Jan 17, 2012
A Giant Among Midgets
Here's a story you will not read about on any official City of Allentown website. It's a story of private gumption, instead of the usual public subsidy. It's the late 1990's, and I stop in and visit infamous Allentown landlord Joe Clark. He's sitting at a desk in the middle of a large empty storefront at 7th and Turner, surrounded by landlord supplies and building materials. The phone rings and it's Mayor William Heydt. Heydt just learned that Clark purchased the vacant Eastern Light Building on Hamilton Street, and wants to know Clark's intentions. Clark tells him he's going to build the best nightclub Allentown has ever seen. Heydt doesn't offer any help, but tells him that he'll be under close scrutiny. Clark does go on to build the club, without a nickel of help from Allentown. Years later, when the BrewWorks would open with unlimited city subsidy, a public parking lot on 8th Street was given exclusively to the BrewWorks. A few weeks ago Clark asked if he could rent the Parking Authority lot behind the nightclub; Request Denied. This week, based on ticket sales, Crocodile Rock was rated the 60th most successful nightclub in the world for 2011. The midgets at City Hall pay for consultants, when there's a genius half a block away.