The City of Allentown has established a public-private partnership that will improve the appearance of buildings and attract investments to the city districts surrounding the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ). At a press conference held on April 29th, Mayor Pawlowski was joined by representatives from the participating partners which consist of: the Hamilton District Main Street Program (HDMSP), the Seventh Street Development Committee (SSDC), private developer City Center Lehigh Valley and downtown Allentown’s largest employer, PPL.
“As Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) drives redevelopment within its borders, we also need to attract investment beyond them in order to revitalize the entire downtown,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said. “The mission of this new partnership is to make the neighborhoods around the NIZ more inviting to encourage new businesses, residents and visitors. In other words, the partnership aims to create direct economic benefits to the community surrounding the NIZ.”
City Center Lehigh Valley will contribute $200,000 to the first phase of plan, which will offer grants to help existing business and property owners improve the facades of their buildings in the 1000 and 1100 blocks of Hamilton Street during the next 24 months. The goal is to improve 15 to 30 facades with an average grant size of $15,000. PPL will support this first phase by continuing to contribute $100,000 it currently provides for the Main Street and neighborhood-improvement programs on Hamilton and Seventh Streets.
The initiative will be administered by the HDMSP, a program of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, with support from the SSDC, a program of the Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown, both of which have extensive experience working with Allentown business owners to improve their properties. Other districts of the city will be supported as the program grows and more private investors volunteer to provide resources. The City of Allentown, the HDMSP and the SSDC will jointly market the initiative.
“This is an outstanding example of public-private partnership,” Pawlowski said. “It will help educate local business and property owners about the importance of façade quality in improving the overall downtown appearance and give them a financial boost toward meeting that goal. We aim to create a kind of confidence in the city that will ignite further business investment and also encourage pedestrians to stroll, shop, visit arts institutions, attend events, work and live downtown.”