Jan 22, 2010

Pawlowski's Bunnyhop


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
Related Posts: A Boutique Hotel and Clueless In Allentown

18 comments:

Bill said...

A that is pretty much just the facts.

I also understand that the City estimates are on the low side.

Sort of like when a contractor comes into your house, knocks your kitchen wall out and tells you that he will need more money to complete the work.

LVCI said...

Every time the mayor sells a building "to make the city money" it costs taxpayers million$. Frankly at this rate I don't think we can afford to make any more money!

Business is about making money NOT spending money. Only politicians can mucky this kind of basic business philosophy up.

Here we have brand new people on council. Sounds like the same old one. Then at their very 1st meeting 7 to 0 were 100% on board with this same old nonsense.

If the city had posted the minutes online I might have deeper insight as to WHAT WHERE THEY THINKING???

Who cares whether it's federal, state or local funding... why for the umpteenth time are we using taxpayers' money for private development?

If he who bought the Americus couldn't finance the renovations why the hell did he buy it?

I can think of only two reasons.. either he dumb as dirt and shouldn't be in the hotel business.
OR
He was provided information ahead of time that the city would tap into the taxpayers and fix it up for him on the public's dime.

I mean really!! Common sense here

Would I buy a house 10x's what I could afford to fix up?

This is old and tired. As much as they say the oldsters won't let go of Allentown's historical buildings I say time to put down this turkey. The hotel up at 15th is troubled and the one at 9th & Hamilton fares little better.

Someone on TOPIX in the paper compared it to Hotel Bethlehem, Well if the Americus where to be 100 feet from Chris Kringle mart, Celtic Fest and Musicfest which draws millions duh!

Instead the Americus's only attractions are Symphony Hall and the soon to be Leigh Valley Newspaper Museum Tours at 6th & Linden.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there also a new restaurant on the Hamilton Street side just a few years ago that was forced to close after exhausting struggles with city demands?

Anonymous said...

We sadly remember when Mrs. Minnich was killed. What made this jewelry store so special is many of the items were reasonably priced and one could pay on installment. Hundreds upon hundreds of small gift items to please every taste and a huge old-fashioned safe in the back and beautiful ladies hankies too.

Might you know what is happening with that fancy restaurant to be built nearby on 7th Street.

Anonymous said...

Having been in the Americus on business a year or so before it was ordered closed, there were broken beer bottles even on the first floor! The rest rooms were disgusting. The first floor walls in disrepair. It was filthy.

Anonymous said...

What's happening with Sal's Spaghetti House? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Just think of what it costs to
hire contractors to redo one kitchen or one bath in our homes,
Then, multiply that amount $25,000 & up by how many rooms in the Americus Hotel. Then add
new electrical wiring, plumbing,
stucco, drywall, new doors, some new windows, on and on. That's about how much it will cost to redo the hotel.

Anonymous said...

It is outrageous that Allentown does not post council minutes nor actually have live TV coverage. So many little boroughs and townships already do, why not
Allentown? Why doesn't some candidate challenge council about this!

LVCI said...

Anonymous 8:24 AM said, "Just think of what it costs to..."
Then after all that, you have to turn over of 10's of million$ of dollars to have this site make a "return on investment."

Good Luck with that!

ironpigpen said...

I remember the Minnich robbery.

I was 12 - that was sad.

Anonymous said...

A song and dance.

The extent of arrows in Pawlowski's quiver?

John said...

What one fails to see already is the City's disdain for the new owner. Althought they are applying for the $1.5 million grant (which doesn't mean they are getting it), one can already see the problems with City Hall and the new owner coming.

I was the former caretaker of the Neuweiler Brewery on Front St for the almost last five years. I saw this exact song and dance from them there and now THEY (the City) own the building.

Also, the furniture plant on Front St was aided in moving to the old Pilsbury plant with aid from City Hall. No sooner was the deal inked, did they start coming after the owners for their buildings.

Our City Hall cannot be trusted for anything they do for the knife is right there ready to be thrust in your back and twisted. It doesn't matter how much they seem like nice people or how much you feel you can trust them they are almost all snakes in the grass.

If anyone would like to argue this point with me, be my guest.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

How many new rental units will result from this project?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

This thing has "train-wreck" written all over it. There are so many ways this can go wrong, but all the indicators are there: property owner who doesn't appear totally invested, unknown costs, unknown end uses, no-defined tenants.

I am probably more patient than most on these matters, but I am extremely skeptical. If there is a plus side it is that the state funds are extremely limited making the likelihood of funding linked the viability of the project. Still, not confident.

Geoff

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, do I smell another Mendelson in the works?

Anonymous said...

Better late to the party than to miss an opportunity to express dislike for Ed "the smurf" Pawlowski. Nearly a decade ago, Pawlowski was told that the only thing that made economic sense with regard to the Harold's Furniture building was to tear it down. Too small (25,000 sf) and too expensive to repair (in order to meet the unnecessary requirements of Bill "the giblets" Gibisser). He was told that the only other alternative was to throw millions of dollars of public money at the project. The Smurf didn't care then and he won't care now. He'll end up giving someone $20 million to fix up the Americus and Allentown will end up with a future failure. Then, keep your eye on where The Smurf ends up after leaving Allentown - he'll land at one of the firms he help to millions in taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

With regard to liberating properties from their rightful owners, the exploits of Mayor Smurf and his then henchman Mike "little seizer" Rosenfeld are well documented here: http://f-allentown.blogspot.com/2008/05/mayor-posts-on-tmcs-forum.html

It's been going on since Power Point Pawlowski took office.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 12:53 and 1:03, although i find your comments quite harsh, and your blog appears inactive now, you did certainly express yourself about allentown