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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Is Lou "Pay to Play" Pektor Overextended?

On September 11, fifth anniversary of the day we were attacked at Twin Towers, the Guv' was in Bethlehem, joined by a wide array of local political hacks. They weren't reflecting on the loss of 2,749 lives at our WTC just five short years before. Instead, they were slapping each other on the back in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the Riverport, elegant one and two bedroom condos designed to attract artsy-fartsys and Jersey commuters. Pennsylvania invested $2.5 million to get this project off the ground. Northampton County kicked in another mil.

And the center of attention was Lou Pektor, whose Ashley Development Corp. also picked up $1.75 million in state money to redevelop Pomeroy's in downtown Easton.

Lou "Pay to Play" Pektor has been quite generous to Lehigh Valley politicians, especially incumbents. Since 2000, Team Pektor has invested $75,000 in politicians seeking state office.

Cha ching! He's given state senator Lisa Boscola alone at least $20,950.

But for those of you who may be Republicans, don't worry. He drops the bucks on your boys, too. He's spent $46,800 on mostly Republican candidates seeking federal office.

But that gravy train may be coming to an end. According to a Morning Call report, three of his condo projects in Easton are floundering.

Even more disturbing is what has happened to a 75 acres tract in Bushkill Township, which he just purchased earlier this year. Unable to make payments on a $2 million private mortgage, he surrendered that property last week.


Anonymous said...

couldn't happen to a nicer guy. This is the guy who wanted a 10 year break on property taxes for Martin Towers. Let him drown. He belongs in a jail cell with Mendelson

Anonymous said...

Lou Pektor is a theif and troll. Perhaps he should relocate to New Mexico where he and his family have also been donating to Bill Richardson for prez--check it on FEC--i'm sure it is for helping to elect the first Latino president!

Anonymous said...

Lou Pektor is a theif and troll.

To people who can heavily fund elected officials, 'illegal' is only a sick bird. But what are YOU going to do about it?


Anonymous said...

Ashley (his daughter's name) Development owned by Lou Pektor and Leo DeLong has done marvelous things in my fair city, lowly Bethlehem! Main Street Commons (former Orr's and Bush & Bull) restored to original facade and retail operations. Same now with building across the street. Up the street to Broad and New, the former American Hotel site (vacant lot for decades) is now great office/retail building (One East Broad). Riverport (vacant steel building for decades) & now 170 condos and retail, 180 Bethlehem Townhomes at Rt 412 and I-78, South side office and retail building at 3rd and Polk with another planned for across the street. Moravian area apartments, Farr's building at Broad and New and Martin Tower site will be next. Saint Ashley is one of Bethlehem's best, is my opinion! We should not care who he contributes to, non-profits not mentioned, and/or politicians! Also, we should not care where Ashley legally garners funds or tax relief to get results tax monies government or whereever, and not forget Ashley uses their own money as well? Ashley needs plaudits for their efforts in my fair city, not condemnation! Same with your community! larry@kisslinger.com

Anonymous said...

couldn't agree with larry more (which is rare for me). pektor has a history of taking on challenging projects that other developers pass on. everyone screams about, and is usually ok with, farmland preservation funding. what most of these folks don't get is that redeveloping our brownfields, which almost always requires government assistance, is equally important, and saves open space as well.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify Larry Kisslinger's comment, Leo DeLong is not a partner with Lou Pektor in Ashley Development. Leo Delong, President of Bucks Development, does partner with Ashley on certain development projects and has designed and constructed many of the buildings admired by Larry in his blog.

Chris Casey said...

I don't believe Mr. Pektor is a thief, or a troll, but I do believe he is smart enough to do whatever he legally can to maximize his investments.
Sure, he did try to get Doug Reichley to introduce the Martin Towers tax break into the state house, but there was nothing illegal about it. Questionable ethics or motives? Sure, but nothing illegal.

Anonymous said...

Pektor deserves a lot of praise for what he has done so far. It takes a lot of money and work and confidence in a city to do that. Very few people can make that all happen

Bernie O'Hare said...

It also takes a lot of public bucks. Please, he's no white knight. He's a businessman, and he's here to make money. The money he spends on pols ensures that he gets handouts and favorable treatment.

I don't fault him for playing the game, but do note that he seems to have stretched himself too thin.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Lou Pektor to Mark Mendelson is like comparing Mother Teresa to Idi Amin. Take Lou Pector out of the picture and there are vacant lots all over Bethlehem. Like all entreprenuers, some of his ideas hit the bullseye, some miss...but he keeps trying and we are far better off with him, than without his type.

By the way, speaking of Mendelson, if I was a judge, I would sentence this schmuck to live on the 10th floor of the Americus Hotel, with no heat, no electricity, leaky ceilings, poor plumbing and rats and roaches for at least 18 months. For sustinence, give him food vouchers to "Sal's Spaghetti House" and for entertainment, he can go to the abandoned theater he used to own.

Ask Mayor Pawlawski who he would rather partner with.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Elected public officials should "partner" with the voters, not pay to play developers. They are looking after their bottom line, not that of any city. Don't kid yourself. While I don't subscribe to the sentiment that Pektor is a "thief," I do think his ability to influence elected officials needs to change. We need campaign finance reform. People who contribute to candidates should be banned from doing business with them in their official capacity for a certain period of time.

Anonymous said...


You seem to be accusing Pektor of "paying to play"; question: why were the corners of Broad and Main, Main and North, and Broad and New vacant for 30 years? Answer: because the city, the redevelopment authority and others did not know what they were doing. These are the same people who built a mall with no plan to place stores in it (MarketPlace), and who closed Broad Street to vehicular traffic. Some people don't know this (Larry knows) that they had a plan to demolish Main Street between Broad and Church, leaving only the C. Moravian Church.

I say we need more Lou Pektors not fewer. We need to encourage his type and just make certain we don't get Mendelsons. Once again - you have a great blog, but stay away from this subject, you seem to be struggling.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The whole point of my post is that Pektor seems to be struggling. That seems to be an indication that the real estate market is still in trouble, and I can personally attest to that.

It is only in the comments that we've drifted into "poay to play" and the public funding of private enterprise. I oppose it unless it is inner city and there are clawback provisions that guarantee jobs and higher tax ratables. And I believe that political donors should be barred from doing business with government entities.

I'm not accusing Pektor of "pay to play." It is factually very clear.

Thanks for the nice words re the blog.

WhetherVain said...

As I said in a Pektor bashing blog session back on Monday, September 25, 2006:
"If what Lou is doing isn't illegal, then maybe we all need to address the public/political mechanisms that permit him to do what we all seem to abhor."

BTW, I notice mention of prayers for Severson (coming from holymen Angle, Casey, & you Bernie ;-) in a more recent post.

I'll go on record as doing the same for Lou - hoping that he'll remain clean (and above reproach) in his wheelings/dealings while he continues to use his talents (shenanigans/loopholes) to enhance the LV.

Also, in that same prayer, I'll utter some ejaculations for our government officials who fail to tighten-up the laws permitting these "abuses".

Excuse me now while I go ejaculate!

Anonymous said...

"I oppose it unless it is inner city and there are clawback provisions that guarantee jobs and higher tax ratables."

Isn't this exactly what the Allentown Brew Works project has promised, and so far delivered (I know, taxes won't come in for three years yet). How many times have you criticized this project Bernie.

You have become a constant critic and ironically it appears you may have grown to be the biggest critic of even yourself.

Chris Casey said...

Yikes! Whethervain called me a holyman! My parents would be pleased, that those 4 years at St. Charles Borromeo weren't wasted!
The real estate market is in trouble because certain mortgage lenders got creative, and now the banks that own many of these questionable loans are holding homes that borrowers have defaulted on, and there is no market for the homes to be resold.
A realtor acquantance of mine told me of three homes he knew of in the last 2 months that the owners had just up and moved out, abandoning the property.
There is a big crunch coming, when Americans will no longer be able to spend money they haven't earned yet to buy stuff they don't need.
The real estate market is ground zero. the shock waves have been deflected by the Fed playing with the money supply and interest rates, but the day of reckoning is coming, throw in rising fuel prices, and God help us, it might make the Depression look like a beach party.
Yeah, call me crazy, but right after Bush and Congress made it harder to file bankruptcy, many credit card companies expanded their offerings to those at the higher risk end of the credit card spectrum. Like crack to an addict.
They are more than greedy, and guess who they will turn to when they get burned? The Taxpayers.
Yippee! Merry Christmas!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Isn't this exactly what the Allentown Brew Works project has promised, and so far delivered (I know, taxes won't come in for three years yet). How many times have you criticized this project Bernie.

I don't think so. I am unaware of any clawback agreements under which ABW owners agree to repay public grants if it fails to produce x number of jobs that pay a living wage. I am also unaware of any agreement that money will be repaid unless the assessment increases by x dollars. Please direct me to these agreements. I don't think they exist. Also, as you point out, no taxes are being paid at all on this property, which is in a KOZ.

As far as my criticism of the ABW goes, what I've criticized is Allentown officials and other cheerleaders who pander to this publicly-funded business venture while ignoring or snarking legitimate businesses along hamilton Street that actually pay their taxes.

I do oppose public funding of private enterprise. I can understand it is the inner cities, but only when those clawbacks are there. i doubt they are in place.

Anonymous said...

Under the terms of the HUD loan ABW received they are required to hire a certain % (50 I believe) of low-income an minority workers at a prevailing wage, which they do.

These terms also applied to the construction of the facility itself. Contrary to what the fear mongers predicted they are having no problem making their payments.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 4:28, Thanks for that info. Although that's really not a clawback, it goes a long way towards making me feel better about all that public money. It's important that a developer or business be held accountable. Whether it's Easton, Bethlehem or Allentown, there has been far too little if that. The public investment should result in jobs and/or a higher tax base. And if it does not, the money should be returned. Mnay states now insist on this.

Also, I'm happy to hear ABW is doing well. I don't think I ever criticized ABW specifically, but have criticized all the pandering, especially at a time when other business in that area is suffering.

Anonymous said...

I believe it is way too early to say the ABW is a success.