The median annual household income of those residents ranges from
$13,911 to $30,913.

Seventy-one percent of the housing is occupied by renters; only 29 percent is owner-occupied.

“We’re starting in this area, but we have plans for the whole city," said City Council member Joe Davis, who attended the gathering. “You need a starting point.”

No overview

A program about the plan was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday with an overview presented in City Council chambers.

That didn’t happen.

At about 6:15 p.m., a half dozen people waiting for the program to begin were told there would be no presentation in the meeting room.

Everyone was directed to six stations along the corridor outside council chambers, each focusing on a different aspect of revitalization.

Taped on windows at each station were maps of the target area and lists of priorities for Allentown’s revitalization.

At each station, participants were encouraged to place two red dots on what they consider the greatest priorities.

They also were able to write additional priorities on easels at each spot. A skate park and shelters for families were just two of the many added priorities.

Some recommendations will be incorporated into the plan, which was distributed but it still labeled as a draft.

The mayor said Wednesday night’s gathering was the first release of the whole plan. “It’s the first time it’s been shown that combines all the elements together.”

Although only 29 people attended, Pawlowski called it a good turn-out,
saying: “It’s tough to get people to come out for events like this.”

Pawlowski to seek corporate partners

The mayor explained part of the solution for center city is to create opportunities for investment in more properties, including more home ownership, plus other economic development, job creation and blight remediation.

The mayor said the city has been developing the comprehensive plan for many months and already has gotten input from neighborhood groups and other community organizations.

In early March, Pawlowski announced the city plans to spend $2.5 million to help revitalize those neighborhoods. On Wednesday he called that “a small amount” compared to what will be needed.

He explained completion of the plan will give Allentown the ability to win a designation so it can seek more money for revitalization improvements through the state’s Keystone Communities Program.

He said that designation won’t guarantee the city will get grants or loans available though that program, “but it puts us at the top of the list.”

The mayor also said the city will approach corporations – he mentioned PPL as one example – to see if they are willing to “commit some significant dollars” to help revitalize center-city neighborhoods.

“If we go to PPL, I want PPL to know that we have skin in the game,”
said the mayor, referring to the $2.5 million.

“We’re not just going there for a handout. We’re also putting dollars on the table. We’re going there to say ‘we can make a significant impact on this neighborhood, which will benefit everybody. We would like you to be a partner with us. It will benefit you as a major employer downtown.’”

He said those corporations are going to want to see a significant plan that will clearly show the benefits of both short- and long-term improvements in the city.

Dots show priorities