Apr 6, 2016

The Apologists of Allentown

I've been sparring on and off with a young apologist for the administration and the NIZ at facebook. While he's been active in some civic activities for a few months, he actually asked me what I have done for Allentown? Yesterday morning, another facebook friend relayed the tale of an 82 year old woman working at a local dollar store to make ends meet. The young apologist suggested that she should apply for one the small business grants being touted in a shark tank type contest by the administration, called Retail Mosaic. This program is in lieu of meaningful community benefit from the NIZ, but being partially financed by the ones who have profited the most, such as City Center Development and National Penn Bankshares.  It should be called what the sponsors really think of it; Crumbs For The Little Bums, and those involved should be ashamed of themselves.  The Retail Mosaic article mentions ready available  storefronts.  I should trust that they're not going to steer the Little Bums into certain storefronts for the advantage of certain property owners, but there is a basis for such speculation.  In a previous grant program run by the Pawlowski Administration, all the grants seemed to go businesses operating out of storefronts operated by one local real estate partnership.

Other readers informed the young apologist that at 82,  the elderly woman should be at home on a porch, watching her grandchildren play. The apologists are in a rough position. Although they defend the NIZ, they must restrain themselves from demonstrative support of Pawlowski, in order to maintain some credibility. However, at the same time, the Mayor In Limbo continues to wield power and make appointments.


Scott Armstrong said...


We have seen these "apologists" from the start and truthfully, most of them have left town. Yes, they have good reasons(they say), nothing to do with spreading blight and disorder and/or the rising poverty rate. Their excuse, the school system. Yes, they are so myopic they don't see how their vocal full throated support of Ed facilitated the problems that led to the officially distressed school district. Oh yeah, that's right, it's the school district that is the problem.

George Ruth said...

Yes, millennials in Allentown are like kids going to college. It's temporary. They have fun for a few years then reality sets in, they feel the 'baby bump' and back to the suburbs they go.

Jamie Kelton said...

Location, location, location matters when you want to buy a home, start a business, or any kind of commercial real estate. In my view, Hamilton Street is the last place I would recommend starting a new business simply because it is unattractive despite the money poured into it by government.

Places such as the Lehigh Valley Mall are far more desirable even with the higher rents charged simply because of the amount of traffic it receives. For example, if my husband and I would want to open a coffee and muffin shop, we'd want a location that has a lot of pedestrian traffic. The Arts Walk isn't that, sorry, but Lehigh Valley Mall would be.

alfonso todd said...


LOL! I commented on it also and I must say this is a case where "children should be seen but not heard." Apparently,they didn't know how foolish they looked when they had the gall to ask "What have YOU done?" SMH... This is why historical investigation and context is important and when you assume you only make an ass out of yourself... All they had to do was look at your past issues of MOLOVINSKY ON ALLENTOWN to view what YOU have done.. Sheesh!

- Alfonso Todd

michael molovinsky said...

jamie@9:05, i spend a lot of time on hamilton street. despite the $1 billion spent, and all the hype by the morning call, the shopping demographic hasn't changed at all, they are still the "have-nots" who live north of linden street. the few upscale shops will have to get more than free rent, they will actually have to be paid to stay there, or transform their merchandize to the same "urban" fare of the previous shops.

Dave said...

Mr Molovinski

Look at the stores that were on Hamilton Street that were in the buildings that were torn down. They were stores that were successful and profit making because they served the demographic of the people that lived north of Linden. But they were seen as "undesirable" by City Hall.

Pawlowski wanted to turn Hamilton Street into Palm Beach. So he tore down a block of buildings, and the merits of that can be debated, and tried to remake the downtown into something that it was 50 years ago. The problem is that the demographics of Allentown in the 2010s isn't the Allentown of the 1960s We're a much poorer city economically, and the marketplace today isn't the marketplace that Pawlowski envisioned.

All the king's horses and all the king's men can't put Allentown back together again. At least not in the way Pawlowski envisioned. We're more like what is growing naturally along Seventh Street.

Monkey Momma said...

The absurdity of the Retail Mosaic astonishes me. Allentown is going to use OPM to start businesses on a shoestring, run (presumably) by people who have no business knowledge. Only a politician could think any of this would be helpful for a business district. Only an idiot would use reality TV to attempt to plan real life business.

Meanwhile, businesses on and around Hamilton that exist and thrive by their own hard work get overlooked completely, or (worse) got declared "undesirable" and threatened with Eminent Domain. Parking rates get doubled. Snow doesn't get plowed. Businesses in the NIZ must submit special income statements to the state and authority every year, at their own expense, regardless of whether or not they receive any NIZ dollars. All for no benefit and the creation of nearby competitors with unfair advantages. (Advantages, I might add, that still didn't prop up the likes of Tony Lukes, Shulas, American Hairlines, etc.)

In the real world, businesses respond to the demands of consumers. Identifying the consumer is critical. Is the typical downtown consumer interested in $50 steaks? Obviously not. $100 haircuts? Ummm...no. They ARE interested in eating at Billy's or at the Venny's or the Brew Works, all of which are a lower price point and a product with broader appeal. Politicians cannot force consumers to buy anything. Game show shenanigans appear shockingly desperate, and I wonder if this isn't the last gasp of the NIZ itself downtown? Just look at all the vacant storefronts that cannot be filled even with all the "gimmes."

michael molovinsky said...

dave@9:48, even 7th street isn't completely "organic". although the businesses for the most part locate there under their own volition, the facades are dressed up by a program and paid for with tax dollars. ironically, the dress up doesn't mean anything to the merchants or their customers, but is designed to make the street look more presentable to the passing by public.

momma@10:50, exactly

alfonso todd said...

Amen, Monkey Momma.

-Alfonso Todd