Center City Allentown High-End Apartments Renting Far Faster Than Expected, Developer Says

English: View of Allentown City from east side

English: View of Allentown City from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Developer J.B. Reilly has been building apartments for 25 years, but he’s never seen demand like he’s seeing now for his high-end apartments in Center City Allentown.

His company, City Center Lehigh Valley, announced Sept. 8 it was accepting deposits for 170 apartments in the under-construction Strata Luxury Flats at Four City Center. Two months later, almost half have deposits on them.

“I’ve been in the apartment development business my whole career and we’ve never experienced this kind of demand – even close to this kind of demand,” Reilly said Friday.

The interest in the apartments is tied to the new attention on Allentown’s downtown, Reilly said. In recent months, new restaurants, office space and a minor league hockey arena have opened, with Reilly leading much of the development.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/11/center_city_allentown_high-end.html

Allentown Residents Benefiting From Hockey Arena Area Job Growth

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Oliver Velasquez arrived for a job fair earlier this summer at the new Allentown hockey arena, he was shocked by the number of attendees.

“I didn’t expect to see that many people; there must have been thousands,” the 26-year-old Allentown resident said. “The line actually wrapped around the block a couple of times.”

Velasquez waited in that line, and it paid off for him. He is now the PPL Center’s new suites and catering manager, providing banquets for catered events and overseeing food in the arena’s private suites.

He is one of more than 300 city residents to find employment as part of an effort by community activists and city officials to ensure people living in Allentown get a fair shot at the jobs being created by downtown redevelopment.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentown_residents_benefittin.html

National Penn Bancshares Holds Grand Opening At New Allentown Headquarters

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the first time in nearly 35 years, a bank has established its headquarters in the city of Allentown.

More than 500 people today attended the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of National Penn Bancshares’ new headquarters in the 11-story Two City Center in the city’s downtown neighborhood.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski said it was more than simply a new business moving into the city but rather a showing of confidence in the ongoing revitalization of Allentown.

“We really appreciate the confidence you’ve put in us, and for bringing Allentown back to a central point for being a place of commerce and activity for the entire region,” Pawlowski told representatives of the bank.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/04/national_penn_bancshares_holds.html

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With Financing Woes Resolved, Construction Begins At Allentown’s Schoen’s Building

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With its financing woes behind it, construction began today on the $9.8 million renovation of the former Schoen’s Furniture Store in Allentown.

The 612 W. Hamilton St. structure has now been dubbed the Trifecta Building after its primary tenant, Trifecta Technologies, the software firm that will occupy the top three of the building’s six floors.

During an open house and construction launch party today, Trifecta founder and CEO Doug Pelletier expressed excitement about being part of the City Center neighborhood’s ongoing revitalization.

“We’re coming downtown, and we’re not just coming here to work,” Pelletier said. “We’re going to drink in your bars, we’re going to eat in your restaurants, we’re going to cheer at the arena. That’s what we love about coming here.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2013/11/with_financing_woes_resolved_c.html

Allentown OKs Plans For Four City Center

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Allentown Planning Commission on Tuesday approved plans for Four City Center, a $30 million, five-story luxury apartment and retail development proposed for Seventh and Linden streets, across from the city’s new arena.

Working with Pennrose Properties, City Center Investment Corp. plans two buildings that will include 168 amenity-packed apartments, half of which will be one-bedroom and the other half two-bedroom units, renting for at least $1,000 a month. They will also house 12-15 first-floor retail and restaurant spaces.

Construction could begin as soon as November and is expected to be complete by the end of 2014.  The goal is to bring more middle-income residents downtown to complement multiple new office buildings, support retailers and inject life into Hamilton Street, which empties out at night and on weekends.

The plans include a large five-story apartment complex with center courtyard, coupled with a smaller three-story, primarily retail structure sitting astride a brick walkway that ties into the city’s Arts Park.  They also include a 600-square-foot pocket park.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-four-center-city-20130910,0,158806.story#ixzz2eXXYU2h3
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Air Products To Set Up Shop In Downtown Allentown

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Downtown Allentown has attracted a new tenant — one of the region’s nameplate companies.

Air Products of Trexlertown said Thursday it had signed a lease for space at Two City Center, the 11-story office tower being built on the site of the former First National Bank building at Seventh and Hamilton streets, across from the city’s new hockey arena.

The company — one of two Fortune 500 companies in the Lehigh Valley and the region’s third-largest employer with more than 3,600 local workers — expects to move its liquefied natural gas commercial and engineering teams to the building next summer.

“We feel locating these teams at this new development is a meaningful contribution and visible commitment to the revitalization of the city,” Air Products Senior Vice President John Stanley said in a news release.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-air-products-leases-city-center-space-20130808,0,7399771.story#ixzz2bXcxcx9L
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Fiber Optics Headquarters To Occupy New 10-Story Building In Allentown

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

York-based United Fiber & Data will occupy a new 10-story building behind the Butz Corporate Center in the 800 block of Hamilton Street in Allentown.

The building will rise behind the existing Butz structures, and have three floors of parking garage and four stories of office space topped by three stories of apartments and condominiums.  It’s a long-planned third phase of the Butz headquarters, located across 9th Street from the PPL tower.

Details are being announced this morning.

From its new Allentown headquarters, United Fiber & Data will run a new 300-mile fiber optics network serving clients from New York to Virginia.  The company will occupy a just-completed Butz building on Hamilton until Butz completes the new structure in spring 2015.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-niz-butz-fiber-optic-20130517,0,5580943.story

Allentown Hockey Arena Zone Businesses Putting Up Money For Downtown Improvements, Facades

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conscious that the borders of Allentown’s new arena district could become a visible dividing line between the haves and have nots, two downtown businesses are pumping $300,000 into the neighborhood just outside the arena zone.

City Center Investment Corp. will donate $200,000 and PPL will kick in $100,000 to help as many as 30 businesses along Hamilton Street remake their storefronts.

The deal comes as city and community leaders have spent months considering how to help the massive tax incentives undergirding the $272 million arena, hotel and office complex spill into the struggling communities just outside the Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

Under the program, businesses along Hamilton Street, between 10th and 12th streets — the first two blocks outside the NIZ — can get grants of roughly $15,000 to reface their shops.  By the time city officials finished their 20-minute news conference Monday to announce the program, six eligible businesses had already expressed interest in the free money.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-hockey-arena-facades-20130429-55,0,6163711.story

Allentown Arena Construction On Schedule, Mayor Is Pleased

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Six years ago Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, his city still smarting from losing the Sands casino to Bethlehem, first suggested that an arena might make a fine consolation prize.

Pawlowski on Wednesday, standing at the city’s $272 million arena complex, surrounded by dust and gravel, hard hats and heavy machines, looked downright satisfied.

With construction in full swing, steel and concrete rising from what was once a block of low-end stores and for a time just a muddy hole at Seventh and Hamilton streets, Pawlowski, media in tow, got his first tour of a project that he has been trying to make a reality for most of his time in office.

“It really is amazing when you think about going from the conceptual stage to something that is physically under construction,” Pawlowski said afterward.  “I wanted to show the amount of planning that has really gone into this construction process.”

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-hockey-arena-site-tour-20130424,0,2991685.story

Pawlowski To Run For Third Term As Allentown Mayor

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His supporters say Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski is a visionary; a leader who has ushered unprecedented development into the city with the state-supported Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

His detractors say he’s a man in isolation, unwilling to listen to an angry populace unhappy with his plan to lease one of the city’s most valuable assets.

On Monday, Ed Pawlowski will announce a bid for a third term in office.

And so far, he has no opposition.  Political observers on both sides say that’s unlikely to change.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-mayor-pawlowski-candidate-announcemen-20130113,0,6204569.story

Allentown’s American Parkway Bridge Groundbreaking

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At first glance, Friday’s groundbreaking for the American Parkway Bridge looked pretty much like every other ceremony where shivering, dark-suited community leaders poke their gold-painted shovels into some carefully piled dirt.

But this time, behind all the pomp and pageantry were more than five decades of planning, fighting, waiting and frustration.

It was 1956 when excited city leaders first proposed a direct path between downtown Allentown and Route 22, and Friday those shovel-wielding leaders celebrated the beginning of construction of a $46 million American Parkway Bridge project they say represents both the struggles of the past and the promise of the future.

It will span the Lehigh River just north of the Tilghman Street bridge and south of the Route 22 bridge.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-american-parkway-bridge-20121214,0,3965525.story

Hess’s Workers Gather To Remember Allentown’s Heyday

English: Scan of slide circa 1950 of Hess Brot...

English: Scan of slide circa 1950 of Hess Brothers Department Store, Allentown, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  I too remember trips to the Allentown store, lunch at the Patio Room and the whole “Hess’s” experience.  Sadly missed!

As Steve Saganowich of Whitehall Township pulls a dog-eared photo from his wallet, his face displays a giddy grin that seems much too young for his 79 years.

And it only widens as he explains the photo that shows him hemming a 7-year-old Donny Osmond‘s pant-leg when the child star appeared at Hess’s in 1964.

“See, lots of big stars came to Allentown to appear at Hess’s,” said Saganowich, who worked as a Hess’s men’s department tailor for 47 years.  “Hess’s put Allentown on the map.”

Saganowich was one of more than 100 former Hess’s workers who gathered at Emmaus Community Park on Saturday for the first time since the famed downtown Allentown department store closed in 1996.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-hess-employees-reunion-20120818,0,6307652.story

Allentown’s Historic Americus Hotel Could Get NIZ Tax Help

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This is great news! Revitalizing our Pennsylvania cities is important!

Vacant and dilapidated the past nine years, Allentown’s 12-story Americus Center Hotel got good news this week when the state decided the city can alter the borders of its downtown arena zone to include the historic hotel.

Any changes to the borders of its Neighborhood Improvement Zone, Pennsylvania Department of Revenue officials say, must be made before bonds are sold to fund the $220 million arena complex.

With the arena authority preparing to sell bonds next month, it means city officials will have to work fast, said Sara Hailstone, Allentown director of community and economic development.

“We will need to follow up with the Department of Revenue and work through the details,” Hailstone said. “This is a great opportunity for the city.”

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-pa-arena-niz-20120819,0,6877859.story