Jan 22, 2010
In the late 50's there was a song and dance called the bunnyhop. You essentially took one step backwards, and two forward, slow progress for sure.
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. In early 2008 He erected a scaffold around the building, declared it unsafe, and ordered the existing merchants to vacate because he was going to have the electricity shut off.
For those really familiar with the situation, the irony abounds. One week after the scaffold was erected at the Americus, a window fell out the Schoen building, which is across and up the street. Owned by the city for many years, the falling window narrowly missed several pedestrians. The three merchants of the Americus received no compensation. Besides Minich, Kerrigan's Shoe Repair had operated for many years. Pawlowski ended what had endured over seventy years, through good and bad times, including tragedy.
The electricity never was cut off. Minich, Kerrigan and a clothing store were put out of business for nothing, but now it's going to cost us. This past Wednesday, City Council approved submitting a grant application to Harrisburg for $1.5 million to help the new hotel owner remodel and rent the storefronts. Total grants required for the Americus Project are estimated to run from $10 to $25million dollars. We will never again attract a merchant of Minich's caliber, or a craftsman like Kerrigan. Its seems with Pawlowski's bunnyhop, it cost many $millions for every step forward.
Portions of this post reprinted from April 21,2008
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