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.