Last year I said I thought a high quality wedding venue would be a great addition to downtown Allentown, and lo and behold Jaindl Properties LLC is doing it. The reuse of the beautiful Lehigh Valley Trust Co. building, built in 1910, is especially awesome, and I think it’s a testament to the power of the NIZ tax district to spur not only new construction, but adaptive reuse of older historic buildings downtown. Read about Jaindl’s plan here.
To reiterate the reason why I think a wedding venue will be good for downtown is that it will bring more business to the whole supply chain involved in weddings:
The reason is that weddings are great for a wide range of local businesses, and a quality wedding venue could help deliver more demand for the kinds of non-tradeable services that Allentown is hoping to attract to the downtown area – florists, caterers, restaurants and bars, hotels, etc. Some people have been doubting that there’s enough demand locally to support a full-on revitalization of center city Allentown, or that the hockey arena will deliver enough spillover demand for the non-tradeables sector. Maybe so, but that means we need to start thinking of other ways to increase exports aka tourism. Weddings are one way to get more out-of-town money into the Allentown economy.
One sector that would definitely benefit from this is the hotel sector. Right now there’s a lot of worrying that there won’t be enough visitors to fill the 552 hotel rooms Allentown is about to have in a few years. If the city had a popular wedding venue, people would be regularly booking large blocks of rooms at a time, providing a steadier stream of income for the hotels than they can currently count on. What other kinds of businesses might bring in a lot of visitors at once to fill the hotels?