Lehigh Valley

Grants help businesses on route to Allentown arena spruce up facades

Grants help businesses on route to arena spruce up facades

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - It's not all about the arena. Much attention has been given to the giant stadium springing up in Allentown's downtown, but soon, businesses outside the Neighborhood Improvement Zone will get some sprucing up.

City Center and PPL have invested roughly $200,000 to help Hamilton Street businesses in the 1000 and 1100 blocks look their best by taking a cue from Seventh Street.

"I am a fan of downtown, and I am just very happy with everything that is going on," said Sal Catania, who has owned Delicioso Pizza & Subs on Hamilton Street for 21 years.

Delicioso is just outside the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, but it is among 10 businesses getting grants funded by PPL and City Center for facade improvements.

"Hamilton Street is an important gateway to the downtown, so we felt it was important to renovate the stores that are along that gateway so as people come downtown they are seeing, they see the transformation not only around center square but up and down Hamilton Street," said JB Reilly, developer.

It's a transformation that's already taking place. The Hamilton Business Center, featuring class A office space, was the first to receive a facade grant.

The Hamilton Main Street program is working closely with Pete Lewnes, the architect for Seventh Street's facade program.

So far, Seventh Street has put up 50 new facades and counting.

"We have really been able to stabilize the community, the facades, add the foundation to the block. Basically, it's the bricks and mortar on the street. It also helps in an economic restructuring the way where is new businesses come in you get to give them the best face forward," said Lewnes.

Cantania said he is excited about the changes to downtown, especially now that they extend further along Hamilton Street.

"We have been seeing a lot of the attention focusing more downtown, so it's nice to get some attention back here," said Catania.

The Hamilton Street program has been up and running since last year.

Reilly said he is confident that by the fall, the transformation on Hamilton will be in full swing.

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