Aug 19, 2008

Can You Say Loft?

Allentown has a schizophrenic attitude towards apartments. While we are spending millions of dollars to de-convert a few row house in center city, we are also spending millions to subsidize the creation of loft apartments in formerly commercial buildings. Now, lets define we. We may be direct grants from the city; city directed HUD grants, grants through the Redevelopment Authority or the Economic Development Corporation, or State Grants secured by the Administration. It's all we, it's all our tax money, and it's all being promoted by Ed Pawlowski. When Mr. Ed was Community Development Director under Afflerbach he promoted the Farr Loft project. As a mayoral candidate he repeatedly claimed it was private money and proof positive yuppies were clamoring for Hamilton Street life. A few months after Mayor Ed's coronation, the Farr Loft partnership received half a million from the state.* Upfront money, backdoor money, it's all our taxes. Back to this apartment problem, the defenders refer to gentrification. A mom with three children, burdening the school system, is being replaced by a single beamer with disposable income. Here's the rub, we are legitimizing these additional apartments with a hope and prayer for a certain demographic. Time will tell who we get, and how long he will stay. Will the second or third tenant be that mom again with her three children?

* Allentown's Farr building brings home $500,000 in aid ** Help from state tagged for downtown apartment project.
Scott Kraus Of The Morning Call; Morning Call; Jun 19, 2006; pg. B.3;


consigliere said...

the question i still cannot seem to resolve is whether all the give-aways, all the abatements, etc. will ever be enough to offset for the lack of a safe environment?

it would seem the only chance of economic development strategies working at all is if crime recedes drastically . . . in which case we probably wouldn't need all the economic development efforts. the free market would kick in.

Bernie O'Hare said...


Anonymous said...

I saw that ONE apartment. It was decorated in a manner that a friend described as, "if your mom liked modern" but besides that apartment- were others ever finsihed?

And where were people expected to put their cars overnight?

No, sorry- X'ers and Y'ers arent interested in downtown. There aren't any services, restaurants, not even a drug store to buy a newspaper at.

Anonymous said...

Are you referring to mothers with 3 children as a burden? Just curious. Are they a burden only if they are single or is it ok if husband is still around?

michael molovinsky said...

interesting question, which you can ask me, and i will answer. generally speaking, if the mother is single and lives in an apartment with 3 children, she is probably a burden. if she is married, and the five of them live in a house, even rented, they're probably responsible. those responsible for these new haphazard housing initiatives don't use words like burden, or even gentrification, but they spend millions, yet the housing stock and general situation doesn't improve. their one hand doesn't know what their other hand is doing.

Anonymous said...


Do you wake up on the wrong side of the bed EVERY day. As one who cares about you, can I recommend getting a round bed, laying off the sauce, or getting treated for depression? Seems like being in your head is being behind enemy lines...every day. Seriously, they have medication that could help you.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:23, perhaps i am crazy, it seems not too many people care that allentown keeps declining despite all the grants and press conferences. thanks for your advise, but if i decide i need help, i'll seek it professionally, from someone who uses their real name. i will delete further comments from you.

Anonymous said...

"it seems not too many people care that allentown keeps declining"

I think statement is open for serious debate. There is much evidence to demonstrate otherwise.

Anonymous said...

The Farr building is subsidized. So that means the city's new economic development director is gonna live in subsidized housing? Ohhh the desperation!

Squirrel said...


The wrong demographic. Wake-up! Hello! Hello!

Yuppies? Do any still exist?

Suggested reading: "Magical Urbanism - Latinos Reinvent the U.S. City" by Mike Davis

Languages of tomorrow - Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

It is a new world.


Anonymous said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it seems like all of the new "economic development" is not having ANY immediate effect on the A-town community. I was just talking to someone today who was interested in a loft apartment. The Farr Loft may be nice but not for the average salary in the neighborhood it resides in. It seems to me that many actually like the hierarchy in place in Allentown. Those who have and those who have not. Leaders say they want improvement and less crime but when money is obtained it goes to building more brand new developments that will sit empty as many already do. The leaders are so pumped about bringing people from the outside in, they think that we who live in the inner city will either straighten up and fly right or disappear like magic. Believe me, even people with low incomes and limited education can see where Allentown seems to be headed. I still believe it can be salvaged but we need to focus on the ACTUAL people; and I am not talking about welfare, block parties, and non-profits organizations with limited funds; but actually having popular city leaders going INTO the communities on a weekly basis and knocking on doors and seeing what residents needs are and what it will take to stop the destruction. People feel slighted, disenfranchised, and forgotten. If we don't do something soon, Allentown will have a lot of great brand new developments but very few people willing to come out and inhabit them.


Squirrel said...

So this is what the best of our planning gave us - Pleasentville ? It used to be this - Hanover Acres.

I admit I do not know much about it but my general impression is that it seems smaller in it's capacity to house residents?

It is also a rather strange place, somewhat surrealistic. Impeccably clean and incredibly quiet. Kind of like a twilight zone set.

So this is what public housing has become? Should we expect more of this in Allentown in future developments?

Why not help those who live in Allentown fix up their apartments / homes and assist them in investing in their community.

De-conversion sounds great. However given the current culture and urban trend in Allentown we will end up with the 20 people living in three apartments living all together in one house after the project is completed.

Again we need to pay attention to the demographics and acknowledge what is and not what we wish it would be.

It is all changing anyway. and it is time we start to realize this.


Bill Weber said...

Excuse me while I dance a little jig of despair.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Consigliere that if the city drastically reduces crime then more regular folk and families will return to the cities and the free market will kick in - meaning new small businesses and rising property values.

I think safety needs to be a major focus. I've seen some of the cops on foot patrol and I hope to see more. Hopefully this will be a start.

However, I don't really know how to address poverty in Allentown. It seems people keep getting pushed out of the big cities (NY, Philly, etc.) as they become more expensive and then flee to the less expensive cities. I don't know what will happen in the future as everything becomes less affordable.

Anonymous said...

The last thing Allentown needs to do is "address poverty".

We do this to much already and all it does is attract more poor people here.

Like it or not we need to let the newly arrived poor be poor. If people see simply moving here will virtually ensure an unearned step up in live we will be flooded with poverty in now time.

Squirrel said...

"Regular Folk" - Who are regular folk? Please define?

"Not address poverty?" - Who do you think pays for poverty? Who do you think is impacted by poverty?