Jun 14, 2016

The NIZ and Affordable Housing

Ce-Ce Gerlach has been trying to wrestle some concessions from the ANIZDA concerning affordable housing, more less as a community benefit for the little people. After all, big bucks are piling up in Reilly's account. So far, she has gotten a little lip service, but I'm afraid that's all that's coming her way. As Sy Traub likes to point out, Allentown has a lot more gentrifying to do before it need concern itself with the little people. She should have have been at the Business Matters NIZ debate, when a NIZ spokesman called the former merchants and their customers a cancer. Sy Traub was on the show and didn't object. The only objector at the time was this blogger, and i don't even agree with Ce-Ce on the affordable housing. Allentown has an abundance of affordable housing, that's why poor people keep moving here. Besides, the little people will be living in Strata 1 and 2 soon enough. It's one thing to induce companies to locate downtown, but it's another thing for those office workers to want to live there. Ce-Ce need not worry about gentrification forcing lower income people out of center city. Reilly did dislocate some tenants with his failed attempt to build a mega project along Walnut Street, but even he knows that the revitalization has peaked.

NIZ Debate: l to r;  Tony Iannelli, Steve Thode, Sy Traub, Michael Molovinsky, Mike Fleck


Dave said...

The debate about when Strata I and Strata II being turned over to the Allentown Housing Authority isn't if, but when. I suspect 2018 is when the entire farce collapses.

Until then, my old neighborhood at 8th and Liberty has plenty of affordable housing for Ce-Ce and her friends to move into. There is a lot more in the City just outside of the rarefied environment south of Linden as well.

Jamie Kelton said...

Mr Molovinski

First, I do want to mention that I like the photo you have on the home page of Hamilton Street during what looks like the 1950s. It shows a vibrant, prosperous central business district before the horrid "mall" concept that changed the face of the city for the worse.

It also leads into what I want to say about Ce-Ce Gerlach, a poverty pimp of the first order. Growing up in Allentown, we didn't have people such as her in the political scene. We had mayors and city council members that were far-sighted and encouraged economic growth in the city. Even in the area east of the Tilghman Street Bridge, between 4th and Front, although not as prosperous as the rest of the city was, there were plenty of decent homes and neighborhoods to live in, as well as other homes in the city that were "affordable housing".

We've had projects such as the "NIZ" before. City Hall, the Lehigh County Courthouse tore up a large area of "affordable housing" between 5th and Jordan Creek. Also the Lawrence Street project destroyed many working-class homes for workers and has never been really re-developed.

So now Ms Gerlach is pushing for "affordable homes" in the NIZ. She won't have to wait long, as the entire scheme is a house of cards. All one has to do is look at the former "Allentown Motor Inn" at 4th & Hamilton to see what the "upscale apartments" will become.

The NIZ will not re-create the Allentown of your cover photo. At best, it will be simply new storefronts for the "undesirables" that were forced out of Hamilton Street by eminent domain.

Doc Rock said...


I believe I also questioned just who the "cancers" were In Allentown on that "Business Matters" program.

Geoff said...

It was probably a little easier to be a political leader of Allentown in post-war America, particularly when you had an economy with titans like Mack Trucks paying the bills. Those days haven't been with us for a long time, and political leaders of the 1970s and 1980s didn't do much about it either.

The fact of the matter is that small and mid-sized cities have it very tough in this economy--and it will likely get even tougher. Companies are consolidating operations in bigger metro areas, hacking away at white-collar workforces, automating administrative processes, stripping assets, reducing headquarters, etc. Even the regional banks are being bought up and consolidated.

I agree that the NIZ is almost certain to fail, but it is the formula that is available for leaders in cities like Allentown to follow (see Hartford, CT, for example). And when the region basically is surviving by turning every piece of available land into a warehouse, the long term signs are a bit uncertain