Dec 10, 2014

My $Billion Dollar Meal

Regular readers of this blog know that it wouldn't be my style to write a restaurant review. I happen to eat at one of the NIZ's new eateries this past Friday and noticed that there certainly was no $Billion Dollar crowd on Hamilton Street, there was no crowd at all. The restaurant itself was fairly busy, but the loud band in the bar area overwhelmed any favorable impression of the place. Yesterday, the Morning Call ran a front page story on the first retail business induced to the NIZ, a printing franchise. Today's headline is that Shula's is moving from the Promenade in Center Valley to J.B. Reilly's newest building, at 7th and Linden. Buried in the article on page 4 we learn that Reilly offered very competitive rent. Another restauranteur induced out of retirement described that incentive as a deal that nobody could refuse. Despite the headline promo by the paper, the reality is that Shula's is moving from the most expensive private sector location in the valley to practically free rent, subsidized by the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

photo credit:The Morning Call/Harry Fisher/December9,2014


Anonymous said...

My folks used to say back in the late 30's & 40's "I wonder how all the poor people are doing" In essence referring to rest of us....The Center City Allentown N.I.Z. is "gentrification"
at it's best..."Go figure" HA!....PJF

Anonymous said...

They're gone in 24 months.

Ron Beitler said...

Your argument is valid. Only point I'd make is the Promenade is a location also subsidized by taxpayers. Suburban shopping centers are often induced with massive infrastructure expenditures. (build it and they will come)

This is the case in SV and it's not over. The current problems with 309/CVPKWY are well documented. The solution will someday be pouring in another infusion of state money.

My argument is usually (oversimplifying for the sake of comment).. roll back infrastructure subsidies and let localities pay for improvements they think will bring revenue and wealth over the long term. If the long term finances are sound than any project worth doing is worth paying for up front to capture the rewards.

I am a fan of good urbanism but it isn't an agenda. It's just the natural order that if you remove subsidies in general that cities will benefit from a re-leveling of the playing field.

Allentown suffered in part because of suburban subsidies. I'd argue its one of the biggest parts. Two wrongs do not make a right. I am not in favor of re-engineering the system to favor the cities... I am in favor of an equitable system that favors neither. Then we let economics take over without the gov't distortions.

Infrastructure should not be a catalyst for growth but something that emerges in support of productive patterns of development.

Bernie O'Hare said...

... and is telling everyone he's following his so-called heart.

Anonymous said...


If you think the cities are somehow being shortchanged,I suggest you look at the budgets of one of the valley's cities.

They receive millions in direct aid, from all levels of government, in addition to millions of indirect aid for things like the NIZ and other taxpayer funded schemes. Factor in who is actually paying the taxes, and you quickly see the suburbs are getting hosed.

I have no problem getting rid of it all, but let's stop spreading the lie that the cities have somehow been shortchanged.

Anonymous said...

MM, it's going to be interesting. We are already over saturated with restaurants downtown to the point I know for a fact people are already being laid off from some of the eateries because there isn't enough of a customer base to support the structure. The gentrification everyone claims is happening is in fact, NOT happening. There has been no mass moving in nor mass exodus from Allentown much to the chagrin of many. Sure, there are future projects, businesses, and apartments being built, but it seems everything is being based on HOPE. A billion dollar project based on fingers being crossed and hoping people come, businesses build, and A-town lives happily ever after. Whether pro or con, everyone knows something needs to happen and hopefully it does...

Alfonso Todd

Anonymous said...

I support financial incentives, however, it goes a little far when these incentives are used to poach business from neigboring municipalities. I like to see new investment to the valley, not just a relocation incentive. Has there been any talk about changing the legislation?

michael molovinsky said...

@12:18, it's my understanding that the new version for selected other communities, called CRIZ, does require either new ventures or at least from out of state. however, allentown's NIZ will stay as is, depreciating other communities and the state coffer, for the benefit of a few individuals.