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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Morning Call's Strata Ad

Regular readers of this blog know that this is no place to come for an "objective" accounting about anything. I really despise the notion that anyone can truly be objective. It's a logical impossibility. Sometimes, presenting both sides of a story is unfair because there may only be one side. But for any news source to have any credibility, it must make honesty, independence and accountability its primary goals. Increasingly, it appears that The Morning Call has abandoned those goals. Instead of journalism, it is becoming a content provider for its advertisers. That was very apparent in a weekend story about the Strata Flats above Shula's in downtown Allentown. That's the where crooner Jim Ochse was recently bodyslammed by Allentown's finest for daring to sing Ba-ba-ba-ba-Barbara Ann.

The Internet headline announces, "Few units left in newly opened Strata Flats in downtown Allentown." That certainly creates the impression that the place is selling out fast. That's the impression any landlord would want to create. But is it true?

Not according to blogger Michael Molovinsky. He spoke to a new tenant who told him he has hardly seen anyone else inside the place. He was not required to provide security and even had his rent pro-rated. Molovinsky even thinks that developer J.B. Reilly has brought furniture into some empty apartments to create the impression that they are occupied.

The only way to know whether this place is renting out so quickly is to see J.B. Reilly's books. I doubt those were provided.

Basically, what The Morning call did was provide free advertising for J.B. Reilly.


Anonymous said...

I remain convinced that it's a big push to flip all of it and get out. The subsidized rents, the lack of security deposits. Just minor evidence that this is all about getting warm bodies in those buildings as fast as possible.

I think that's always been the plan. Build it and let someone else deal with the long term leasing and capital costs.

Reality Bites said...

Build up excitement, talk it up. If the demand is there, Location, location, location.

I've seen better for less. Sorry

Anonymous said...

It was free advertising.

Also interesting was the recent article on Talen staying in Allentown. At the end of the article, there was an interesting quote from Sy Traub:

"We're in the process of reviewing the memorandum of understanding concerning Talen's taxes," Traub said. "We're trying to figure out if there's room for funds that could enable a developer to provide Talen with an attractive enough lease rate to stay. I think everyone is optimistic that something can be worked out."

I think we all have realized that the end result of the NIZ is subsidized rents that draw people from outside the NIZ. But I always thought it was the developers that were putting together the numbers to make their individual buildings most attractive to prospective tenants.

To hear that quote from the Chair of the NIZ Board, which I thought was supposed to be impartially evaluating which buildings receive funding, is a bit troubling. Most surprising is that he seemed so comfortable saying it publicly.

Anonymous said...

NIZ and CRIZ math simply doesn't work. The loaned/deferred tax money can never be paid back in full; not even close. It's the same, sad tale everywhere it's tried. Politicians (and their hangers-on, e.g. Fleck) make money and get perks. Rich developers make money and get perks. Taxpayers get the bill and no perks. The math does not work. It's a combination of spending binge and corporate welfare, fueled by pay-to-play, based upon an equation that can't be solved. The early results are Potemkin cities, as Allentown has become. The long-term result is debt thrown on to the grandkids that they'll never be able to pay.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Free money party in the all-Democrat Party city.

Pass the Gentrification, please. Vote us into office, then get the hell out. And be quick about it, too.

Because Alan Jennings cares and Ed Pawlowski is not a crook.

Anonymous said...

In Allentown pa the county seat the place were statues of limitations are in the mathmatical equasion stimied by the stained justice system¿!($ Just who and what part of this circus bait and switch is the main agenda of this flopp of allentown pa having hospital administrator as a prop from LVHN formally known as the great allentown hospital circus sideshow freeks and geeks and also ties to top law dog paperwork flurries refined¿!($

patent pending

Anonymous said...

The reason it is a news story is because people for the last several years have said no one would want to live downtown. The fact being that the Farr Lofts are 100% occupied and Strata Flats are at 82% occupied and that is with the fourth floor not being complete yet. Also remember that residential properties do not fall under the umbrella for NIZ funding.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It would be news and I would have no quarrel with it if it were true. But is it true? We only have anecdotal evidence. That is no basis on which to reach the conclusions that were reached.

Anonymous said...

Interesting: under Reagan you professionals who desired professional careers and living in cities were derisively called YUPPIES (Young Urban Professionals).
Under Obama these same people (or at least the children of YUPPIES) are adoringly called "Millenials"

I guess there is politics in everything.

Anonymous said...

It's likely "mostly true", perhaps exaggerated, and dependent upon what you count, i.e. finished units versus unfinished units; and moved in versus leased versus committed to when complete.

My wife & I dropped by the place a few days prior to the article appearing, and inquired about leasing a two bedroom to be told by the on-site rental agent that there were no longer any two bedrooms available.

We didn't do this, but one way of checking is to count the names on the mailboxes.

Anonymous said...

What I hear from people on the ground (not slobbering reporters) is that the Strata is very poorly constructed. Much like what has been said above it appears that the model is much like residential builders did with the early 'garden apartments' in the Lehigh Valley in the 1960s. Build cheaply, put in a few amenities new for baby boomers (pools, tennis courts) and watch the place deteriorate in a matter of a decade.
The countdown begins.

Anonymous said...

My son pays $1,200 per month for a real 'luxury' apartment in Upper Macungie, just 15 minutes from 7th and Hamilton. For that he gets at beautiful 2-bedroom apartment, swimming pool, tennis courts, all-season clubhouse, and civility. He is 5 minutes away from all the shopping in Trexlertown and the west end, and just 10 minutes from the Lehigh Valley Mall and 15 from Promenade Shops. Lots of restaurants in the west end, T-town, macungie, alburtis, fogelsville, etc. And did I say 'civility'?

Anonymous said...

8:51 brings up another one of the NIZ mysteries, the eligibility of NIZ funding of residential property. I'm guessing, the bulk of expense incurred to construct the Strata building is found from the First Floor COMMERCIAL and down.

From what I've seen from photos, the Second Floor and up was on the Economy Plan. That's pretty obvious. Does anyone beside the NIZ operatives know how much was actually designated for reimbursement on the Strata building?

So far, everything that has been built downtown gives the appearance of Economy Level contracting at very high prices.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

This is post-dorm living in a marginally appointed, cheaply constructed building, in the middle of an impoverished neighborhood. The restaurant scene is marginal and expensive and for the most part the local bars are uptight and pretentious.
Step outside of the envelope and the neighborhood is a dicey place to park, your wheels could be gone in the morning.
There's the rest of the story.

Anonymous said...

I work in the Lehigh Valley with many young engineers and similar technical professionals in their 20s and 30s. Responsible men and women earning good salaries. Since many have come here from other areas, we talk a lot about the different areas to live in the Valley. They pretty much all live either in Lower/Upper Macungie or the north side of Bethlehem. Some are homeowners but most aren't. None of them have any interest in living in the NIZ. Comments range from "you go a couple blocks away and it's a ghetto" to "sure, it's nice to have a lot of restaurants next door, but a $45 steak and a few $12 martinis every other night aren't in my budget. I'd rather drive 2 miles for $2 taco night at the Bethlehem golf course."

Other than a few hipsters, I don't understand who these apartments appeal to.

Anonymous said...

The "hipsters" aren't looking for a stepped-up
dormitory, there're in Easton where the scene is
lively, happening and real.

Anonymous said...

I'll skip the details, the hype is 100% bullshit.
The puff piece was necessary to bump up a sluggish kickoff.
The smallest bit of genuine reporting would have told a very different story.
Dig deeper, these shoddily build units will be worn out in a decade, the plan is to tear them down and build a high-rise if all goes well.
This is disposable building holding space for bigger and better things to come.

Severin Freeman said...

why do my comments keep getting taken down?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am unaware I took down any of your comments. Sometimes they go into my spam folder and I don't know they never posted. Let me check.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There is nothing in my spam folder, either, so you did not post correctly.

Anonymous said...

Because your name is JOHNSON!!! Fraud!!

Chris said...

Sadly, at least for now, the NIZ can't even attract a real Starbucks, even with free rent.

Anonymous said...

The people behind Starbucks aren't fools.
They're not buying the bullshit Riley and the MC
are selling.