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Urban Revitalization in Allentown Receives National Coverage in The Atlantic

By Andrew Kleiner on October 6, 2014

In an ongoing series for The Atlantic on urban revitalization, author John Tierney recently focused on the burgeoning developments at the Allentown Waterfront. Previous installments analyzed the NIZ spurred developments in Center City, the opening of the PPL Center, Allentown’s landmark water deal, the success of IronPigs baseball and Coca-Cola Park, and a journey on the streets of Allentown.

This series of stories is focused on the successes and difficulties associated with the revitalization of downtowns as part of the American Futures series. Focusing on Allentown to begin this series should come as no surprise to residents of the Lehigh Valley. The massive developments in Center City Allentown are but one, albeit highly recognized chapter, of the continued redevelopment and revitalization narrative the region has been a part of.

After the closing of Bethlehem Steel in the 1990’s, the Lehigh Valley saw vacant industrial properties in urban areas become commonplace. With the vision of regional leadership, these properties have become development targets and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has been leading the way to see these developments to fruition.

LVEDC, through its revitalization initiative, Lehigh Valley Land Recycling (LVLRI), has assisted developers with the assessments needed to bring many vacant industrial properties back to job-creating life. LVLRI helped ArtsQuest come to life in Bethlehem and Coca Cola Park in Allentown. LVLRI assistance has helped the former Schoen’s building has become the focus of new tech jobs in downtown Allentown as the headquarters of Trifecta Technologies.

With national focus now centered on the Allentown Waterfront, LVLRI is again helping make these developments happen. Last year, LVLRI secured $466,250 in PA’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener grant program to help the Waterfront development progress.  LVLRI is also actively assisting other catalytic brownfield revitalization projects, such as the Simon Silk Mill in Easton. Brownfield revitalization is often thought of as “the hard work of economic development” but as the recent LVEDC strategic plan lays out, LVEDC remains firmly committed to urban & city revitalization going forward. ?

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