Allentown Could Be Blueprint For New Development

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

ALLENTOWN, PA – Three years ago, run-down tattoo parlors and pawnshops dominated Hamilton Street, the main drag in Pennsylvania’s third-largest city.

Now they’re gone, replaced by high-tech firms, high-end restaurants, and a burst of construction activity. In 22 months, seven buildings of at least 10 stories have gone up along Hamilton Street, and two older buildings were rehabbed. The centerpiece is the PPL Center, a new, gleaming, 10,000-seat arena that this week opens as the new hockey home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers’ minor league affiliate.

Bolstered by special legislation that diverts most of the state taxes on new development within a 130-acre urban zone, supporters say what’s happened in Allentown could be a blueprint for other long-suffering small cities eager to shed their industrial past.

“I think we’re trying to change the Allentown identity,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said over lunch Thursday at the Hamilton, one of five new downtown restaurants. “It was so jerry-rigged over the years there wasn’t much of an identity left.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20141012_Allentown_could_be_blueprint_for_new_development.html#elAVd62cIEa7dzdL.99

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Allentown Approves New Parking Garage Near Hockey Arena

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

Allentown officials have insisted they are prepared for the barrage of vehicles that will be coming into the city from the opening of the new PPL Centerhockey arena.

Now, those vehicles will have 1,000 additional spots to park in.

Allentown planners signed off today on a new seven-story parking garage at Sixth and Walnut streets, within walking distance of the arena and other major downtown development projects.

“The traffic’s coming, there’s nothing we can do about that,” said Oldrich Focuek, planning commission chairman. “You know ‘the British are coming?’ Well, the traffic is coming, and we’re trying to deal with that.”

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

A Tale Of Two Improvement Zones

ALLENTOWN, PA — In the center of this city’s downtown is a Civil War monument complete with a sailor, artilleryman, infantryman and a cavalry soldier.

It is very similar to the one in Lancaster’s Penn Square, but larger.

That’s fitting for a city with twice the population and twice the land area as Lancaster.

And for a city that has experienced proportionally larger swings of fortune.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/a-tale-of-two-improvement-zones/article_f8de6fa0-f277-11e3-8f19-0017a43b2370.html

Allentown Hockey Arena Sees Milestone As Concrete Slab Is Poured

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

The Allentown hockey arena construction saw another milestone today as more than 30 trucks worth of concrete were poured for what will be a 17,000-square-foot ice floor.

A total of 315 cubic yards of concrete were poured today, and the next major step will be making the ice itself, which will occur in the summer.

“This took a great team effort,” said Jim Brooks, co-owner of the Phantoms hockey team that will start its 2014 season at the PPL Center in September.

“There’s not too many 10,000-seat venues in the world, let alone the United States, and even less that have ice-making capabilities,” Brooks said. “It’s very difficult to pull off.”

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

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Allentown Arena Starts To Get Its Roof Overhead

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

A milestone of sorts for Allentown’s new arena has begun.

Three massive cranes this morning began lifting the seven 236-foot-long roof supports, called trusses, into place above the 8,500-seat PPL Center. Workers hoisted 85 feet in the air in high-reach cherry-pickers will use pneumatic wrenches to fasten the trusses into place with massive bolts.

Each truss, a curved structural support laced with a series of steel triangles, weighs between 125,000 and 212,000 pounds.

The first truss is expected to take 14 to 16 hours to install. The trusses were constructed on the arena floor last week.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-arena-truss-installation-20131003,0,5253395.story#ixzz2glgUA0Eu
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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