Jan 28, 2009
Clueless In Allentown
The other day in letter to the editor, a self-confessed "ardent booster" of downtown Allentown, was "astonished" that Freeman's would close its Hamilton Street location in the middle of all the "positive activity." Ignoring the reality that the store had more chance of being robbed than selling anything, the cheerleader cited a planned charter school moving into a vacant office building. Will their students buy high end jewelry? The "renaissance" includes The Cosmopolitan restaurant on 6th Street. Not often has a building foundation been so elegantly named and subsidized. Included on his list of proposed construction is Nic Zawarski's project at the former Schoen Furniture site on Hamilton Street. I hope Nic first finishes the townhouses he suspended on 8th Street. Lastly, this believer cited the pending sale of the Americus Hotel, the real reason for this posting. From time to time, it has been necessary for me to say things to which almost everybody flinches. Unfortunately, for all of us, I have been usually correct. (all the time, but that sounds too arrogant) My fear is that down the road, the Americus operated by Mendleson. may turn out being less problematic for Allentown than under new ownership. Here's why; By every measure the building is an enormous white elephant. Under Satan (nobody has ever been more vilified than Mendleson) two long term established businesses contributed to downtown, Kerrigan Shoe Service and Minnich Jewelers. He keep the building open renting out only about six apartments. He paid the taxes, always two years late at the sheriff sale, but he paid the taxes. Under the new buyer, we will bestow endless grants and KOZ status. There will be no taxes for many years, if ever. We will never regain merchants of the caliber we lost. (Pawlowski chased them out to turn off the electricity, which has stayed on anyway). All this is the good news, here's the bad; the building will be turned into 100 low income apartments, ensuring there will never again be a clientele on Hamilton Street which could afford jewelry at a store like Freeman's. Mr. letter to the editor, perhaps the owner of Freeman's reached a different conclusion about these projects leading to a "renaissance."
UPDATE: I do not mean to imply the building will be designated low income, rather this is the demographic which the finished project will attract. 100 units is a guesstimate, assuming the first several floors will be commercial
UPDATE 2: According to The Morning Call, Mendleson has concocted another buyer to negate Allentown's petition to the bankruptcy judge. Pawlowski's buyer is a local apartment operator, who would have paid $750,000 to the city through the sheriff tax sale procedure.