Jan 2, 2017
The Reality Of Revitalization In Allentown
The Morning Call reported that the proprietor of Sage is closing his two stores on the ArtsWalk to concentrate on internet sales. Although it's true that online sales have deeply affected brick and mortar retail, that is not a new revelation. What is not discussed in the article is the reality of downtown's demographic; It's the same poor crowd walking among the new buildings. Just as Shula's couldn't serve enough $50 steaks in that environment, nor can Sage sell $75 designer jeans. Although J.B. Reilly induced his upscale merchants with discount rents, he can't upgrade the shoppers; He can't put money in the their pockets.
Reilly is hoping that his Strata Loft buildings eventually house enough millennials to support upscale commerce. However, until and unless that happens, both the stores and restaurants will have to adapt to market realities to survive. The new Rite-Aid is doing well, as it did on Hamilton Street, before the revitalization. Just as Shula's was replaced with a lower price point eatery, we will see Sage replaced with a downgrade.
I don't have faith that Reilly's millennial migration will succeed. I don't have faith that Allentown is a candidate for gentrification. I think that all too soon he will be renting to the same demographic that lived there before his new buildings. At that point, the Morning Call will be promoting that reality as diversity. Now don't feel bad for Reilly, either way, he has a new real estate portfolio, paid for by the taxpayers.