Mar 6, 2014

The Backside of Allentown's Development

Yesterday was a big day for J.B. Reilly and his City Center Development. The New York Times featured a story on Allentown's unique development bonanza, and Reilly was rubber stamped by the Arena Authority to build two more buildings. There were a couple of items in the Times puff article which demand a reality check. Aided by tax dollars that would otherwise go to state or local general funds, developers should be able to offer attractive rents to companies that bring in new workers — who in turn might move into or buy new apartments and support new shops and restaurants in what had been a blighted urban landscape. Although I know that the lunch business will increase tenfold, I can yet to believe that the new workers will choose to live downtown. Another concern of mine is the quote by the hospital administrator. Dr. Ronald Swinfard, chief executive of the nonprofit, said it would benefit by paying less rent per square foot than it does in its current suburban location — where it will retain some operations — but that it was mainly attracted to the new building because it will add to facilities for the community medicine that the group already offers elsewhere in Allentown. My worry is that their presence in the new building on Hamilton Street will lessen their commitment to the facility at 17th and Chew Streets. Any reduction in that commitment would be very detrimental to greater Allentown.


Anonymous said...


This entire effort is a tax payer funded field of dreams. None of these building are based on need but rather hope. Hope that somehow shiny new buildings will displace the blight that will surround them. In the past business people and commercial entities erected new structure to fill needs or promote success, now they seek government bait to move commercial activity from one area to another. This is all portrayed by the media as progress.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Will the Mourning Call ever do a story of Nasty Penn's leaving of Boyertown to be tumbleweeds to the new tax dollar subsidized buildings in ATown?

michael molovinsky said...

scott@7:50, this post in another post will examine the NYT use of the word blightin it's article

anon@8:33, the Reading Eagle reported that National Penn claimed that they will also remain a strong presence in boyertown.

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand why the Morning Call continues to label these funds to developers as LOANS. Does the developer ever really pay back this 'loan'? I don't think so.

Is there a lien placed on the property? I mean, doesn't there come a point down the road when the developer says " I have this building for sale. It didn't cost me anything to build . . "

Obviously, I'm missing something here.

Anonymous said...

Just redd the article in the times and even the big Don Cunnilingwist and Thoud are questioning this manipulation of the masses relocated? Still the numbers just don't equate?

Than there is the statement about the greatest industry in this nation ever, of course before non profit healthcare became the leading industry of this nation? This taking advantage of the disadvataged has become and has been a massive corperation in the lehighvalley since the early 90's

Anonymous said...

At what point does the city say enough is enough and look to change the deal in the favor of the taxpayers? Is the idea just to build as much as possible in the zone without any real plan or concern for other areas of the city, or is there a point where the city starts looking for a better deal?

I understand the incentive for Reilly to build as many as possible as quickly as possible. I suspect at one point he will soon be selling essentially debt-free buildings at a handsome profit (or at least buildings where the taxpayers are picking up the mortgage payment), but do the taxpayers get to share in the wealth when the buildings are sold at a profit?

It seems the taxpayers are covering the risk, they should get much of the reward in the event of a sale. Even merely paying off the loan doesn't seem enough should the buildings be sold at a profit. Otherwise, it's one big transfer of wealth from taxpaying citizens to one (or a few) developers.

Is asking those type of questions beyond the ability of the local media?

Anonymous said...

LVHN wants out of 17th and Chew in the worst way.
Internally this is an open secreat.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Spike Lee should be invited by the New York Times to discuss gentrification issues of the downtown Allentown districts. Having traveled the area between Interstate 80 and 78 into Manhattan where all of my major accounts where, for over 30 years I was in a good position to be an eye witness to the process. First it was Manhattan's neighborhoods, then Hobpken, and then Brooklyn. Where did many of the displaced people of those area's come to you quessed it. Not just Allentown but all of Eastern Pennsylvania. We are about to witness the shuffling of the poor once again, under the guize of " Revitalization "

Ted Yost