Jan 19, 2010
The other week, when I was writing about the success of 7th Street, I said that Walmart and Brooks Brothers were not looking for the same market segment. All successful shopping centers know their target market. 7th Street has evolved into a successful low income Hispanic business district. The Promenade Shops in Saucon Valley is a successful high end purveyor.
Unfortunately, for Allentown's traditional Hamilton Street, its market has been manipulated away. The market share there was the bus transferees in the 700 Block. Twenty merchants, with well stocked stores, provided a shopping venue for the twenty or thirty minutes between buses. The Administration, The Parking Authority and Lanta, to harvest a grant for a parking deck, killed that goose.
In the 900 block, a few remnants of Allentown's better days hung on. Last year Freeman Jewelry finally closed. Although unsaid, they had more chance of being robbed than selling something. Tucker Yarn, an institution profiled on this blog, continues on, despite being constantly agitated by city policy and a Parking Authority that preys on his customers. A successful fitness center, also on that block, was forced out of business by the Parking Authority's hunger. About ten years ago, a very attractive eye care center also opened on this block. First a tenant, now the building owner, this couple gambled their time, energy and resources on Hamilton Street. Their current frustrations can be read on Bernie O'Hare's Ramblings.
Since the bus people were not high end enough for this Administration, and millions of public dollars have gone into a couple of restaurants designed to attract deeper pockets, this Mayor better resolve to provide the proper police protection. This past Wednesday evening, the City claimed that the police department supports the expanded Trailnet Plan in and between the parks. Is this the same police department that fails to instill confidence in the merchants? I don't think those spandex bike suits have a pocket for a wallet. We need a Hamilton Street where fat, middle age people with wallets, can park automobiles and shop, safe from the Parking Authority and predators.