Jan 17, 2014

For Whom The Development Tolls

Myself, and other skeptics, have long maintained that the main beneficiaries of Allentown's NIZ are the few millionaires who will become billionaires. I do recognize that besides the few chosen developers and Pawlowski, there are citizens of good will who welcome what the mayor calls the transformation. However, some recent announcements seem to have little to no public benefit, but will cost the public in lost state taxes. The arena complex includes a new hotel facing 7th Street. The Holiday Inn at 9th and Hamilton will also be remodeled with zone tax funds. Business at that hotel has been marginal for years, and it has housed a series of taxpayer subsidized restaurants. Can minor league hockey fans support two hotels, can they support one? The Americus property at 6th and Hamilton also is seeking a $13 million dollar Authority loan for renovation. A new Butz proposal for the Farr Lot on 8th Street will soon push the Arena Authority loan portfolio close to the $Billion dollar mark. Contrary to Corbett's claim that there are no new taxes, we at the gasoline pump know better. Despite the cheerleaders for this development, all state residents will be paying for it, one way or another.


monkey momma said...

Speaking of the Butz proposal at the Farr lot...

Weren't those parking spots included in the tally for arena parking spaces available within a 3 block radius?

That lot is very busy and used by many many many folks who take the trouble to go downtown right now. It's hard to understand how making it even more difficult to park downtown will help existing city business.

Personally, I park at that lot when I visit BrewWorks in Allentown. I think a lot of restaurant patrons for both Billy's and BrewWorks use that lot. If I could not park there, I am not sure I would make the trip downtown - I am not game for strolling anywhere downtown after dark. It's not just "perception" that would keep me away - it's reality.

It's also interesting that the NIZ will pay for another office space/entertainment complex there, especially when the new PPL building next to the lot has a huge vacant spot where the Mexican restaurant used to be. There are vacant storefronts on Hamilton adjacent to the Farr lot, too. Signs of FAILURE are everywhere, which is why it makes no sense to spend people's hard earned tax dollars on wishes and dreams for an entertainment metropolis located downtown. Somebody needs to find a way to hit the pause button on this madness. There is literally no limit to the debt that can potentially be incurred downtown. How can limitless debt be the solution to anything????

michael molovinsky said...

monkeymomma@7:06, yes, we have gone beyond the "public benefit" stage. tenants at the farr lofts use that surface lot; without it, their parking and the desirability of that building as a residence is questionable. we considered a post this morning just on the lot, but the editorial board favored the general "public benefit" question first. a post on the parking issue will be coming by next week.

Rich Fegley said...

Many of the properties surrounding 7th & Hamilton, mostly along Hamilton, are owned by Reilly and a few other other persons. The Fegleys purchased Freeman's, Island in the Sun and the Cigar Store buildings all in the 900 block. The tenants all continue to lease from us and we have no plans except to wait right now. I would love to see Freeman's open a retail store in the future, post arena.

I believe there are plans (demolition) for the building on the SE corner of 8th and Hamilton, for example. The buildings look abandoned today. Reilly has development plans for these buildings.

I'm sure, most of the 700 block will be completely redeveloped within the next year or so.

Better busses, proper traffic flow, and easy to find parking. We can do it.