Allentown’s Americus Hotel Project Advances, But Concerns Remain

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

The revitalization of Allentown‘s Americus Hotel took another step toward reality today, but development officials want further assurances the project will actually be completed.

“We don’t want to have a project that’s going to fail,” said Sy Traub, chairman of the authority that oversees development in the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

“If we approve a project that goes belly up in the middle of it, and it’s a project in the middle of our city that’s going to sit vacant and stalled, then it’s going to be a real problem,” Traub said.

Developer Albert Abdouche appeared today before a Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority committee with his plans for a revamped 11-story hotel at 549 Hamilton St.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/02/allentowns_americus_hotel_proj.html#incart_river

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bill To Boost Neighborhood Climate Could Freeze Out Reading

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two competing bills are being introduced in the state Senate that would expand Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone – unique and highly successful but also highly criticized – to other Pennsylvania cities.

One bill would include Reading; the other would not.

The prize for any city is the zones’ new ability to retain state personal income and sales tax revenue generated in the zone, using it to repay bond issues for demolition, infrastructure and even new buildings.

But both bills, in answer to charges that Allentown’s gains are the state’s losses, would limit how much state tax can be kept locally.

Sen. Lloyd Smucker, a Lancaster Republican, introduced the first bill in early May to authorize what he calls City Revitalization and Improvement Zones.  Its pilot program applies only to cities with 40,000 to 70,000 people.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=484975

Allentown’s City Center Gets NIZ Pay Day Of $14.4 Million

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)

Close to half of the $31.8 million in mostly state tax dollars swept up by Allentown‘s arena zone last year will go to the private developer erecting an 11-story office building across Seventh Street from the arena.

City Center Investment Corp. will get $14.4 million of the tax dollars generated by its projects to put toward its construction and land acquisition loans.  The Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority will get $17.4 million to pay its debt for building PPL Center.

About $2 million would go into state coffers from a part of the city that is estimated to have been generating $22 million in state money before the Neighborhood Improvement Zone was created.

The figures were released Wednesday by ANIZDA Executive Director Sara Hailstone, a month after The Morning Call filed a Right-to-Know request for the information, which was compiled April 6 by authority consultants Compass Point and Concannon Miller.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-arena-zone-tax-dollars-20130529,0,4840494.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

Massachusetts Looks To The Lehigh Valley For Inspiration

It’s a river city with quaint Victorian architecture once known for its pioneering manufacturing processes that gave America the industrial might to fight its wars.

But now, it’s re-imagining itself as a “knowledge corridor,” thanks to nearby colleges, and possibly as an entertainment center as gaming companies circle for a place to put a new casino.

That might sound a lot like Bethlehem.

But it’s Springfield, the biggest city in western Massachusetts.

As leaders there begin to dive into the details of reinventing the greater Springfield area, they are looking at Bethlehem as it enters its fourth year hosting a casino and the rest of the Lehigh Valley for advice and inspiration.

Read more:

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-springfield-gaming-20121129,0,5144006.story

National Penn Bank Moving Headquarters To Allentown

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

Boyertown, PA – National Penn Bancshares Inc., the holding company that operates National Penn Bank, will move its corporate headquarters from Boyertown to Allentown and will build a new facility on Broadcasting Road in Spring Township, according to a company statement released this morning.

The new headquarters will be at Seventh and Hamilton streets in downtown Allentown, a Neighborhood Improvement Zone, and will house about 275 employees. It is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2014.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/Article.aspx?id=421290

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

Legal Stalemate Over, Allentown Racing To Build Hockey Arena

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)

With suburban communities poised to withdraw the lawsuits that have halted Allentown‘s $220 million arena project, the city appears to be left with one big question: Can it build the arena fast enough?

The project is months behind schedule and city officials are scrambling to find ways to make up lost time, including the option of starting the 2013-14 season with a two-month road trip.

Still, the most important job is getting the suburban townships to officially drop their lawsuits.

“When that is formalized, it will allow us to move forward,” said Rep. Jennifer Mann, D-Lehigh. “The biggest piece is ramping up, getting the construction schedule going full throttle. That is the one that hurts us the most. One commodity you can’t get back is time. We have lost at least 90 days in this process.”

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-pa-arena-construction-20120702,0,2846794.story