Hanover Withdraws NIZ Lawsuit

One final word on the NIZ fight now that Hanover withdrew their lawsuit.

What’s been interesting in the coverage of all these lawsuit withdrawals is that nobody’s talking about what had become the biggest issues toward the end of the debate:

1. that Allentown office rents would be so low they’d poach suburban tenants

2. that the NIZ land area was too big, esp. the waterfront

3. that it will hurt developer interest in more greenfield development in the suburbs

None of the articles mention this stuff, but the townships and suburban developers lost bad on all counts. Steve Thode’s doomsday prophecy about a shift in investment flows from the periphery to the core (an unabashed benefit in my view) still appears quite likely to come to pass.

It’s all good news to me, but I just think its weird that nobody’s talking about how the townships’ biggest complaints toward the end were not addressed at all in the state budget.

Let the poaching begin!


  1. I think most of those “concerns” are nonsense anyway. Places like Hanover still have the advantages they did…close to transportation and where people want to live. The idea that businesses are going to relocate to Allentown for slightly lower rents is unlikely, given the overall higher costs of doing business in a city. With a couple oversold exceptions, none of this conversation has much to do with actual “demand” for buildings in Allentown.

    Everytime I see that “waterfront” I’m puzzled what everyone is so excited about. Renovating the Neuweiler Building to purpose is an absolute money pit. Lucasfilm did the same with a building that had just been occupied in San Francisco and it was still plenty expensive.

    The most important thing for the townships was to get off the “blame line” for that project. Allentown now owns it, so if the arena falls short of the “200 events a year” its going to be harder to go hat in hand to surrounding communities. From that perspective (regionalism) Allentown has a major lost opportunity, and strangely enough NO ONE has discussed what the actual fallout of the financing changes is.

  2. Jon Geeting says:

    But the costs of doing business in a city aren’t higher…

    It’s also not clear that Hanover is where people will want to live in the future.

    • The costs are most certainly higher.

      You’ve driven up construction costs in the NIZ by 30% due to Davis Bacon requirements, property taxes are higher, and commuting costs are higher because of parking fees (please don’t tell people to take a bus, a CPA working for Buckno Lisicky is not going to stand by the side of the road and wait).

      • Jon Geeting says:

        I’m all for lowering *property* taxes to zero, and raising all city revenue from the land value tax. Would certainly bring down rents, since landowners couldn’t pass the tax along to tenants. Parking’s not a cost to the firm, it’s a cost to the individual. Individuals decide how they want to get to work, how much it matters to them to park close by, etc.

  3. I do agree with you on your core point – regionalism is dead and it’s every man/woman/town for themselves. Why you’re happy about this I’m really not sure.

    The biggest travesty coming out of this is that when Browne, Pawlowski, Mann, and Jennings were presented with an historic opportunity to take the entire Lehigh Valley forward, they fucked it up royally.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Township politicians have the agency to choose not to make policy out of pique. But Joe’s right. The regional outlook never was there in the townships. Regionalism is a nice feel-good buzzword that basically means “get the townships to stop the beggar-thy-neighbor land use policies.” It’s not going to happen

      • So the Township should do what the city did not? In your view, act responsibly?

        Joe is wrong as are you. We already have regionalization in terms of water/sewer systems and economic development and Chamber/business interests.

        The townships do not support your version of regionalization to be sure (we don’t want to be bent over a barrel as you’ve advocated doing many times), but working together was on everyone’s mind – until now.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          The townships were never down with a regional tax base, regional public services or regional land use planning. That’s the core of the regionalism agenda. And no, there is no regionalization of water – there are 40 different pubicly-owned water and wastewater systems.

          • When is the last township meeting you attended? Who do you talk to that lives in one of the townships?

            You sit in NYC and lecture, but you don’t know who or what you’re talking about. Then you get angry when we stand up for ourselves.

            Please try to learn the facts before lecturing more. Go to a meeting. Actually listen to someone who lives in the townships and disagrees with you.

  4. joebethlehem says:

    The actual financial fallout of the changes to the NIZ legislation was addressed in the local papers and the impact was determined to be negligible. Sure the township’s EIT would have been a nice way for everyone to say we’re all in this together but the NIZ was never dependent on that component of the financing.

    Regionalism never existed in teh first place.

  5. Do I go to the spam folder???

    I don’t think regionalism is dead. The project was not a good one to begin with, and for a city supposedly led by a political up-and-comer, it wasn’t sold very well. If you don’t buy the first car you are shown on the lot, it doesn’t make you against auto ownership.

    Joe, I wouldn’t say the issue was dealt with at all. Either the money included in the bill because it was needed, or it was all just a big joke. The Morning Call may have written a sentence on it, but I’d like to see 1) what money was anticipated to be there now and in 5, 10, 15 years–and 2) how much was counted on after the Phantoms stop paying rent.

    Working in Allentown has a lot of disadvantages that raise its costs–lack of access to transit routes being one of them. While some businesses may move to Allentown–I certainly hope they do, many more are going to want to stay near their customers because slightly lower rent isn’t going to equal the disruption.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      No, Rocky Balboa’s in the Spam folder. I have a pretty good sense of humor about all this and don’t mind people objecting passionately, but I’m over giving anonymous dudes a platform to call me a poopy mouth. Act like a human.

  6. Ay-dree-en!!!!!!

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