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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Hyman Gets Green Light to Redevelop Adelaide ... Again

Adelaide Silk Mill in 1907
Allentown's Adelaide Silk Mill, first opened in 1881, was at one time one of the world's largest silk mills  In 1953, Allentown was the largest silk city in the world. No more. Spinning stopped in 1964. Though various businesses cam to the Adelaide, they went. Plans to redevelop the former factory into an apartment building failed when both Lehigh County and Allentown School District refused to place this eyesore in a Keystone Opportunity Zone. This would have exempted the property owner and all its tenants from virtually all taxes except federal income tax. This blighted structure, a fading reminder of Allentown's past, continued to sit empty until it was purchased by developer Nat Hyman. He's planning 184 apartments in an adaptive re-use. He's asked for no tax breaks. He received a green light from both Allentown's Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board in 2017 after hours of testimony. This included expert testimony that the building was above the flood plain. Yet when it came time for Hyman to seek building permits, they were mysteriously denied. After a two-hour hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board last night that should have taken all of two minutes, Hyman was finally granted a "variance" from the flood-proofing requirements of the zoning ordinance. He can pick up his construction permits just as soon as his engineer certifies that filling in the basement, as the City wanted him to do, is a really stupid idea.

Hyman was represented in this matter by prominent zoning attorneys Bill Malkames and John VanLuvanee. Allentown was represented by no one. The building inspector who refused to issue construction permits was a no-show. Same for the Solicitor's office. There simply was no legal basis for denying the permits. In fact, the denial itself could have been appealed. VanLuvanee, in an apparent attempt to allow inspectors to save face, said he was seeking a variance and had no intention of arguing anyone was wrong. But clearly, the inspector was. Hyman referred to him as "overzealous." I personally believe there were political overtones in this denial. That was pretty apparent when the Managing Director came and quietly took notes.

Now VanLuvanee had three witnesses - Nat Hyman, civil engineer Peter Terry and architect Stewart Gouck. Instead of putting everyone through hours of testimony, the attorney presented summaries of what each would say and then asked each witness to agree. Each did. This seemed good enough for Chairman Robert Knauer. It even seemed good enough for member Scott Unger, although he wants an engineer to certify that the Adelaide will not be floating away anytime soon. But Alan Salinger, a former city bureaucrat, had thousands of questions, some of which were downright nonsensical.

Salinger's namesake, J.D., once said, "I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it." That pretty much sums up Alan. From his comments about the "histerocity" of the building to his suggestion that Hyman be somehow required to shore up a flood wall along Jordan Creek, which he doesn't even own, Salinger even worried that the feds might deny grants to the City if the Zoning Hearing Board grants what it already granted well over a year ago. And he took offense when Hyman called the building inspector overzealous.

What should have offended him is that the building inspector was a no-show who wasted everyone's time and money.  This especially includes the time and money of the one developer in Allentown who is actually providing affordable housing without handouts through the adaptive re-use of historic buildings.

City Council member Daryl Hendricks smeared Hyman recently, saying it was time for him to put on his "big boy pants." Hendricks should ask that question of the city inspectors and lawyers who failed to show last night. While he's at it, he should ask it of himself.

The story I saw was a developer who asks for nothing and is providing the city exactly what it needs. I also believe the hoops Hyman is forced to jump through are certainly political and possibly something far worse.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

So what did this guy buy you, a new computer or a phone? Seriously, the last time you kissed this much ass was when Your pal Charlie was in Congress. People are aware of your tilted coverage but this is full blown mancrush and beyond.
You condemn public meeting people when they don't do what you think they should do. Thank god you are not an elected official or on any boards. I want them to question people not just give a pass to every boy toy you have a crush on.

If this building is in a flood plain why should he get a pass? Would a private home owner?

Stop being so dramatic and hold him as accountable as you hold Benner and other people. You picking favorites cheapens your messages.

Anonymous said...

It is obvious, just as in other matters in the country, political opportunity is more important than the benefits to the city or country, The only solution is for the people to pay more attention and demand the corruption be eliminated. Sadly I dont think they care.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:01, You're an idiot and Bernie is 100% right!! He should get a pass from the flood zone because the building has been sitting there for over 100 years, is a blighted mess at the entrance to downtown and he is not taking one cent of taxpayer money to redevelop it (unlike the NIZ properties). Have you ever seen The Adelaide Mill?! It is falling down! I applaud Hyman for taking this project on and can't believe the city is not doing everything it can to help him. This is definitely Ray O'Connell putting his own political ambitions ahead of what is best for the city!

Anonymous said...

Anyone willing to invest with the sincere intent to clean up a property in the city should get more than a fair shake. Only way to get it back to the days when you could go to Lehs and Hess Brothers and things were nicer and safer. That is also why I praise the public servants and honest, hardworking public officieals that do work hard to get it all back. Also praise the motorist that slows down when I merge on 22 at rush hour

Anonymous said...

Unless an unexpected last minute emergency, the builder inspector should have been there. The leadership is terrible. That's what you get when you put a former school official in charge of the city. Bumbling figure head.

Anonymous said...

Allentown won’t won’t hit bottom for decades. The place has tomorrow’s problems and yesterday’s leadership, with everything yesterday implies.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:24 is absolutely right but I blame City Council as much as O'Connell. They put O'Connell in who was part of the Fed Ed era and has absolutely no experience running anything. He was a vice principal at Trexler Middle School for 30 years and never even promoted. City council did not listen to the will of the voters. They missed a huge opportunity by not putting Hyman in as Mayor. Look how much money he saved the City on just that fire issue...over a million dollars! And that was just one contract!!! Imagine if he applied that business experience to every contract. The city would have a surplus now and we wouldn't be getting O'Connell's ridiculous 27% tax hike! He will run everyone out of Allentown. Ray is so far over his head it is not funny. Bernie is right, the city should have been there...to support Hyman's redevelopment of this old dilapidated building!

Anonymous said...

The place is a shit hole country. It’s no wonder the Blue Wave Year of the Woman crowd acted like it didn’t exist.

Anonymous said...

@9:24
While I’m definitely underwhelmed by O’Connell so far as mayor, he’s definitely better than Fed Ed or Afflerbach and to be fair, he was the principal, not vice principal of Trexler Middle School.

Anonymous said...

The no show by the inspector is cowardly and punk ass. It's remarkable that slugs like this draw a salary. This is why so many people despise government. Hyman, who is asking for nothing, gets a special third degree from the same gang who rubber stamped a felon's criminal enterprise for a decade. Allentown doesn't deserve nice things.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know how many people will be living in this essentially empty area and what city services will be required to support this increase in population? Any studies?

I assume there will be lots of children needing an education living at these apartments, does that public infrastructure exist?

Anonymous said...

If Nat is unwilling to trade meatballs, Phantom tickets, and campaign contributions for the approvals he seeks, he'll simply have to wait. You'd think he'd know how business is transacted in the city without ethics. "Overzealous," usually means, "didn't get his bribe."

Anonymous said...

Hyman is a whining individual.
He is a bully.
If he doesn't get his way, he cries foul.
Does he have insurance on this property.??????

Anonymous said...

Maybe the city is finally making him follow the rules.
He never had to follow them while FED ED was in charge.
They were attached at the hip.
MANY INSPECTORS WERE CALLED BACK TO CITY HALL, WHEN THEY WERE ATTEMPTING TO INSPECT HIS BUILDINGS.(They were told to back off).


Bernie O'Hare said...

The City is making him follow the rules by denying construction permits and then failing to appear at the hearing? If anyone is ignoring the rules, it appears to be the city. The ZHB decision makes that clear. Your use of the caps lock button only demonstrates further an underlying animus against Hyman.

Bernie O'Hare said...

11:04, Your questions have nothing to do with zoning. If Hyman is going to invest his own money and a bank is willing to finance him, that’s bc they both have done the research to determine that it is economically viable. The apartments will draw mostly empty nesters or families with one child and should pose no burden on the school district, which will benefit from an increased assessment.

Anonymous said...

Allentown has adopted the Detroit plan, and it will follow it to the end.

Kim Oliver said...

All of this is personal vendettas!! And they are all in cohoots with each other’s corruption. They are showing the younger generation that legal gangs are acceptable but yet and still gangs are criminals and need to be dealt with. Unless you are part of the local government. The citizens are the people who suffer from the local government’s actions!! The local government themselves need to suffer the reprocussions of their own actions!

Anonymous said...

"If Hyman is going to invest his own money and a bank is willing to finance him, that’s bc they both have done the research to determine that it is economically viable."

Is that research publicly available?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Why should any businessman make public hisvresearch on the economic viability of any business project? You can spend your own money and do your own research. Your question has nothing to do with zoning and is one you would not ask of any other developer.

Anonymous said...

Allentown should just destroy itself, if Hyman is smart he will look for a less corrupt place to do business. 2.48 is an idiot , he believes he has a right to this info,

Anonymous said...

Bernie is correct, Bernie should be Hyman's administrative Asst. Salary could include a pool pass at the Nazareth pool !

Anonymous said...

Allentown is run by idiots

Anonymous said...

the people of Allentown did not want o Connell now taxes will increase greatly republican hyman would have been much better democrats ruin cities that's their record new York Chicago and l a and san fran

Anonymous said...

That redevelopment of the Adelaide is slated to become 184 apartments, of which nearly half, 87 in total, will be less in square footage than the minimum required in the City Code which is 500 sq feet for an efficiency or one bedroom. Some will be as small as 440 sq feet. There will be overcrowding, which is already a serious issue in Allentown.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This has gone thru the ZHB twice and PC at least once. It has been thoroughly vetted. Give it a rest. You are either wrong or variances were obtained. Just admit you have it in for Hyman.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Looks like Daryl Hendricks is your next man crush.
Oh, sorry I mean HYMAN.(forever).