I rented a storefront from Harvey Farr in the late 1970's. During the earlier heydays of Hamilton Street, Farr, along with The Morning Call's Donald Miller and John Leh, controlled downtown and owned Park & Shop, a series of surface lots serving the parking needs of their customers. They built the first parking deck in America, now the police station at 10th and Hamilton. As the end of Allentown's dominance as a shopping mecca became apparent, they sold the lots to the newly formed Allentown Parking Authority. This is a story of pulling strings and having connections, which only molovinsky brings you in Allentown; You will not read these unvarnished truths in The Morning Call.
The parking situation in Allentown was well managed by two or three meter maids who worked for the police department, patrolling the meter zone with golf carts. Farr, Miller and Leh prevailed upon then mayor for life Joe Daddona to bale them out of the parking business, and thus The Allentown Parking Authority was created. At first the Authority serviced the meters, but soon purchased the surface lots as originally pre-planned.
The Parking Authority continues as a political entity. It's board of directors are appointed by the current mayor for life, Ed Pawlowski, and are among his biggest cheerleaders. A recent article in The Morning Call states that Lee Butz and company was the only bidder for the Farr surface lot, which stretches from 8th Street to the east side of the PPL Plaza. It doesn't reveal that Butz actually initiated the sale by approaching the Authority with a request. As residents of Allentown wonder how the arena patrons will cope with both perceived parking and traffic problems, the Authority will be selling the last surface lot adjoining the new arena. Existing businesses, such as the Farr Loft Apartments and The BreWWorks depend on this lot for convenient parking. Just as The Parking Authority was formed 35 years ago by pulled strings, today it still accommodates those with connections.