Jan 11, 2016

Little Apple Peaks


I believe that the Little Apple, Allentown's Revitalization, has peaked. Shula's closure signaled that we're over the peak, on the downslope. I'm sure that the owner gave J.B. Reilly ample notice to keep him open, if J.B. was inclined to pony up with another round of gift cards. I don't know if it's true, but I was told that they even tried to get the street singer back to do Barbara Ann. If J.B. himself wasn't the operator, likewise the hotel and Dime would have closed already. Now, don't cry for J.B.. The core money stream, the office workers income tax, will keep the show in production.

I always enjoy it when the Morning Call takes one of my 250 word themes and turn it into a feature story, complete with graphs and charts. Such was the case Sunday, when they conceded that gentrification never got past the Strata Flats. They still sell the company line that those apartments are full, despite no people or lights at night.  If those empty units are indeed leased to corporations, is it an arrangement which allows a large portion of the residential building to also utilize the NIZ funding mechanism?  With the NIZ being self regulated, nobody oversees the public interest.  It's not like Pennsylvania has any revenue shortfalls to worry about.

photo:The Morning Call

10 comments:

Reality Bites said...

As long as the river of money flows into J B's pockets, expect more buildings to be built.

michael molovinsky said...

@5:53, you're absolutely right, he will build more buildings and induce more office workers, because of his NIZ benefactor, the taxpayers of pennsylvania. consequently, there will eventually be more commerce in allentown, with a bigger lunch crowd than before. however, the morning call promotion that downtown it is a rocket ship of success, has lost its credibility.

Anonymous said...

A thought occurred. The Strata parking spaces really ARE mostly leased and full. They just come with a FREE empty apartment!

Fred Windish

Concerned Allentonian said...

@6:11 The downtown worker and lunchtime crowd does not equal a vibrant retail or entertainment district downtown. What you are describing is a flood of workers into the city beginning at 8:00am, and by 6:00pm the streets are empty, Monday through Friday.

Nights and weekends, the city is a ghost town, except for its indigenous residents, the ones the proponents of gentrification want to get rid of though affordability.

Why does this remind me of an early 1970s science fiction movie, like "Soylent Green", of the city of the "future" ?

doug_b said...

Allentown is trying to something it's not.

I remember, my grandmother lived near 5th and Liberty. Visited there many times. The home was small, two bedrooms, one bath, very narrow alley, no garages. There will be no gentrification in Allentown because houses like that are not worth the investment. Nor will they appreciate at the same rate as those in the suburbs.

I have seen the gentrification in Baltimore - those homes were larger - brownstones - looked very very nice when updated. The problem is you can't go two blocks outside without entering the 'combat zone'.

doug_b said...

Today Strathearn plead guilty. Since there will be more white collar criminals in the Allentown corruption investigation, I think you could turn Shula's into a minimum security facility to house these guys. Maybe even charge admission, like the zoo.

Anonymous said...

Hard to figure where they go from here. Agree that this restaurant was a strange choice for downtown Allentown--much better fit in Saucon Valley or even Easton, though perhaps they had trouble paying the rent.

I'd say if you're running this program, maybe it is time to redirect emphasis and focus on supporting unique, innovative, locally-owned restaurants at a more moderate prices--more like Brew Works than Shula's. Sponsor some "restaurant weeks" and other focused events to get people downtown to see what's down there, and maybe that gets places like Roar a bit of a boost. Places that charge $50-$60 a plate aren't going to succeed in Allentown right now.

Looming over all this is the failure of the arena to bring in the number and types of events the Wise Ones assured everyone would be a slam-dunk for a market this size. Of course, the actual number of arenas in the US that bring in 200 events a year is very small and typically in very large markets--but why should the facts get in the way of spending public money?

Anonymous said...

That's a great question Mike, who are the actual lessees and what shenanigans that permits. This thing stinks more and more...

The Banker

michael molovinsky said...

banker@4:10, with their guidelines being written in pencil, and no oversight, it wouldn't surprise me that they declare that space rented by corporations as commercial space. surprising with all the morning call articles promoting the strata flats, not one word has been written about all these corporate tenants.

Anonymous said...

If you lived at 7th and Linden Streets wouldn't you keep your lights off and curtains drawn at night?