Feb 16, 2016

Not Feeling Allentown's Renaissance.


Every couple of years, as a fund raiser, the Allentown Art Museum features a renovated house tour. A headline on Sunday's society page read, SOTA 2016 Show House reflects Allentown renaissance. I understand that the word renaissance should be in play with a $billion dollars of new development, but you know what, I don't feel it. Understand, that I'm downtown every week. I've been in all the new buildings, I even ate at most of the new restaurants, but I still don't feel it. Actually, nobody does, except the headline editor at The Morning Call, and I'm not sure that he feels it either, but perhaps if it's repeated enough? The Morning Call building is for sale, and although it's across the street from the rest of the NIZ, it's included in the beneficial zone. The Morning Call, despite all the articles promoting the NIZ, has never justified why their building was included. Besides the second zone area by the waterfront, the only other outside parcel included was the Sacred Heart Hospital. Considering all the community benefit that institution has provided the poor of center city, its inclusion was well justified. How about some self-reflection by the paper on their inclusion, now that would be a worthwhile column for Bill White.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

1) An observation: I spent the evening downtown on Valentine's Day, it was virtually empty in the so-called Renaisance Zone.
2) An opinion: The Allentown Morning Call is a case study in the failure of American journalism.

michael molovinsky said...

considering that the morning call property was included in the NIZ, although across the street from the rest of the zone, the paper should have created a firewall between itself and NIZ news. on the contrary, it blatantly promotes it.

Anonymous said...

This situation deserves additional national coverage.
This is an outrage.

George Ruth said...

Absolutely. Any respectable new organization would always note when there might be a perceived conflict in what is written or spoken. How often does one hear on Fox News that "Newscorp is the parent company of Fox News" or "The New York Post is a sister company of Fox News". Every story the Morning Call writes about the NIZ should be accompanied by the statement: "The Morning Call building sits in the NIZ." Simple as that.

michael molovinsky said...

george@6:26, if they wanted to be more forthcoming, it could say "the morning call building sits outside of the NIZ, but was included anyway."

Jamie Kelton said...

I just don't feel safe in Allentown. Even though I grew up in the city. I grew up around 14th and Linden. We would walk to Allen, walk to Hamilton Street, and never gave it a second thought. That's not how I feel today when I'm there

Anonymous said...

MM wrote:

"Besides the second zone area by the waterfront, the only other outside parcel included was the Sacred Heart Hospital. Considering all the community benefit that institution has provided the poor of center city, its inclusion was well justified."


Refresh my memory, but isn't one of the ways the NIZ is funded through earned income taxes? And wasn't that initially even going to include earned income taxes from suburbanites working within the NIZ borders?

I would guess that the inclusion of a hospital, even a smaller one, had as much to do with "confiscating" maximum tax revenue as any other consideration.

Anonymous said...

The NIZ to me is like a car dealership waiting for customers. It has a couple busy days sure, but most of the time it's staring out the window hoping for some customers to wander on the lot.

You won't have a renaissance when every dollar of your NIZ was built for some other city that isn't 50% Hispanic and in the thought process of of largely one wealthy man out in the Saucons.

A downtown that doesn't cater to its own residents is an empty downtown. Downtowns have tried and failed to be the downtown for commuters and suburbanites and it's not sustainable.

This NIZ wouldn't succeed anywhere in Pennsylvania because it's execution has been terrible - forcing what essentially is the Promenade Shops into ethnically and income diverse cities. I don't know who thought that was a long term sustainable business plan.

I'm of the opinion that the long term is irrelevant to both Reilly and City Center - all of what's down there will be quietly sold to Pennrose and other companies over the next few years. You only make money by building it, not managing it.

Anonymous said...

We had plans for Valentine's Day that included being out of town. At the last minute we found ourselves in town with no plans. I clicked on the Open Table app which shows you availability at participating restaurants. This was 4 pm on Sunday and I was amazed at all the availability at the NIZ joints. By the looks of the app, these places weren't busy on the busiest night of the year

Anonymous said...

Had a great burger on Saturday night at Bell Hall with my family. Place was packed before the hockey game and thinned out once the puck dropped.

Went back for a wonderful meal at Grain on Sunday night. Again, the restaurant was full--even with our reservations, we had to wait for 15 min at the bar---which was full.

Just wondering where the poster was who was downtown on Valentine's Day and alleging it was empty.

John said...

"The Zone": what a wonderful name for the renaissance area. I hope we can make stick. With welcome signs shoping names of every ANIZDA director at all entrances.

michael molovinsky said...

i'm not hosting any more back and forth comments about how crowded or empty reillyville was sunday night. some of the restaurants will succeed, others will fail. by any objective criterion, renaissance is a way over the top word to describe the two blocks of hamilton street. hopefully, the morning call will at some point get a grip, and start reporting like a newspaper, instead of a public relations firm.

Reality Bites said...

Two blocks in Allentown does not a city make

Anonymous said...

Apparently Bill White has moved into Allentown, perhaps some form of penitence. So now he can write rosy columns from the inside.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Comrade Molovinsky,

Propaganda, um, er, ah, public relations is very important stuff.

Sincerely,

Col. Viktor Tikhonov
Soviet Red Army (ret)

Anonymous said...

Tony Lukes Closed to spend more time with his family.

Anonymous said...

City Center will spin it as they wish and the Morning Call will report it as fact. Businesses operate in the real world. If business is good, they are open. If not, they close and cut their losses.