Oct 7, 2015

Allentown As A Bustling Downtown

Just as people who visit Disneyland know that they're not really in the west or the future, visitors to downtown Allentown know that it's really not bustling. Bustling was a gift word bestowed on J.B. Reilly's City Center Public Tax Funded Empire, by The Morning Call. The Morning Call itself is struggling. Yesterday, their mother ship The Tribune Corporation, offered a buyout plan to it's senior workers. Unfortunately, most of the people at the paper are just a little too young to retire, and too old to land somewhere else. Most will pass on the offer, hoping to keep their seat when the musical chairs start playing again. In the meantime, we readers will be treated to words like bustling, even as reality starts to set in, before the paint is  dry on the new restaurant walls. While Grain opens this week, the pickings are slow at Roar. Too many restaurants already for the thin event schedule, and quick lunch times available for the imported office workers. J.B. will have to again prime the pump with another round of gift cards for the esteemed office workers. The Morning Call will have to review another restaurant, and coin yet another word describing excitement at Allentown's Disneyland.

15 comments:

Dreaming of Justice said...

The Morning Call has not *coined* the word bustle. That would mean the MC actually created the word itself, when the word bustle has been in use since about 1570.
(http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bustle)

No- the Morning Call has plenty to do on it's own, making up Downtown-Shabby. Downtown-Shabby is like a much less popular modern version of BBC's Downton Abbey, with the trials (cough) and shady-doings (cough, cough) of various blue bloods and their kin. Riveting television if you like BBC, much less engrossing if you are slogging through the much poorer soap opera in print. The cast on the small screen is also able to shrug off their roles and their contorted story-lines and return to their orderly lives after a day's shoot. Downtown-Shabby's many characters wear their roles 24 hours daily, and we are all subject to NIZ sordid story-lines nearly on a daily basis.

Reality Bites said...

Turning the clock back to 1965 is not the case downtown, when Allentown had a useful central business district that drew commerce and people into an environment that provided goods and services to the people who lived in the area.. The NIZ is a classic case of the City of Allentown having a problem and government throwing money at it to fix it.

Now we have new buildings replacing the old and it's more like a museum than a metropolis there. What Big Ed and J.B. Reilly wanted to build was a Manhattan in Allentown. Although to be fair, Allentown isn't the first city to throw money at a problem and build an arena or community center in blighted areas.

Someone forgot to tell Big Ed them it was private business and private developers that built Manhattan, not the Mayor of New York.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:19, mayor pawlowski, or big ed as you call him, had nothing to do with the NIZ and arena, it just occurred on his watch. bigger boys allowed him to cut a few ribbons, and because he knew that he was really just incidental to the development, he tried to ride the associated glory out of dodge; first to harrisburg, and then washington.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand the Welfare Office is moving to the East Side if it hasn't already. That should cut down even more on the "bustle" one block north.

Anonymous said...

It would appear the Mayor's ticket out may be arriving sometime soon.

Anonymous said...

Those restaurants will have an even bigger challenge when Talon moves to the waterfront, as suggested by the Call this morning, taking 500 employees out of the lunch crowd. Without any tax-incentive rents available, the PPL Plaza building will probably sit empty for years, A son-of-NIZ will need to be created so it and can be torn down and replaced by another Reily building.

doug_b said...

Don't forget to add vibrant, electrifying, lively.

Anonymous said...

http://www.mcall.com/entertainment/lehigh-valley-music/mc-does-allentowns-ppl-center-have-an-illness-jinx-shania-twain-cancels-shows-after-playing-there-20151007-column.html

Anonymous said...

It's up to us Allentonians to make something happen very quickly, for it seems we are on our own....

- Alfonso Todd

Anonymous said...

I predict some of the upscale restaurants will shift to mid-priced restaurants. They can't all survive.

Anonymous said...

Allentown, PA needs a gimmick or a "draw". Something that will bring the masses to the new infrastructure we have in Center City. At this point, due to the lack of teeming crowds, I would think we need to emulate ArtsQuest (in Bethlehem, PA) and develop annual events that would attract viable visitors.... We could work on becoming the "Cosplay Capital of the World!" And while you smirk and laugh, 3-4 years ago when I ran for City Council, my platform was based on tourism, now lo and behold.....

- Alfonso Todd III

Anonymous said...

Alfonso,

For MANY years, Allentown has had one of the biggest conventions here on an annual basis. I am speaking of Drum Corps International, and other marching music organizations. I am closely familiar with all of that.

An enormous amount of out-of-town visitors converge here from all around the world to enjoy these events. Less than 20% of those audiences are from within a 100 mile radius. Massive NEW dollars dropped here every year since the mid-seventies. All together, amounting to roughly 125-150 million dollars. These events have brought parades, concerts, and special events downtown, and have filled every available hotel room. The history is easy to find.

The support from the Allentown community could have been far better, particularly under Pawlowski. There have been NO comparable conventions ever held in the city in terms of generating NEW dollars. I challenge anyone to prove otherwise, and will support this claim if called upon.

Sometimes, a community doesn't know what it has . . . . . and then it's gone.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Mann and Browne are to thank (or not thank) for the NIZ. JB, too. And while we all want the downtown to succeed, it's true that a year into the arena, expectations have not been met. A thin schedule at PPL is a big part of the issue. It's interesting to me that downtown isn't bustling enough for a real Starbucks to be drawn in with the even the prospect of free rent (the NIZbucks is licensed and their workers don't get Starbucks' progressive slate of benefits). Three City Center has no storefronts besides Nosh, which was probably a sweetheart deal given that Nosh, formerly Nana's, was moved from a Reilly-owned building and is probably not paying much, if anything, in the way of rent. Who owns the liquor licenses for The Hamilton and/or Roar? How much are either of those joints really paying in rent? Like the faux brick of too many new buildings, this remains, at least for now, a facade revival.

That said, yes...more companies have moved into the City. More workers have moved into the City. These are good things and real things. But I fear that attention will soon turn to the Waterfront and the new things it will bring, allowing JB's failure to really bring in all the retail and residential he is promising to fade from view, even while in plain sight.

Anonymous said...

Fred, does DCI still come to Allentown every year? Doesn't the Musselman Arts Center downtown have something to do with that? It would be great to have the City more involved...imagine the drum and bugle corps marching and playing on the Arts Walk :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's still on for next August. One of the performing units actually moved it's corporate offices to the Musselman building a few years ago. Youth Education in the Arts is a bigger operation than most would imagine. Several YEA groups already do perform downtown a couple times per year, and have presented concerts from Symphony Hall.

There is NO question, Allentown could/should be doing more for marching music events. They faithfully bring many NEW dollars into Allentown, and ask for very little in return.

Fred Windish