yes, as i wrote. questions which require a reply will not normally be published. this is a moderated blog, usually only printing the comments which add something to the dialogue. comments submitted in the evening will usually not appear until early the following morning, however, your readership is appreciated.

@8:38, yes, reilly owns the starbucks franchise. also, i believe that the former shanty owner is just lending his name and reputation, not his time or money.

Anonymous said...

In reply to the fellow employee-- when I was going to Epic training, the closest lot was often "full" due to either training and/or construction of some type, therefor many of us had to park "blocks" away. We were not allowed to park directly next to/ underneath the building itself, and the Linden Street garage was the one in which I was turned away. I'm assuming the person who replied to my post is in IT or is some kind of administrator or physician, since he/she claims to be able to park there every day.
If I was able to manage a close parking spot, the closest was at the "800 block spiral deck"- and it was quite an empty hike down those multiple parking deck levels, down the empty stairwell and to the ground floor... the elevator was not working at the time...This was during the snowy season, as well, with sidewalks covered in ice. The only upside was that we were given parking pass tickets so we did not have to pay for parking. Keep in mind there are (or were) a dozen other facilities set up by LVH for employee training such as The Mack Building, the building on Downeyflake Lane... When finally reaching the correct floor/building for training, there were signs everywhere encouraging us to "walk in a groups" back to the parking decks, especially since some of the training ended at 9 or 10 at night (in the dead of winter).
As an employee who only needs to go there occasionally, I'm fairly certain the average patient would feel equally as intimidated if they were required to park in that area, let alone find the correct building to enter! My first sojourn to the area led me walking around in circles, since the signage is not helpful in the slightest. I eventually used GPS on my phone to find the actual building itself. My 70 year old mother would never agree to an appointment there on her worst day. She grew up in the Bronx, so she has no irrational fear of cities. However, the hospital is only going to lose patients like her (who pay all their medical bills) just to save money on rent.