Lehigh Valley

Allentown Mayor announces revitalization initiative

Pawlowski announces revitalization

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - There are millions of dollars worth of development happening in downtown Allentown right now.

However, Mayor Ed Pawlowski says he's not forgetting about parts of the city that are still struggling.

Thursday the mayor announced a revitalization project that will pump millions of dollars into the poorest neighborhoods.

The mayor said the $2.5 million will be put to use to make changes in areas that need it most in Allentown.

"We're putting our money where our mouth is," said Pawlowski. "This is some dollars that are both federal dollars, the CDBG program, as well as dollars that we have for capital improvements and even some money that we've gotten from the sale of the colonial lot to J.B. Reilly and City Center development."

"We're really trying to effectuate change through blight remediation, home ownership, street-scape improvements, early child education programs, after school programs, summer youth programs," he added.

Kenneth Heffentrager with the Tenant Association of Allentown said, "Fantastic, that's great to hear, now we want to see what neighborhoods is he talking about."

Julian Kern, with the same group, said, "I think they should think about doing community gardens, maybe knock some of the buildings down that are the worst."

"Activities for the youth of Allentown is probably a big thing," Heffentrager added.

Mayor Pawlowski said it's a partnership that will include businesses and the school district.

He did not specify which neighborhoods will be part of the revitalization projects but said he wants to make sure no one's left behind.

"We're looking at those areas that have the poorest census tracts and have the highest concentrations of poverty, they happen to be right around the downtown, as well," the mayor added.

Meanwhile, Allentown's Neighborhood Improvement Zone, or NIZ, may be getting two new buildings. Developer J.B. Reilly, the developer of five other buildings in the NIZ, announced plans to build two more office complexes. One would be at Seventh and Hamilton and the other at the former Gallery on the Mall site on Hamilton Street.

Pawlowski said, "We can have all this development, we can have billions of dollars in new investment, which we have, thousands of new jobs coming in, but if we're still having people that are living at or below the poverty level, we have not succeeded as a city."

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