Friday, May 23, 2014

Let them Booze

The Morning Call is reporting that Tunes at Twillight will no longer be BYOB.  This is just puritanical hand wringing.  Is there any proof that alchohal has created dangerous stuations?  If not, let people have their freedom.  Open container policy brings crowds of people to Bethlehem during music fest, Central Park in New York, and along river walk in Savanah, GA.  People love the freedom to have a drink and take a stroll.  Don't restrict that, in fact encourage it.

If liability is the real concern, then sell BYOB wrist bands.  The proceeds of the sale would be to purchase lability insurance.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Good Day for a Win: Rose Garden will not be Bulldozed

The express Times reports that the Bethlehem Rose Garden will not be bulldozed to make room for a temporary parking lot.  Good news for anyone who cares about public space! Also, a special shout out to Cathy Reuscher, the only Bethlehem Council Member with the good common sense to oppose the plan in committee.  Hopefully the administration of all our core cities take notice of what went down in West Bethlehem: we are done making way for cars to destroy our public spaces.

Build More (Densly)

A string of interesting newspaper articles today.  First this from the Morning Call reporting that Whitehall was not able to build a new loft-style apartment complex because of restrictive parking zoning regulations.  Once again, the thing that stops development, the thing that limits an increase in density is some primal obsession with accommodating the automobile.  This has got to end.  Municipalities need to change their mind set to understand that in the 21st century, population groups are going to demand workable cities which means density.  Cars (and policies meant to accomodate cars) are going to have to play second fiddle or not at all.

Then, a second article from the Call reporting that the Valley real estate market is heating up again.  Good!  But instead of doing more farmland conversions, lets think about redeveloping our core cities and changing zoning ordinances to permit greater urban density.  This is the message both from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.  The NIZ is doing amazing things for commerical real estate in downtown Allentown, but, the itself does not provide an incentive for residential development.  For the downtown to be a true success, residential developers are going to have to start moving middle class folks downtown to both live and work.

Think that is a pipe dream, not so fast.  The New York Times just had a front page article today indicating that for most people, the economics are now such that it is cheaper to rent than to buy.  The Valley's core cities should double down on this good news and encourage the development of mid-rise and high-rise apartments.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Great Entertainment Lineup Coming to Allentown

I don't think that it would be possible to have a better entertainment line up coming to Allentown this Summer.  First, there are the Eagles.  Enough said.  Number one best selling band of all time.  It was a hell of a get for a mid size city, but it just goes to show how powerful the draw of the new arena is.

What about all the talk that people will be too afraid to come to the downtown with all of its drugs and gangs and what not.  Once again, an utter myth spread by a few haters.  The arena actually had to suspend sales during the American Express advance ticket purchase window because they were going sell out before tickets could be purchased by the general public.  Then, once they did go on sale, they sold out in under two hours.  That's a huge show of support for the downtown.

The next show is Cher.  I'm not a huge fan myself, but over on the WFMZ website there were about 20 comments with people from all walks of life absolutely psyched about the show---and not just that---but about the fact that Cher was coming to their own backyard.  That's what the NIZ is all about, making Allentown vibrant enough that the town is self supporting of everything you need to live.

And, finally, it was just announced that a rodeo is also coming to town.  I think that's great.  The lehigh valley is still, in many ways a rural and agricultural place.  Just like the Great Allentown Fair, the rodeo ties people in the city to the country side.  Its a great throw back.

At this point, it is getting harder and harder for the haters to hate.  Allentown is coming back stronger than ever.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Transportation Tuesday: the Rosegarden and LVCI Doubling Down on Stupidity

A quick note about the concept of Transportation Tuesday.  I think that by any measure, any sane person would admit that the non-car transportation infrastructure in the Lehigh Valley is absolutely attrocious.  Not only that, but virtually nothing has been done to improve that fact.  This while cities all over the U.S. are preparing for a time when the car will no longer be king.  For reasons of consonance, I am picking Tuesday to browbeat public officials about the fact that they ought to be making better transportation choices.

Enough said about the philosophy, lets talk politics.  This week's Transportation Tuesday post considers the news out of West Bethlehem that the city is about to bulldoze under part of the rose garden to make room for a temporary parking lot for a middle school.  Are you fucking kidding me?!  Martin Towers and its massive parking lots are less than a mile from the site that this about to happen.  Why not make the teachers park at Martin Tower and walk in.  Hell, the kids walk further than that to get to school.  Here is my whole article about the situation.  Like it or not bulldozing under the rose garden for a temporary parking lot is the type of trade off you have to make when you run a town where you value the car more importantly than any other mode of transportation.  There can be no clearer and more causal link of cars destroying public space and undermining urban aesthetics than BULLDOZING A ROSE GARDEN to make way for a PARKING LOT.  Dumb.  And this from a city that calls it self the most walkable in the Valley.  Jokes.
Bike Infrastructure in Europe.

And then there is this from the ever assinine LVCI:  Urbanologists without Cars.  In a bit of crack reporting, LVCI runs down all the ways in which it is inconvenient to live in the Valley without a car.  No shit? tell us more!  From this he concludes that we should double down on car infrastructure.  Whoaaa there Spartacus.  Us "urbanologists" want to change the development patterns so that a car is not required.  We want to live in a downtown where there are parks, and vets, and doctors, and all that stuff you mention in walking distance.  That is our promised land.  We don't have that now because people like LVCI thought it would be good to structure the world in such a way that you NEEDED a car to get to essential services.  Good (maybe) if you are wealthy an live in the 'burbs.  Bad if you are poor and in a city and need access to stuff like, I don't know, food.  My grandparents, (probably like LVCI's) lived in Allentown and they got along fine without a car.  This isn't some mythical utopia we are vying for, just a workable city that existed pretty well in Allentown for a long time.

Monday, May 19, 2014

What Social Equality Looks Like to Millenials

A few days ago, someone in the comment section accused this blog (and Job Geeting) of asking big government for a hand out.  That's absurd.  As I replied, this blog (and Jon Geeting's which proceeded it), is largely premised on the fact that government ought to deregulate the housing market by stopping absurd subsidies to wasteful suburbs.  That is exactly what has happened in Allentown.  As I pointed out yesterday, Allentown has created a real estate free market where tax money flows back to developer to be used to finance the construction of new real estate.  That and minimal zoning restrictions has allowed Allentown to amass nearly a BILLION dollars of real estate investment.  Like I said, Allentown should be the wet dream of free market republicans and the libertarians.

What does this have to do with social equality?  Well, a strong case can be made that starting in the 1950s, the federal government and states undertook a conscious effort to segregate minorities in cities from the Lilly white suburbs.  If you read the transcripts of the senate debate about the mortgage interest tax deduction, Southern Democrats actually note that a benefit of the program will be to help middle class white folks escape "animals" in the cities.  Yikes, (bad quote isn't it Bernie? lol).  The fact is that the suburbs received TRILLIONS of dollars of tax subsidy over the years in a process that was meant to segregate a white middle class suburban majority from minorities who were to be left in cities.  Don't believe me, try to remember how the media depicted cities in the 1980s, you know when Philadelphia fire bombed a residential block or the film "Escape from New York."
Oh look, a black guy with a gun and a chain.

Now, I will concede that there were social programs around the edges to try to help populations left in cities.  But, here is the thing, I think most millennials are willing to concede that in many cases, government programs are ineffective.  Social programs are often a band aid over a much, much larger cultural problem.  What was that problem in America---it was racism that led to an incredibly unfair housing policy that sent middle class folks to the suburbs with their money and their cultural institutions.  The cities were left to rot with strongly derided "social programs" providing a modicum of relief.  When these social programs failed, the middle class sneered even harder form their suburban fiefdoms.

How to fix the problem?  Ronnie Reagan maybe got something right, maybe, sometimes government is the problem.  That is why Allentown's free market, zoning-light NIZ district is such a big deal.  For the first time, in a long time, it is encouraging people to come back to the city.  It is only when the middle class returns to Allentown, with their tax money and philosophy of stable civic organizations, that things are going to turn around for everyone in Allentown.

This is not to say that millennials are some sort of uber-generation bent entirely on social equality.  They want cities because cities are cool and interesting places to live.  But, here is the thing, they don't demand a lilly white playground like the suburban white flightiers before them.  And because of that single important fact everyone's ship in a city will rise.  By ignoring race and class, rather than dwelling on it, the millenials will do more for everyone than the previous generations could even dream.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Its Official: One Billion Dollars of Development

Its hard to know where to start on an article like this.  The idea that Allentown, Pennsylvania could have brought in nearly a billion dollars of investment money even five years ago would have been laughable.  The city was on the ropes.  Not anymore.  Now Allentown is the place to be, its the place to go out, and pretty soon it is going to be the place to live.

The first place to start might be to address some of the negative criticisms.  There are a lot of questions about what will happen after the NIZ run outs.  First off, that is a long way down the road.  The NIZ is in place for 30 years and will drive development during that entire time.  Why?  First, you need an explanation of how the NIZ works.  The law is complicated, but essentially this is how it goes:

1.  NIZ taxpayers pay their rent as normal.

2.  That local and state taxes are sequestered at the state level and returned to the ANIZDA board.

3.  ANIZDA uses the money to pay off the construction loans of the new development.

When you zoom out, what the NIZ is really doing is creating a free market, it is saying, if you build within the geographical boundaries of this zone, you can use your own money to finance the construction of your own building---the state will bow out of the market.  That's smart.  That's a free market---that what hardcore Republicans and libertarians have been gunning for for years.  People like J.B. Rilley couldn't compete with all the tax breaks and incentives that had previously been going to the 'burbs, but, because Allentown now has a free market, he (and other developers can compete).

The consequence:  ONE BILLION DOLLARS in investment.  The best part is, there is no way the tax payers are left holding the bag.  Once the NIZ ends, tax revenue is returned to the state---the new real estate development should be totally financed by that point.

Once again, this is a huge win for Allentown.  Haters are gonna hate but they are now in the minority.  My generation, the millennials, want vibrant cities.  For all we care, the strip malls of suburbia and McMansions ought to decay into dust---it would look better anyway.

Great job Allentown.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Energy Costs and Land Use

Every time that I see an article about energy costs, it makes me glad that I live in a city.  I predict that my energy usage is probably less than 25% of a normal Americans.  Why, is it because I change my everyday life to live without?  Nope.

Living in shared space (an apartment / condo) in a larger building is inherently energy efficient.  Even more so if there is shared heat / water.  The fact that I don't need a car means that there is no car payment, no oil changes, no need to buy gasoline.  That's the benefit to walking.

So, for the city dweller, a change in energy costs means next to nothing.  For Joeanne Six Pack heating and cooling her exurban McMansion and driving everywhere, well, a small change means big hurt.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Transportation Tuesday: Nitschmann Middle School Parking

Last week, the Morning Call had an interesting opinion piece from the forever hard-nosed Paul Carpenter about a parking situation developing over at Nitschmann Middle School.  Apparently, the School District is doing some renovations at the school that will require that part of the existing parking lot is torn up and made unusable for parking.

The current solution to the problem will be to open up areas of the Bethlehem Rose garden for parking.  In the process several large trees will be removed and teacher's cars will be parked in the garden.  Carpenter, channeling his inner Joni Mitchell, disapproves of the idea.

Initially I though that Mr. Carpenter was (as he is sometimes prone to do) overreacting, but the thing just stuck in my craw.  Then, I realized why.  Tearing up a beautiful (and well used) rose garden to accommodate parking is just one more concession that our cities are asked to make in favor of the car.  When are we going to stop and say to ourselves, hey, we are serious when we say that our community should be walkable.  We are serious that walking, biking, and shared transportation should be the first things that come to mind when we are confronted by a transportation problem.

Martin Tower (and its large surface parking lots) is less than half a mile from the middle school.  What is the harm in asking the teachers to walk (or if the school district wants to---run a shuttle).  I walk a mile or so a day to get to and from my home to work.  It keeps be slim.  My grandmother walked everyday from 9th and Tilhman to 7th and Hamilton to get to her job.  And, I bet a lot of the middle school kids have to walk even further to get to school.  Why is it that once you become a teacher you shouldn't have to walk a mile in the kids' shoes.  These are the people setting the example for how we ought to be living in our communities and that example ought to include walking for the sake of the community and health.
I know that this seems like a small thing, but every single time our cities are asked to chose between walking or a car they are pressured into accommodating the car.  Its time to stop it.  And its time to say publicly---that's it, the era of the car-centric city, is at an end.  We are serious about sacrificing a bit of car comfort to make our city more beautiful, more walkable, and healthier.  I hope that city council takes action against the destruction of the rose garden and clearly says why the car in no longer king in Bethlehem.

New Allentown Video

Sure, its a fluff piece, but it looks great!

Changing Landscape of Valley Real Estate Development

Suburban Death
This article is exactly what the new urbanists have been saying for years---what we need is more housing, but in already existing neighborhoods.  This necessarily means more mixed use, more density, and more walkability.  It means refocusing attention into the downtown because that is where these goals can be more easily realized.  It is absolutely amazing to see real estate professionals in the Valley finally talking about non-suburban models of growth.

Molovinsky on Minorities

Mr. Molovinsky has another interesting piece ostensibly about race politics today. As has been the constant refrain for years now, opponents of the downtown redevelopment are claiming that the NIZ is a tax grab that takes money out of the hands of minority residents and funnels it to wealthy developers and business people. At the same time, Mr. Molovinsky constantly opines about the "glory days" of Allentown. he loved when the community came together through the CCC to improve the city parks. He waxes nostalgic about the trolleys and shopping on Hamilton Street. Fine, but, you can't really have it both ways.

Allentown was once a great city because people from all classes pulled together. Through successive waves of immigration in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, older majority population groups (first the English and Germans) stayed in the city and continued to pay property taxes and maintain communal institutions as new immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe arrives. Its not like there wasn't friction---there was. But, by and large, Allentown became a thriving city because different ethnic groups and races were able to coexist and largely pull together.

Fast forward to the 1970s and 80s and the middle class abandoned Allentown to head to "greener pastures" in the `burbs. They took with them their money and their public institutions. Without property taxes and without people who cared about community institutions, Allentown withered on the vine.

Now, because of the NIZ, we start to have a nascent migration back to the city. We start to have money coming in, and we start to have middle class people regaining a consciousness of place. These are the steps to redeveloping the economic foundation of the city. And with that foundation secure, all ships (all races and classes will rise). The process won't be perfect there will be some friction around the edges, but Allentown needed a shot in the arm. Mr. Molovinsky is always championing for the status quo---that status quo has kept Allentown's head under the water for four decades. And yet, he also recognizes that the town once had greatness. And, it is obvious that he longs for that greatness once more. It is impossible to reconcile both good things without some friction.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Molovinsky Scoops the Food Desert

In a great post today, Molovinsky has scooped the fact that downtown Allentown's food desert may be coming to an end.  While I can't provide any independent verification of this fact, if true, it is absolutely great news for the neighborhood.

Existential Suburban Supermarket
As many readers know, I am often deeply at odds with the way in which Molovinsky try's to achieve his policy goals, but, you can never doubt his conviction that Allentown government policy ought to serve the working class and that is where his concern for the market arises from.

There might be no greater example of the fact that urban areas are going through a renaissance than the fact that food markets are once again opening up in them.  It is one of the saddest and most shameful moments in the middle-class flight to the 'burbs that the basic institutions of life were drawn out of cities.  These included things like grocers, clothing stores, hardware shops and all the rest of it.  But, the worst, from a human point of view was the loss of places to buy quality foods.

The result are vast areas of urban America that are only served by fast food restaurants and (possibly) bodegas that sell the worst kind of processed food crap.  Buying a head of lettuce might require several hours on a bus with multiple changes.  Before anyone moralizes about this fact, ask yourself, when was the last time I put in three hours of effort for a salad?
Old Time Downtown Market

One of the best things about living in a city is that you don not need a car to accomplish the daily things of life.  In fact, a lot of urban designers define cities by this metric:  can you reasonably (about 10 minutes) walk or ride a bike to the daily activities of life.  If the answer is no, you may have density but still lack a functioning city.  The opening of this market in Allentown and the Bethlehem Food Cooperative in Bethlehem show that middle class folks are once again focusing their attention into the downtowns.  They want actual workable cities---not just density.

Finally, one last observation.  What brought this supermarket into the downtown?  It was the NIZ.  Molovinsky claims that the rite aid used to serve the purpose of a market, that is ludicrous.  I have worked downtown for many years and knew that Rite aid well.  There were bags of candy and sports drink---not much else. THE NIZ, with its thousands of well payed workers are the ones with the money to create a demand for a market.  Money begets money and what Allentown has needed for a long time is a critical density of wealth to spur more and more development.  The NIZ has kick started that sort of development.  And this market is a great indication of how the government's investment is helping the little guy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Jon Geeting on Eliminating full stops for Cyclists

Making a twenty pound bicycle obey the exact same road rules as a two ton piece of machinery, a.k.a. an automobile is ridiculous.  No one in their right mind would set down to draft the same set of road laws for both bicycles and cars.  And, yet, through, habituation people have come to expect bikes to follow the same rules.  The result is that when bicyclists "break" the law safely (or for their own safety) they are criticized by yahoo motorists who think a violation of a ridiculous crime ought to carry moral approbation.  Stupid.  Jon Geeting has more on legalizing the rolling stop for bicyclists at this old city.

Also, check out this video by a real American hero.

Cher is Coming to Allentown

More on this tomorrow, but, the Morning Called just announced that Cher is coming to Allentown!

the NIZ and the Little Guy

One of the refrains that you hear again and again about the NIZ is that it is tax payer money being funneled by government to J.B. Reilly and other oligarch cronies.  I don't deny that because of the NIZ, J.B. Reilly is going to be a wealthy, wealthy, man.  But, there is nothing new about this.

For the previous sixty years, government policy and government tax dollars got thrown at the suburbs and subsidized the destruction of our beautiful farm lands and forests into dreadful McMansions.  If you don't think private developers got rich from this suburban development you are kidding yourself.

Government (and law) creates markets on which private money plays.  While the markets shift around, the fact that people get rich won't.  What we should be asking is if the market that is created creates and maintains the best type of society.

And, here is where I think the NIZ really shines. Yesterday the Morning call announced that Donny Petridis is moving a new restaurant into the downtown to service the thousands of new white collar workers who are soon going to be working there.  There is no getting around the fact that J.B. Reilly (who owns the building this restaurant is going into) and Petridis (the restraunteur) are wealthy dudes.  But, the employees of these restaurants aren't going to be so wealthy.  From the hostess to the waitstaff, to cooks, and dishwashers, this new restaurant is going to employ dozens of people at a living wage.

That is dozens of people working, having a sense of pride, off the government doll, off drugs, all the rest of it.  Isn't this exactly what we have been saying has been needed in Allentown for decades?  Guess what, its happening right now.  Whats more, these smaller ma and pa type service industries which support the larger commercial enterprise are home grown.  You can bet the majority of the staff are going to Allentownians and not poached from the 'burbs.  What accounts for the change, what made these good things possible?  The Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hegel, Alienation, and America's Loss of Place

A few years ago I was at an event with the then mayor of Whitehall.  The mayor lamented to me, saying, "I don't understand it, why does everyone talk about Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton in the same breath?  Why don't they mention Whitehall, we have more people than Easton!"  Half jokingly, I replied, "people might not think about Whitehall because its basically a three mile strip mall.  What else are you known for?"
Walmart in Whitehall

I tell this story to express a point.  In America, we are conditioned to think of social importance as emerging out of population numbers.  The more people, the greater the importance.  This might be true in a purely political sense, but, it does not capture how we actually think about social importance.  What is really important about social importance is perception.  For example, in the 17th century, the ideal of female beauty was much different from how it is today.  In that period, a curvaceous almost overweight figure was preferred.  Rotundity bought social cache.  Today, the opposite is true.  "Beauty" is not a fixed concept, it changes with what we use to talk about the ideal.

The same is true of population centers.  In an ontological sense, a populated place is just a collection of bricks and mortar and streets.  It assumes no identity until we start to tell stories about the place.  And, here, is where the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton begin to take on an important role in our imagination.  Growing up, my parents would tell me great stories about the halcyon days of Allentown.  When kids would go ice skating down at Union Terrace then then buy a hot dog at Yaccos.  The pride of the entire city going to a football match at the ASD stadium.  Shopping on Hamilton Blvd. and Hess's.  Walking to the fairgrounds and randomly meeting family and friends that stretched back to elementary school.

That was Allentown.  It had a character.  People talked (and still talk) about the character.  Despite my many misgivings about Mr. Molovinsky's ideas, his Romanticized rhetoric about the city is why I still respect him.  By contrast, you might ask, what do people say about whitehall?  There is a generic 1980s mall there.  What historical events happened there?  None that I can think of.  The place is a three mile strip mall, not much more.  Now you might say, yeah, but people live there.  People have individual memories in their own home.  True, I don't deny that.  But, when people don't interact, when they don't share communal institutions, group identities are not created.  And, the lack of a group identity ultimately leads to great swaths of this Commonwealth living alienated and isolated consumer driven lives.

Alienation is a hash word, but, its a pretty good description of early 21st century America.  It is the America inaugurated by Vonnegut and described in cruel detail by David Foster Wallace.  It is an America of the individual consumed by herself, her own needs, and her own entertainment.  It is a world, frankly, given over completely to the individual and the ego.  It is a world that tends toward the skeptical and the nihilistic.

G.W.F. Hegel

It is a world, however, that is not necessarily new or entirely modern.  Following Kant's "Copernican Revolution" many early 18th century German philosophers attempted to confront the idea of how to escape nihilism in a world devoid of God and constituted by individual consciousnesses.  The most successful of these German philosophers was Hegel.  Although his entire philosophical project is incredibly difficult and dense it boils down to a few main points, the most important of which is this: none of us is entirely free to determine everything in our own life, the way in which we perceive the world is colored by the community in which we live.  Happiness, freedom, and an escape from nihilism is obtained in living one's life in accordance with the spirit (identity) of the community.

Now, that might sound absolutely un-American, but, I don't think that it needs to be.  As an American, we have the right to live where we find a community that corresponds with our internal values.  And, we ought to be able to find distinctive communities that to a greater or lessor degree fit who we are.  Maybe, that place is Allentown, maybe it isn't.  But, for the vast, vast, vast majority of people, that place is not going to be the uniform blandness of the suburbs.
Roosevelt visits Allentown Speaks to Throngs of Citizens

Cities need to be given the chance to grow and develop distinct identities because it is only within an identity of place that individuals can also find their own purpose and connectedness.  We have tried the suburban model, it doesn't work.  Political communities must be more robust---there must be more shared institutions and interactions.  Until we overcome this problem of lack of sense of place Pennsylvania (and America) will continue to suffer from an anxiety of purpose and narcism of character.  Redeveloping mid-sized urban space would go a long way to solving these types of problems.

Monday, May 12, 2014

NIZ Refocuses Growth into Cities

There was more good news out of Allentown earlier this week.  The Morning Call reported that the major Lehigh Valley law firm Norris McLaughlin & Marcus is moving back downtown.  Norris McLaughlin is a firm with a nearly century long tradition in downtown Allentown.  The firm had been a fixture of the downtown until Corporate Plaza (where the firm was located in the early 1990s) fell into a sink hole on 7th street.

After the Corporate Plaza fiasco, the firm decided to move to a low-rise suburban office park in South Whitehall Township.  There they stayed until the lawyers were enticed back by low rents generated by Allentown NIZ tax district. This was another impressive victory for Allentown and proponents of urban growth, and should be seen for what it is---a return of a prominent Allentown law firm to it's rightful place in Allentown's urban core.

Of course, in this valley, no good deed goes unpunished.  The usual suspects were out blasting the downtown redevelopment.  Prominent amongst them, blogger Bernie O'Hare who, in typical fashion, claims that the movement of the law firm back to its historic home is some sort of money grab by J.B. Reily & Co.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Norris McLaughlin was forced out of its home by forces beyond its control.  The early 1990s were some of the bleakest for Allentown and prime real estate was scare.  They moved because state tax policies and municipal law subsidized sprawl development and made suburban office space artificially cheap.

But, the NIZ changes that.  It, for the first time, gives Allentown a fighting chance to play on an even footing.  If Bernie wants to claim that Allentown "stole" Norris McLaughlin, he better be willing to admit that South Whitehall stole them first.

Its great to see another Allentown institution return to its rightful home.

And, where does Bernie get off saying that this is only beneficial to the Developer.  It is beneficial to the hot dog vendors, the pizza guys, the dry cleaners, the shops on Hamilton.  It helps everyone who was hurt when these attorneys stopped coming in for lunch or having a suit pressed back in the early 90s.  It especially help's the firms clients who no longer have to pay their attorneys to drive to the courthouse to file pleadings.  The NIZ is designed to help those who need the most help, the ma and pa shops inAllentown who were gutted by the middle class scurrying to the 'burbs.