Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski joined executives from National Penn Bank and its KNBT division, PPL and others yesterday to celebrate the third year of the Allentown Neighborhood Development Alliance, an initiative to strengthen a key downtown Allentown neighborhood. The event was held at Casa Latina Restaurant at 527 North 7th Street in Allentown, which was one of the beneficiaries of this initiative. ANDA enhances the Main Street Program operated by the Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown and the Elm Street Program operated by the Old Allentown Preservation Association.
Fueled in part by tax credits from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, National Penn has contributed $512,750 to date and PPL has contributed $225,000. The two corporations anticipate providing an additional $243,875 per year over the next three years to support the Allentown Neighborhood Development Alliance (ANDA).
Alan Jennings, Executive Director of Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, said “The investments being made in Old Allentown by National Penn, through its KNBT division, and PPL are paying visible dividends and, with those dividends, generating hope among the residents. That is a combination that is sure to strengthen the neighborhood and the entire city.”
This year, the Main Street Program received $88,500, of which $55,000 will support residential and commercial façade incentive grants. These grants encourage residents and business owners to improve the appearance of their properties, increasing the area’s attractiveness and foot traffic to boost property values and business sales. Streetscape projects received $7,500 and $6,000 was provided to professional services to create a clean and safe environment and promote a positive image of Seventh Street. This year’s streetscape projects will include new, specially-designed bicycle racks as well as fresh plantings for the gardens and planters that line 7th Street. The decorative trash cans that were installed by the program two years ago are being given facelifts. The remaining $20,000 covers part of the staffing necessary to carry out these projects.
The Elm Street Program received $78,000. Residential and commercial façade restoration projects will benefit from an infusion of $38,000, and an additional $10,000 supports physical improvements throughout the neighborhood such as brick paving, pedestrian lighting, tree planting and the installation of tree surrounds. Marketing and professional services each received $5,000. The remaining $20,000 is used to cover part of the staffing of OAPA, including its executive director.
To connect the Elm Street and Main Street Programs, $20,000 was allocated to fund physical improvements on the 700 block of Gordon Street including the addition of 32 trees and improving residential facades.
In addition to assisting these neighborhood revitalization efforts, $10,000 of the National Penn and PPL funding supports the Community Action Development Corporation’s (CADCA) Start Your Business classes. This 20-week program is designed to guide individuals through the process of starting and operating a successful small business.
Finally, $24,500 was committed to constructive engagement of teens in the neighborhood. Funds have been distributed for use at the Allentown Public Theater, Fire Bird Theater, and to provide a $700 Arts Ovation Scholarship. Future projects such as healthy foods cooking classes, a youth resource fair, a children’s garden and a summer teens program are in the planning stages. In order to keep the programs running, $22,875 is being used for overall administrative expenses and to leverage additional sources of funding.
Congratulations to all of the organizations involved in this initiative for a job well done! Be sure to keep up with the changes in downtown Allentown by following the 7th Street Blog or finding them on Facebook.