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Friday, June 27, 2008

King Edwin Hopes to Pillage Another Allentown Building

The King of Renaissance Square, Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski , can be good to those he likes. Royal favor, from time to time, has been bestowed on Johnny Mañana's (that's with a ñ, damn it!). Servants there have been permitted to feed the Royal Stomach, of course without any tips. That business, along with Allentown Brew Works, is exempt from all but federal taxes.

In fact, many downtown businesses are the beneficiaries of Royal Grants.

Vickey's Sweet Spot 621 Hamilton St. $11,190
New York Urban 740 Hamilton St. $19,366
Total Office Solutions 915 Hamilton St. $20,000
Wireless & Beyond 965 Hamilton St. $20,000
Ileanette's Beauty Salon 913 Hamilton St. $20,000
Johnny Manana's 835 Hamilton St. $50,000
Cosmopolitan 18 N. Sixth St. $50,000

But there are many other businesses who daily face the Royal Wrath. The defunct Neuweiler Brewery owner was conned into coming into Allentown and then jailed for code violations, many of which occurred before he owned the place. The King has His own designs for that property, and is making life uncomfortable for the current owner. All the King's horses and all the King's men recently attempted to evict everyone from the Livingston because the owner was fixing the roof without Royal permission. Lady Pamela and The Duke of Donovan stopped that.

All the King's horse and men, however, know no rest. Apparently, the King wants to seize another property, so his code enforcement hounds were unleashed early yesterday morning at Monument Plaza, 645 Hamilton Street. Owner Steve Blakesley spent $1.83 million to buy that property and sunk another million dollars into renovations. But that made no difference yesterday to a swat team of enforcement hounds. Four city vehicles and a city attorney attacked the building, crawling all over to find code violations. The prophet Michael was there, but said nothing out of fear this would just encourage the King to become even more vindictive. But Sir Alfonso Todd spoke out on Michael's blog, and I'll repeat his comment here.

MM, you may not want to say it but I will. The City has not assisted 645 Hamilton Street and has bordered on harassment and bullying with its treatment. They tend to speak about how the NYC owner and his investors bought a building and has not fixed it appropriately, thus it cannot be opened for use to ANY business. Well, I am here and I have witnessed building and zoning officials lack of assistance when it comes to "certain owners" in Allentown. It's deplorable that unless you are a part of the IN CROWD with the City, it seems you are not promoted or assisted with issues that will affect the City as a whole. 645 Hamilton is a prominent building on the corner of 7th Street. You would think the City would be glad that some investors came in and bought a building and were willing to invest in the City. They have given subsidies, tax breaks, and grants that total millions to other businesses on Hamilton but this building has been given nothing but hard times. The owner has met with the Mayor and Zoning and joined LVEDC and did what he thought was the correct thing to do but to no avail. He actually has come to a point and asked who he had to "pay off" in order to get fair treatment from the City. This building is literally BLACK BALLED. Today 8 people from the zoning, electrical, safety, and whatever else they could think of Department, came to the building for inspections and I promise it was just to tear the building apart with future citations. At this point, I wouldn't blame the owner if he just "mothballed" the building as many other surrounding building owners have done and let it sit empty as he waits for the highest bidder to call. It's a shame too, because with the loss of Federal Grill, Rite Aid, Dandy Dry Cleaners and India Boutique, you would think that the City would be uplifting and breaking their backs to help these investors but instead they are running them and other possible businesses out of town. I hope they have a method to their madness. If not, Allentown leaders may be their OWN worst enemies...

33 comments:

hayshaker said...

Is there another side to these stories?

michael molovinsky said...

yes hayshaker, there is actually more to the story. Steve Blaksey sold the building to Albert Nigri last year for 3.75million. the mayor and city should be helping this gentleman promote and rent space in his building, not harassing him. i realize some of these apologists for the mayor are dependent upon the city and associated agencies for their livelihood, but the abuses are becoming so apparent, it would be more ethical of them to at least remain silent instead of continued cheerleading.

Joe Hilliard said...

It seems like Mayor Pawolowski wants to become a Donald Trump with government resources.

If he is such a visionary developer, why doesn't he move to the private sector, obtain capital, and do this stuff himself?

Oh, that would be too hard....

Anonymous said...

"He actually has come to a point and asked who he had to "pay off" ..."

Wow, does this really sound like someone we should have sympathy for? This statement says a lot. Funny he doesn't just agree to the repairs. Must be cheaper to bribe someone.

Anonymous said...

XERTEK GYM, RITE AID, FEDERAL GRILLE, DANDY'S DRY CLEANERS, INDIAN BOUTIQUE, HAPPY CHINESE RESTAURANT-WHAT DO ALL OF THESE BUSINESSES HAVE IN COMMON ? They are leaving or have left Hamilton Street. I understand that "Hayshaker" believes there are two sides to every story and there is. Albert Nigri bought the building which was loaded with problems and he invested in local companies to fix them. He went through many of them and all promised results but none actually came through with anything but a bill. He has had this building for about a year and has truly attempted to get everything up to par and make some sort of profit, even when actual tenants in the building were hindering progress. He has gone through orange stickers being slapped on the building stating it was UNFIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION, sneaky surprise visits from zoning people, daily (almost harassing) visits from zoning people, and received the silent treatment from the City even though he and his group of investors wanted to do the same thing Eric Butz, The Sovereign, and other business buildings desire, which is to make a profit by giving space to businesses wanting to be a part of the Allentown Community. All I can say at this moment in regards to Allentown leadership is Allentown DESERVES what Allentown gets. PERIOD !
But I still love this place and will do what I can to keep it moving forward no matter how frustrating it may get. As a community, we have to do what is best for THE PEOPLE and giving up is NOT an option.

Alfonso

Anonymous said...

I know there's alot going on in Allentown, but as regards businesses closing, please remember what's going on with the economy.

As an example, Emmaus, a very stable community, has at least 4 major vacancies in their downtown, all of which closed in the past 6-9 months.

I'm not saying Pawlowski isn't screwing things up (he is, royally), but that's not the only thing going on here.

hayshaker said...

I meant the city's side. Why is the city harassing him? Is he doing a half-assed job fixing the building? That's all Allentown needs is more half-assed buildings. I've already watched the city of my birth deteriorate before my eyes.

And for MM, I could give a rat's ass about the mayor or his administration. I'm just one for hearing both sides of a story. I know this is foreign with your blind hatred of anything that doesn't come from MM.

Now if you don't mind, why not tell us what the city says? Even if it is meaningless, you'd have a bit more credibility.

hayshaker said...

So Alfonso is telling me what I am deducing myself - that the current owner is doing a half-assed job:

He went through many of them and all promised results but none actually came through with anything but a bill.

So they didn't fix what they were to fix then, correct?

He has had this building for about a year and has truly attempted to get everything up to par and make some sort of profit, even when actual tenants in the building were hindering progress.

He wants to make a profit in a substandard building? How much more will he allow it to deteriorate to balance out his "profit?"

I forgot. Apparently the mayor is just screwing this guy merely because he has a superiority complex to outside investors. Please.

Anonymous said...

hayshaker,

Good point, I applaud the mayor for getting on top of these issues before the become scares on the face of the city.

michael molovinsky said...

hayshaker, the owner failed to successfully provide central heating for an enormous building with only several tenants scattered in different sections. however, all tenants had heat, with electric heaters, with electric paid at the owners expense. out of 8 tenants, 7 were satisfied. however, one tenant, who was being evicted for not paying rent, complained to the city as a tactic to stall eviction. this is the other side of the story which you so desperately seek. the real issue here is the method with which the city has approached this situation, they have been arrogantly heavy handed and disrespectful. perhaps you should take a look at city controlled properties. last year a window fell out of the schoen building and nearly hit a woman. the keystone building on the northeast corner of 8th and tilghman has been allowed to deteriorate for years, with a leaking roof. until recently steps on a public sidewalk to the basement were unprotected from a missing railing. you should seek the "other" side of these stories from the city and put them on a blog, or don't read these blogs if you think they are so bias,

hayshaker said...

Interesting. Since you only want to provide your side of the story, you are putting it upon your readers to get the other side. It's an interesting method.

Your explanation reinforces in my mind that there IS an important other side. You don't feel that a 3.75 million dollar property should have adequate heating? You think that as long as there are tenants, it is free to operate in a shanty-town manner? The owner of a property such as this HAS A RESPONSIBILITY beyond the initial purchase. Perhaps city hall is merely trying to instill this responsibility in these investor so as not to have yet another Colonial Theater or Americus Hotel. IF you are going to purchase a property, you need to have the wherewithal to maintain the property. If you do not, I have no qualms with the city allowing the proverbial door to hit them on the way out.

Anonymous said...

Hayshaker and Anonymous,

I wish he HAD a superiority complex because then he would have done like many and shut down the building months ago and called it a day. In truth, he has done EVERYTHING, including fix the problems but still seems to be behind the eight ball when it comes to the City. He wants to have a viable business and has many small businesses in the building that, in reality, could have been placed out in the streets months ago. He has not made ANY money since he and his investors obtained the building and he pays taxes and utilities faithfully. Does he want special treatment ? No. But he does want the SAME treatment as all of the other buildings are getting. Referrals, grants, facades, straight information, respect, and any other items an Allentown business owner may have a right to. Is that so much to ask for ?

Alfonso

Anonymous said...

How much money has the person invested in the building since the purchase?

michael molovinsky said...

alfonso, please keep in mind the mentality of the apologists and the anonymous commentators. although your intentions are good, and you are free to respond as you see fit, i think the owners of specific private properties have enough woes in this city, without being also submitted to the court of public opinion

Joe Hilliard said...

Has Mr. Nigri arranged rather large donations to Mayor Pawlowski?

His problems would quickly disappear!

More and more people refer to the Queen City as "Little Chicago" for a reason...

Anonymous said...

Space heaters are dangerous. I don't know Pawloski or even live in Allentown but it seems this thread is pure bias and whoever has a different opinnion is told to go elsewhere, interesting?

hayshaker said...

Interesting that Mr. Molovinsky is forbidding me from doing exactly what he is doing - voicing my public opinion. Apparently, any valid voice is one who agrees with Mr. Molovinsky and all others are merely apologists. It must be comforting to live in such a tight box.

I do believe it is in the public's right to require property owners to maintain property to certain standards - especially properties as important as this one. One has to wonder why the owner could not or will not spend the money to properly maintain it's utilities.

Anonymous said...

the mayor's power is not unlimited. If this property owner is in conformance with the law and the citations are without merit he should appeal. As for the grants if they weren't used to bring in new business owners then the city would be stagnant and would wither and die.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have deleted two inflammatory comments, one anonymous and the other a sock puppet.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hayshaker,

The whole point of a blog is that it is interactive and people who have knowledge of all sides of a story are free to comment. I do not believe a blogger has an obligation to seek out both sides of a story before publishing something. It is usually better that way. You get the raw, unfiltered story.

To the extent that you feel that only one side is welcome here, you are mistaken. I welcome the views of others, especially those who disagree with me. I do not welcome personal attacks, but love free and open exchange, and yours is one voice that is very welcome, even when you defend Pawlowski or Bennett.

Now let me focus on the specifics here. When I got this story, it came from MM, abd he physically saw what had happened. I decided not to publish anything bc MM himself was concerned that the city would retaliate against the owner. I changed my mind when Alfonso Todd, on MM's blog, reported what he had seen. So you have two eyewitness accounts of strong-arm actions by the mayor's office against the owner of one of its largest buildings.

There have been allegations of code violations, made by a tenant evicted by the owner. Those allegations did not help that person in court.

This is a "side" of the story you will rarely see in the MSM. When the city bullies a property owner, as it did at The Livingston and appears to be doing here, the simple reality is that many are afraid to speak out.

The next question, then, is why is this happening? Is Pawlowski laying the smack down on property owners who have gotten away with too much for far too long? Does he want the building, which is certainly true in the case of the Neuweiler brewery building? Is it reverse play to pay, badgering people who don't contribute to campaigns?

My suspicion is that it is a mix of all three, but I won't get the mayor's side of the story because he won't give it to me. I am a personum non gratis. That's exactly what he told Bill White in a published column.

This is perhaps Pawlowski's biggest flaw, and why he is detested by so many people inside city hall. He can't take any criticism. Instead of engaging critics, he attempts to marginalize them. I know for a fact that he has attempted to dig up dirt on Molovinsky, and more than once.

Critics will be subjected to personal attack after personal attack until they get disgusted. I've already had to delete two inflammatory personal attacks here. I recently outed one of these anonymous trolls, Edward DeGrace, and he is a Pawlowski sycophant who just launches ad hominems at anyone who notes something is wrong.

And something is wrong. Businesses are being pushed out of A-town, from Rite Aid to the Not so Lucky Garden. Were it not for blogs like Michael Molovinsky's, there'd be no side to the story bc there would be no report in the MC. The MC wrote no story about all the merchants who were adversely affected by LANTA routing changes at a time when we were screaming about it in the blogosphere like voices in the wilderness. It was not until Channel 69 and even the ET decided to cover this story that the MC began to cover it.

So really, if it were not for these reports, you'd be hearing nothing at all and drinkin' the kool aid.

atown-liker said...

Mr. Todd, to me, has probably more credibility than any blogger commenting on Allentown right now, and I want to lean toward his side on this issue. At the same time Hayshaker asks some important questions that deserve real answers and I'd like to hear them. If that makes me an apoligist, I ... apologize.

atown-liker said...

Off topic re the Happy Garden: They're moving to 7th & Allen. They've been planning it for a long time. That is a tougher part of town, but they want more walk-in, sit-down business -- they have a big, empty dining room now, but they exist mostly on take-out. Also, the new property owner is looking for a New York-style rent increase, which they can't afford.

Bernie O'Hare said...

A-Liker,

Happy Garden is yet another business leaving H-n St. I thank you for explaining the reasons.

I agree w/ your comment re Alfonso Todd, and on this issue, and that's why I built a post out of his comment. I've answered Hayshaker's "what's the other side of the story?" question.

Anon 2:49 has a point, too. I can think of several businesses that have closed doors in recent months. But in the case of 645 Hamilton, the mayor is being bully.

Anonymous said...

regarding this pawlowski quote found on TheAllentownCommentater: "Pawlowski questioned Phillips's motives, saying, ''I have no problem
with someone switching parties, but I do have a problem with someone
using it as a tool for self-promotion and self-aggrandizement .''

I guess this means that Pawlowski has come out against Sam Bennett. Clearly she fits the bill as described.

hayshaker said...

Actually, there was nothing answered as far as the other side of the story. Molovinsky came closest by adding that the owner had a non-functioning central heating system. If you ask me, this is critically important to any 6 story office building in center city Allentown. No one has answered why the owner will not fix the problem. Is he waiting for a handout from the taxpayers? Perhaps.

hayshaker said...

I should add that I don't consider any enforcement by the city to be "strong arming." Can't maintain a $3.75 million building, don't buy it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, there was nothing answered as far as the other side of the story.

I answered you. You just don't like what I told you. I have no obligation to give you both sides. This is a blog, ands I make no claim to objectivity. If I wanted to report bpoth sides, I would be unable to do so because Pawlowski considers it beneath himself to talk to his critics.

I should add that I don't consider any enforcement by the city to be "strong arming."

I disagree completely. When enforcement is discriminatorily enforced, as it appears to be in Allentoiwn, it is called strong-arming.

Anonymous said...

From where I stand, the city has supported developers, investors, and property owners with proven track records and good plans.

Why should the city throw this guy a bone at all? Who is he? What has he done? What is his plan for the property?

Saying the city should help this guy just because they are helping others is rather juvenile. Doing so certainly would not be prudent.

Anonymous said...

And that is JUST my point. He SHOULD be thrown a bone, because EVERYONE else has been thrown a bone. Don't pick and choose what investors should and shouldn't be helped and marketed. We are ALL in this town TOGETHER and we do need each other to move A-town forward. Let's just cut the crap, get over ourselves, treat each other fairly, and bring Allentown back to where it needs to be! PERIOD !

Alfonso

Anonymous said...

Do banks not pick and choose ideas and people to get behind based on the merit and potential of their ideas?

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's true, but King Edwin is not a bank. There's this little thing in the Consititution about equal protection. Perhaps the mayor can have one of his lawyers read it.

hayshaker said...

Why should King Edwin help some developer that can't even install a working HVAC system? This is NOT the kind of property owner we need in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

Hey:

You guys are funny.

I owned this building for almost four years and NEVER got a PENNEY in funding from the City of Allentown. As a matter of contention, the "city" was instrumental in "stealing" one of my most expensive tenants.

I also NEVER received a citation for ANY code or other violations. Ask anybody, I was there working everyday all day to stay on top of any repairs.

No help. If Albert wanted help he would have gotten it from me, however, it was Albert’s ego that got in the way of success at 645.

Monument Plaza costs $1200.00 a day to run empty. I was pulling in $700.00 a day in income. After tax, I was at a daily loss of over $600.00. It was at that point Albert acquired the building with full knowledge of the p&L and ambition to "drop ten more million into it” He also stated that he had every intention of eliminating the current tenants. He had bigger plans for the building than Allentown could support. Simply the SAME mistake every other developer has made there with the exception of NYU.

After my million plus cash out (our original intention by the way), I left skid marks out of that city. IT IS A WELFARE city and Allentown revolves around BLIGHT. No blight no money. Your fearless "king" knows and capitalizes on that.

Good luck to all endevors!

Steve Blakesley