Nov 30, 2022

7th Street As The Combat Zone

Years ago, in addition to being a blogger, I was also an activist.  I fought against the dislocation of the former Hamilton Street merchants, as their properties were being assembled for the coming NIZ.  They were threatened with eminent domain and other heavy handed tactics by City Hall.  Those interested can find the stories here in this blog's archives, but not in the Morning Call, which was part and parcel of the NIZ from the get-go.

While those merchants were considered a "cancer" on Hamilton Street, the same merchants are now called a "success story" on 7th Street. On a recent post, someone comments that they will no longer patronize 7th Street,  which they now consider rude, crude and dangerous. 

In the 1970's, downtown Boston had a section called the combat zone.  There, the riff-raff could enjoy themselves, and not despoil the upscale shops elsewhere in the city. We have created a combat zone in Allentown, called 7th Street. Credit a street manager with doing a great job dressing up the buildings, but the double parking attitude remains. 

Unfortunately for Allentown, no upscale shopping has taken hold on Hamilton Street. But, actually, the Hamilton Street NIZ wasn't really meant as an urban renewal project, but rather a privately owned, publicly financed, real estate bonanza for a few connected individuals. Again, it's a story you'll only find in this blog's archives.

photocredit:Boston Combat Zone/molovinsky


  1. Took my family down to Hamilton Street for dinner and drinks on Black Friday and since there was no Phantoms game or concert at the PPL Center it was a desolate, eerie, empty scene. It's incredible to see all the new housing being built and it seems like no one is there!

  2. anon@7:32: Those units are being built with our diverted state tax dollars. Although the NIZ was originally supposed to be limited to commercial, it's apparent that there is no scrutinization. With us paying the debt service, he'll keep building... tenants now aren't necessary.

  3. That NIZ scheme was a loser for Pennsylvania taxpayers from the start! By the end of the first 2 years it was clearly destined to be a money pit that will never produce more NEW tax revenue than the amount of revenue shifted out of the state budget. I am shocked the whole scam was permitted to continue for years as the deficit hole grew deeper by the year.

    I agree with the other poster, the apartment units might well be leased, but the majority are not occupied.

  4. I like the observation(s) regarding tenancy in all the glorious new buildings... that we keep having rammed down our throat that they are FULL and we need MORE housing.... if they were SO full you would think the for lease and for rent signs would be log gone!!! THEN they have the colossal nerve to print an article in the Morning Call bemoaning the need for more AFFORDABLE housing in Allentown... NEWSFLASH: IT'S NOT IN THE NIZ!!! The rents are crazy high IMHO!!!

  5. My concern is that at some point City Center sells all the new NIZ apartment buildings and then they really do become some form of public/subsidized low income housing slums that attract people from Newark, Elizabeth, Bronx, Queens, Jersey City, Paterson etc.