The purpose of focusing on just two areas of Allentown for improvement with the NIZ district was that spreading the money across too many areas of the city would end up having very little impact. The idea animating this strategy is that if you improve the city center you’ll boost land values around the city center and just outside of it, and then you’ll start to see some organic redevelopment activity in response to those higher land values, both inside and outside the NIZ.
This new facade improvement grants program for the areas just outside the NIZ isn’t a bad idea or anything, but why the focus on buildings outside the NIZ? Many of the buildings inside the NIZ are still quite crappy. Stick to the plan to improve those buildings first:
The partnership’s first initiative 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, Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced.
“The mission of this new partnership is to make the neighborhoods around the NIZ more inviting to encourage new businesses, residents and visitors,” Pawlowski said. “In other words, the partnership aims to create direct economic benefits to the community surrounding the NIZ.”
The phase will focus on improving 15 to 30 facades in the next two years with an average grant size of $15,000. Other districts of the city will be supported as the program grows and more private investors offer funds, Pawlowski said.