Sep 15, 2011

Who Needs Shopping

It was my intention to do a couple of posts on the old line Allentown merchants, both of them. I called the first The Gems of Allentown, although it dealt with yarn. I chose that title because the second post was to be on Salomon Jewelers. Salomon and Tucker Yarn were all that was left of Allentown's merchants, from before the Pawlowski era. Yesterday, I received a comment from a reader called The Voice of Reason
I recall that about 35 years ago, bethlehem had a grandious plan to reinvent downtown Bethlehem. The area between Center, Church, Union and the Monocacy Creek was to be razed and rebuilt with a mall, a convention center, a performance center, parking decks, office towers and residential buildings. The model was beautiful and you could hardly recognize the "old" Bethlehem.... Fast forward to 2011 - It took twenty-five years to finally develop the section between Guetter and Main. It took longer to replace the void at the NE corner of Broad and New. An office tower and a failed attempt at a "mall" remain in the other section. Luckily, cool heads prevailed and the rest of the plan was scrapped. Can you imaging a Main Street without the Sun Inn? Imaging a Main Street without any of the Victorian buildings that exist from Broad to Church. These buildings arguably make bethlehem unique ....
I hope against hope that there may be a similar awakening in Allentown; just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should. VOR
Yesterday, an article in The Morning Call reported that Salomon's are leaving Allentown.* He has sold his Hamilton Street building to developer J.B. Reilly and will relocate the business west of the city. Salomon hit no home run on the sale. Reilly recently paid as much for a building, across from the arena block, which has been boarded up near 7th and Linden for years. It's apparent to me that Salomon is less than enthusiastic about Allentown's transformational plans, at least as a merchant. Who needs shopping anyway?
Salomon will remain open during the holidays through June


Anonymous said...

Comparatively I would have thought Solomon's would have gotten more however how much can a person take?

The history of "urban renewal" in Allentown is dismal at best. Will we end up like Atlantic city where glitz and blight are common bed partners?

The city remains mute on details of development. That is because there are none. This is an illusion attached to an irresponsible funding scheme devised by politicians long past their prime.

We will just have to wait and see.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:32, it's apparent to me that the event center is scheduled for the east side of 7th st., thus the informed purchases of long degraded properties. the fact that this information was dispensed in a selective way should raise issues in a more righteous community. furthermore, the fact that certain investors knew that they could use tax revenue from the NIZ toward their investment debt, was also another well kept secret. pat brown said recently that citizens should take it upon themselves to become familiar with the new law. mr. brown and other elected officials should have taken upon themselves to hold public meetings, and forums to dispense this information to the citizens. this whole deal is nothing short of an outrage.

a true American said...

I sense an implied criticism of Mr. Reilly. That is not fair. He is a good businessman. He takes the time to support our mayor and other elected officials. He freely donates his money to help average folks like Pawlowski wage political campaigns. He hires people to do his paperwork and clean his properties. He employes local folks. Simply because he is motivated by making money, and not by doing good or helping the city is irrelevant. Market forces made this country the best in the world. Let these forces work. Greed is good! God bless the USA.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:53, thanks for your comment. this is NOT a criticism of mr. reilly. it is a criticism of pawlowski, pat browne and city council which have fostered a gamble with public dollars, with no public input, that allentown will become a successful entertainment destination, despite competing plans by bethlehem and elsewhere. in the process we lose the shopping district and the most successful shopping block we have. an article in today's paper mentions a main street grant to improve shopping, what another joke at our expense.

Anonymous said...


often capitalized: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition


: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.

Anonymous said...

$225,000. Pocket change. Trump pennies. Arena redevelopment investment loan penalty fee. Nothing really.
Did one civic leader protest this news? Did one local government leader or a single city politician ask why Allentown's South Side Public Library, now shuttered five years, couldn't have used that money to reopen?
Trump change. Pennies on the dollar. Nothing really. Just a bunch of kids and their futures.

Monkey Momma said...

I appreciate VOR's comments, but an awakening is not likely here in Allentown. I feel like it's totally hopeless to complain about this very problematic arena plan. There is nothing I or anyone else can do - the Administration is ramming this down Hamilton's throat regardless.

I wonder why the existing merchants on that block did not have first dibs on getting into the new retail spots around the arena. And is a knock-off Game Stop any better than what was previously there on Hamilton?

I wish Allentown the best, but the mayor and the Administration have lied and hidden facts about this so-called plan. This plan is far too outlandish, especially considering the economic climate of today.

Anonymous said...

Molovinsky---concerned about losing a small and insignificant shopping district when millions of dollars are to be made with this project? Shame on you. I thought you were a true capitalist. I sense you are going over to the progressive liberal side of things.

lady Macbeth said...

The small merchants Molovinsky wants to save only sell to the locals not the folks with real money. These folks pay the taxes. They shop at the strip malls and the LV Mall. Perhaps these small merchants are part of the problem. Let them go under and reduce the magnetic effect of easy shopping for the poor.

michael molovinsky said...

lady macbeth, you need not fret about who will shop. soon there will be not enough shoppers or stores of any demographic, for shopping to continue on hamilton street. it will be a dead zone. the failing entertainment district will require tax hikes by the city, school and county.

michael molovinsky said...

i received the following anonymous comment which had a statement which i would not print, unless signed by an actual name

If Reilly was legitimate in his dealings, no problem. If he wasn't he can join the rest of them.

It amazes me how so many people so easily sell the "small guy" down the river in Allentown.

Perhaps Pawlowski truly is a classist and has been culling relationships with Latinos and faith based organizations so he could exploit them when he needed to, like now.

Live and learn. I don't think Pawlowski cares at all how this turns out.

MM - agree with all your points. Well said.

Bill said...

Bought a watch at Solomon's this year as I wanted to support local, family business. Sorry to see them go but it makes sense from a business perspective. Stadiums do not do well as far as economic ROI from what I have seen.

LVCI said...

Rather then respond with one great big huge comment, I Posted My Response HERE

Thanks for bringing this up MM

Anonymous said...

In Bethlehem's case, the rest of the plan was quashed by a new mayor. Gordon Mowrer whose main claim to fame was his inability to become a two-term mayor as a democrat in a strong D city, ended things before they started to tear down Main Street. His attention was riveted by an old lady who knew her history and convinced people that the Sun Inn must not be torn down. Does A-Town have political and civic leadership of this type? If the answer is "no", then get ready for a "new" Allentown. New, yes, better?


Bill said...

Grew up in Bethlehem. VOR's perspective of Mower and the Sun Inn are on target.

Anonymous said...

a true American

"Simply because he is motivated by making money, and not by doing good or helping the city is irrelevant. Market forces made this country the best in the world. Let these forces work. Greed is good! God bless the USA."

This attitude is truly sad. I don't think God will bless your USA dude.

Pat Browne - "read the law" - Now ain't that arrogant and elitist. Sounds like he is trying to cull unions and the dems for his nect big run.

Anyone want to join "Republicans against Pat Browne"?


Anonymous said...

It's time for Browne to retire. He's betrayed Allentown residents with this arena project.

michael molovinsky said...

i have rejected a comment taking chumscrubber to task. mr. chum's comments themselves were not all on topic. recently, i have also rejected comments from one source, under different names, always trying to associate this blog with racist or other unflattering attitudes. although i, like all bloggers, appreciate comments as feedback to our effort, i will not operate a chat room. the topic of this post is the transformation of hamilton street from a shopping district to an entertainment district; a gamble at taxpayer expense. most of the stores that will remain, are temporary tenants, who were set up by grants, and subsidized restaurants. as always, i will print almost any comment if signed by a verifiable real name. if by mistake, i have misunderstood, and omitted a legitimate comments, my apology.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:59, i wouldn't go as far as you, but i would like an explanation from browne on several points. it is not my style to do interviews. for instance, although i know rick salomon, i did NOT ask or receive his comment or opinion for this post. (or about this post since i wrote it) he is a gentleman, and needless to say more diplomatic than i am. i will be calling on pat browne.

Anonymous said...

With Solomon's departure another chapter of Allentown history comes to a close.

Remnants of the old Allentown continue to fade into memories of the past.

My comments on "a true American said" expose the attitude that seems to underscore the basis of the new Allentown's birth.

A city that's development is guided primarily by the profit motive and greed. Much of which is controlled by a small group of individuals.

And some find this such a noble cause they call upon the blessings of God?

This is a sad testimony to our founding fathers and the whole concept of democracy.


Anonymous said...

"With Solomon's departure another chapter of Allentown history comes to a close. Remnants of the old Allentown continue to fade into memories of the past."

Not to beat a dead horse, but very little of Bethlehem 1965 survives. Both Dennis Drug Stores- gone. Orr's-gone. Woolworth, Milgreen, Sears, Bimby's, Bill Bogar, Eastern Light, Nile Theater, and three food stores....all long gone. What successful downtowns do is they identify where their strengths lie and they build on them. In Bethlehem it was a small, compact area, surrounded by historic buildings and solid mid-class residential neighborhoods. They decided to emphasize and trade on that uniqueness. Bethlehem had zero chance to be "like the malls", or even like it used to be. The result, in my opinion was brilliant. The downtown has built its own niche. It bustles with commerce because it offers things the malls do not offer. Want proof Bethlehem is a successful leader? Go to the nearest "lifestyle center". Remind you of anything? It looks like downtown Bethlehem!

Allentown's leaders rightly note that Allentown's downtown is gone, as is its stature as the preeminent retail, banking, business center of the valley. That horse has left the barn. The question is whether an arena is the answer to stem the decline. Does Allentown have strong residential neighborhoods? Will people want to spend any time or money in the downtown after 5 pm? Will an arena spur development?


Anonymous said...

Does Allentown have strong residential neighborhoods? Will people want to spend any time or money in the downtown after 5 pm? Will an arena spur development?
Spend one day here in the city and the answer to these questions will be self evident.
There are many of us here after 5 PM. We are just not the type of folks our idiot administration labels as "people".
Oh, and NONE of us care a whit for hockey.
This project is an absurd sisyphus styled attempt to push the big rock up the steep hill.