May 6, 2020

Watching Allentown's NIZ District

A recent article about Reilly's coming 520 Lofts building caught my attention.  It will be built on the north side of Linden Street, and require some reconfiguring by both the Allentown Parking Authority and Lanta.  Neither of those two entities wanted to comment to the reporter, until which time the project is approved by the Allentown Planning Commission.  I don't think they need worry about Reilly's plans passing muster. In truth no one, save for this blogger, has ever submitted any his plans to any scrutiny.

That free pass from scrutiny extends to the state, the city, the Morning Call, and even the NIZ board.  The Parking Authority has offered surface lots before for his projects.  Language in the recent article suggests that his residential projects can qualify for NIZ financing, while originally, they were supposed to be ineligible. Although Reilly claims that these apartments are demand driven, his recent Soviet era block on Walnut Street must have been incentive driven. It is devoid of everything, including people. It is the worst of all worlds. This past November the NIZ District map itself was altered.  I suspect that there is a correlation between the map changes and Reilly's acquisitions.

While scrutiny is limited solely to this blog,  I'm never the less reprimanded for it. Apologists label me a naysayer and hater of Allentown.  Public officials,  who are entrusted with monitoring the district, have told me they just know how dedicated Reilly is to Allentown.  I'm also dedicated... I'm dedicated to making sure that no person, organization or institution is beyond scrutiny.


  1. Mike,

    Lead by a group of incompetents and self servers the decline of this city continues and daily the problems become more widespread and severe. I have zero hope left for the city to be what it could and should have been. The pandemic is the final nail in the coffin for the NIZ which was on life support before the virus hit. Soon however the city won't just be our problem but a concern for the county and region. A collection of new, odd, empty high rises will be surrounded by extremely blighted neighborhoods with a transient,dysfunctional, low income population. When Allentown implodes, which won't be long, it will be everyone's problem.
    I talked to a friend a few blocks away recently, he is preparing to put his house on the market. A beautiful home with a nice garden and good neighbors, but across the ally it's all rentals. He told me, "Scott, it just gets worse and worse, we just want out".

  2. Scott@7:47, I believe that he is building these residents not because of "demand", but because of opportunity. The first floor commercial allows him to tap NIZ taxes for debt service. I do not believe that he can ever fill that many units with his target demographic. Some of the buildings, especially like the ones on Walnut Street, will be sooner than later occupied by the prevailing inner city tenant base.

  3. Why not, haven't high rise low income units worked so well in the past? Only in Allentown could this level of insanity and corrupt flourish.

  4. Two points in the post caught my eye:

    1) LANTA and the Parking Authority not wanting to comment before the deal is finalized just shows how corrupt these (supposed) public entities have become. That this happens with local (city, county, and state) politicians on their boards is appalling. Public scrutiny comes with the territory of being a public entity. And if the politicians on these boards don't understand that, they should be thrown out of office.

    2) Thank God someone else is commenting on the appearance of Reilly's buildings. Unlike the buildings he's torn down, his cookie-cutter (Soviet-style) designs won't stand the test of time. They will quickly look dated and make downtown less desirable in a short period of time. This is a major missed opportunity by those reviewing the plans and supposedly looking out for the city's interests.

  5. One of the most appalling new buildings in Allentown is the addition to William Allen High. it appears to have been cobbled together with materials left over from a variety of other building projects. It also resembles a tacky shower stall turned inside out.

  6. The design is not to fill the buildings, just anticipated income proposals by conflicting Lehigh valley realators as well as insurers! It's a dynamic design but the facts are laid out as the failures are unsurmountably filled by those paid the most at LVHN. The criminality of this farce is spread far and wide in the locked down lan of PA.