Allentown’s progress was detailed in a report presented at the institute’s spring meeting in Philadelphia. The report profiled Allentown as one of six transforming communities around the nation and listed ingredients that must be in place for smaller urban communities to transform themselves.
A global nonprofit, the Urban Land Institute provides leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.
City Center Lehigh Valley’s Jim Harbaugh helped the institute develop the case study. City Center has been the primary redeveloper of property in Allentown’s downtown.
He said the institute has been tracking Allentown’s progress for the past couple of years.
He noted that ULI’s report reflected on downtown Allentown’s innovative state funding tool, the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, which according to the institute report “allowed state tax receipts to remain downtown and bankroll new construction of offices, a hotel, retail shops and an arena. Strong local developers and business leadership were pivotal in embracing the new vision.
“Capitalizing on the city’s competitive advantages, Allentown is enhancing the entire Lehigh Valley region.”
The report also cited a strong emphasis on public/private partnerships as key in the transformation of Allentown’s downtown.
“I think they have it right,” Harbaugh said. He said the report also recognized the emphasis on mixed-use properties and leadership from the business community.
Harbaugh said some of the large businesses that chose to locate in the downtown were an important part of making the City Center development a success.
“They’re not just tenants. They’re partners,” he said.
The other cities profiled are East Liberty (a Pittsburgh neighborhood); Greenville, N.C.; Sugar Land, Texas; a neighborhood in Cincinnati; and Orland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.
For the full report click HERE.