Apr 21, 2008

Pawlowski Decrees Destiny


In 1934 Perry Minich and his bride opened a jewelry store on the side of the elegant Americus Hotel. The post depression years weren't that easy for a merchant in luxury goods, but they had faith in Allentown. They were rewarded by Allentown's boom years during the 50's . In 1981 a robber entered the store, pushed Mrs. Minich to the floor, then shot and killed her. The Minich family carried on with their Allentown business. Their nephew, who witnessed the tragedy, took over the store. One by one, in Scranton, Easton, and Wilkes-Barre, hotels of the Americus vintage, closed and were boarded up. The Americus, a white elephant, although a dollar short and a day late, stayed open. Enter new Mayor Ed Pawlowski, self-designated real estate expert. He decided because the hotel owner was controversial, and had been demonized in regard to other properties, he could execute a forced sale. He erected a scaffold around the building, declared it unsafe, and ordered the existing merchants to vacate. For those really familiar with the situation the irony abounds. One week after the scaffold was erected, a window fell out the Schoen building, controlled by the city, narrowly missing several pedestrians. Although transient tenants will be offered relocation money to de-convert apartments in Old Allentown, three merchants of the Americus got nothing. While almost seven million dollars in grant money was offered outside developers to purchase the hotel, the city confiscated insurance proceeds from the existing owner. Pawlowski ended what had endured over seventy years through good and bad times, through tragedy, and it will cost the taxpayers many millions to ever put this humpty dumpty back together again.

4 comments:

Sarina said...

It is disturbing that these shops were forced to close in such a way. I recall the city wanted to shut off the power since the building is a fire hazard but it turned out they can't tell PPL what to do. So those little shops downstairs were evicted unjustly. I'm shocked no one filed suit.

michael molovinsky said...

sarina, i do not believe the building is a fire hazard, and i do not believe anything is falling off of it. i recall when the city claimed the Hess Brother store had many code violations to justify it's demolition. If a buyer comes along that pawlowski wants, that building will be deemed much safer. public safety should never be compromised, but on the other hand, code interpretations should not be used as a weapon.

Mrs. Dottie said...

I think that sign says it all. What a tragic story. I loved Minich's, it was like going back in time. I hope we don't lose the Americus.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Michael does have a great gift when it comes to photography.