Friday, November 14, 2008

$750,000 of potential funding

Seventh Street members, arts community and friends,

The reason I am writing is to urge you to attend the third and final meeting of the neighborhood revitalization plan:Monday, Nov. 17, 7pm, Sacred Heart church, 336 N. 4th St.The neighborhood plan, which is funded by a $90,000 grant, will cover the area from 7th Street to Jordan Creek, and from Tilghman to Linden Streets.

The meetings are meant to gather input about the neighborhood from residents. (Surveys are also being conducted). The feedback from the meeting will play a large role in the plan that gets drafted.

Here's why our participation is crucial. On the basis of the plan Wachovia Regional Foundation will decide whether to fund a roughly $750,000 "implementation grant"--which will come with many matching funds.

Needless to say, this is a huge deal for the neighborhood at large.
Please encourage neighbors and friends in the neighborhood to attend the meeting, which is:
Monday, Nov. 17, 7pm, Sacred Heart Church, 336 N. 4th St.

Friday, October 31, 2008

New Jamaican Restaurant on 7th Has a Name--and Coming Soon


I noted a while back that a new Jamaican restaurant is coming to Seventh Street--in the shuttered 3 J's Bakery space at 619 N. 7th St. The name? Winston's West Indian & American Restaurant. And "Coming Soon"...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Properties Of Merit Awards Celebration - 7th Street Nominated

Last night Properties of Merit held their 10th anniversary awards ceremony. Amongst the properties nominated for commercial storefronts were: 130, 144, 337 and 535 N 7th Street.
We were honored for our hard work this past year and I'm happy to post a few pictures of our merchants who attended last night. The facade program has really helped in community building on 7th - enjoy.

Norma and Luis Vasquez from VQUEZ Party Supply
Marian and Ibrahim Camara with little Mahima and Alfred sleeping on daddy...from Hardware Plus (our first facade)
Sweet Italian's before and after - Carmen was there but I didn't get a picture...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Art Meets House Tour

there's nothing like the threat of having oh...1000 people showing up at your place to kind of get things like sanding floors, getting a kitchen installed and generally cleaning things from top to bottom. Coupled with that insanity is the...hey...let's have an arts show which involves a great group of committed local artists and one guy that should be committed for adding it into the mix(that would be me).

I'm thrilled and honored to say that this Saturday, Oct 4th, my house will be part of the 32nd annual Old Allentown Preservation Association's historic house tour as well as the home of the inaugural Chen Arts Group art show from 10AM-4PM. Tickets can be purchased in advance for the tour for $15 and $20 the day of. For more information check the following link: If only interested in the art show, just show up...there's no charge. Lobaido's Italian Restaurant - 8th and Liberty is offering 15 percent off lunch or dinner to celebrate their 15th year anniversary - pick up your coupon at the OAPA office (10th and Turner).

there's been a teaser picture floating around that I will repost below. You get a glimpse at just one of the great things that exists in abundance in the fine city of Allentown - really unique architecture. This year's Old Allentown House Tour is aptly named, "Behind The Closed Doors" and after 3 weeks of non-stop work...I think I'm that dust...argh!

Hope to see you all on Saturday!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Jamaican Restaurant Coming to 7th Street


Walking the dog yesterday I nearly crashed into a ladder outside the 3Js Bakery--the friendly but less-than-fresh Dominican baked goods shop that recently closed its doors. A man on the ladder was literally removing the "3J" letters, and claimed a new Jamaican restaurant will be moving in shortly. No decision on the eatery's name, he told me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The NEW Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant

Happy Garden, the pretty solid Chinese place on Hamilton, has relocated to 501 N. 7th Street. The place looks good, but let's hope they update the sign...


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mixy Mixer

you know I love a party...this is a party with a reason.

Seventh Street Development Committee is hosting a Merchant Mixer tonight at St. Luke's Church from 6-9 PM. The purpose is to bring our merchants together to network, have a discussion on our efforts in destination creation as well as go over architectural designs being pulled together by The Architectural Studio.

there will be light refreshements...please feel free to stop by and find out what we're working on!

Thursday, July 24, 2008



A new restaurant, Bello's (515 N. 7th St.), opened last month on the 500 block of Seventh. Its ethnically ambiguous name is revealing. The eatery serves both Dominican and Italian fare. I wandered in the other day and tried both: an enormous slice of pizza (99 cents) and then a beef pastelito (a Domincan-style pastry, $1)--both delicious. Check out the menu here.

The place is cheerily decorated, and not a bad spot to sip (strong Dominican) coffee while reading the gutted Morning Call.

More photos:



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pete Lewnes Day

First there was the Energizer Bunny. Then came Pete Lewnes.

Our much-loved Main Street Manager--The Indefatigable One--was honored not once but twice in the last couple of weeks.

The 2008 Joseph S. Daddona Good Neighbor Award

The honoree

The Allentown Chamber of Commerce honored Good Neighbor Lewnes at its annual dinner on May 29 at the Holiday Inn downtown.

Allentown's Official "Peter Lewnes Appreciation Day," June 1

This really happened: Sunday, June 1 was the city's "Peter Lewnes Appreciation Day," and here's the proclamation to prove it:

The proclamation

The day needed formal recognition, so a true crowd of appreciators--Lewnatics?--gathered that day at the Allentown Brew Works for pancakes and morning alcohol, Lewnes-style. Aerial ABW photo below....


Friday, May 30, 2008

Flowers And Fleas

I just received a really fun video made during the Old Allentown Preservation Association's 17th annual Flower and Flea market.

this event was the first time 7th street was invited to participate and on a cold and dreary day in early May some old friends met with new friends and alot of junk er treasures traded hands. The flowers were part Elm Street's Safe Clean and Green's Christian Brown and part 7th street's newest florists - Paradise Floral Design.

all in all it was a great way to enjoy life in center city Allentown and a nice way to meet are going to have to make it earlier next year m'dear :)

yet ANOTHER art opening in downtown Allentown - Saturday, May 31 at Art N Soul Studio

well looks like art what is going on in Allentown this least with our dinner on Sunday night and this opening tomorrow we have a little momentum growing. I received an email from Craig Smith - one of the partners in Hamilton's Art N Soul Studios and wanted to pass the good news along...The show is at 516 W Hamilton from 6-12PM.

I for one plan on stopping by with friends...hope to see you there!
there's free booze which is always a Pete favorite :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Art Opening Tonight - Art N Soul Studios 516 W Hamilton

Hi All,

Art N Soul Studios - Allentown's Newest "Hip Spot" is hosting it's first Art Opening tonight! (6PM-12AM).

Located at 516 W Hamilton Street, Owners Craig and Curtis will be showing artwork by Andy B. Clarkson - from Columbus, Ohio.

Andy's art is sureal to say the least, weaving together realism of techique with unnatural and distorted subject matter creating moods and atmospheres of surprise and intrigue.

His art has appeared in several galleries and received awards including acceptance into the Society of Illustrators in Los Angeles, Art Crowd magazine and the grand prize in the International Illustrator of the Future Contest in Los Angeles, CA in 2001. Come out and show your support for this new gallery...hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How Sweet it Is

Back in ancient times--before the untimely demise of the Old Fairgrounds Blog--I used to regularly complain about a plywood eyesore on 7th. Photos, letters back and forth from Allentown's code department and the owner: I posted all of it, to no avail. I gave up.

What a difference a year or two makes. That sickly monument to blight is no longer. In its place: a fully decked out Sweet Italian Pizza, fresh off a facade makeover directed, as always, by the redoubtable Pete Lewnes. The before-and-after shots would make Mark Mendelson blush:

If you haven't visited yet, stop by the home of the four foot calzone. And check out the other facade makeovers--finished and in progress--at the 7th Street site.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Going once...Going twice...

Hey folks,

Something of interest to you may be that the Karoly Buildings - a pair of what appears to be beautiful limestones are coming up for court-ordered estate auctions this Saturday, May 17th at 10AM. I have toured the inside of these buildings and they need work but would make such great professional offices, gallery space, great home...the sky is the limit!

There is an open house tomorrow afternoon and one scheduled one hour prior to the auction on Saturday morning at 9AM. For what it's worth, I thought I'd put it out there on the bloggosphere! Here's the link to the auction site:
Neil Schroder, head of our Economic Restructuring committee lives in the gorgeous brownstone next door on the right.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

FREE...FREE...FREEEEE!!!! Sundays and Art?

ok...for those who know me...Pete LOVES FREE! I'm also good at letting people know about what's FREE!

Target (I'm saying that with a Frenchy accent) has helped keep the Allentown Art Museum Free on Sundays...have fun reading the following press release:

PS...for all of you Frank Lloyd Wright lovers that don't already know - the library from the Francis W. Little House is part of the museum.

The Allentown Art Museum has entered into a partnership with Target in recognition of the museum’s effort to make Museum visitation accessible to all families. Funds from a grant secured from Target are being used to continue Free Sundays, a program that waives general Museum admission on every Sunday of the year.
“We are proud that Target identified merit in this program that allows visitors of every economic background to enjoy and benefit from the Museum,” said Greg Perry, the Priscilla Payne Hurd Executive Director of the Allentown Art Museum. “Target demonstrates a strong commitment to the communities in which it does business, and we are grateful for their support.”
Free Sundays is the most visible and continuous demonstration of the Museum’s commitment to making its resources and educational programming accessible and available to all its constituents. The program encourages the Museum’s downtown neighbors, for many of whom the cost of membership or admission would be a barrier, to visit at no charge. Of the Museum’s 117,000 visitors in 2007, more than 21,000 took advantage of the Free Sundays opportunity.
This grant is part of ongoing efforts by Target to strengthen families and communities throughout the country. Since opening its doors, Target has given 5% of its income to organizations that support education, the arts and safe families and communities. Today, that translates to $3 million every week.
“At Target, we are making a real difference every day through our grant-making program,” said Laysha Ward, vice president, community relations, Target. “We’re proud to partner with the Allentown Art Museum as part of our ongoing commitment to give back to the communities where our guests and team members live and work.”
About the Allentown Art Museum
The Allentown Art Museum is a vibrant cultural center offering a world-class collection, an exceptional schedule of exhibitions, programs for visitors of all ages and a distinctive Museum Store. The permanent collection includes superb European Renaissance and Baroque paintings, American paintings and sculpture from the last three centuries, Southeast Asian sculpture, international textiles, decorative arts, and a library designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Art Ways, the Museum’s interactive family gallery, is themed to major exhibitions and offers a “please touch” area where families can enjoy making art together. The Allentown Art Museum is an Arts in Education Partner with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Clearer Vision

The first of 5 important Hamilton Street Visioning sessions is scheduled for next week. These public meetings are being held to help create a vision for downtown Allentown's future.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Living Here in Allentown launch event tomorrow

Student researcher-writers from Muhlenberg College have completed work on the second edition of Living Here in Allentown, a guide to the city's restaurants, bars, and activities. To celebrate the book's release, the students are hosting an event, free and open to the public.


Join Muhlenberg College students and Allentown residents to celebrate the publication of Living Here in Allentown: Beyond the Red Doors, a student-written and -designed guide to Allentown. A number of restaurants--“Muhlenberg Picks,” as designated in the guide--will host free food stations. Speakers to include Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and Muhlenberg College Dean of Students Karen Green.


THIS Friday (March 28) from 7pm to 9pm


Hamilton Room (3rd Floor) of the Allentown Brew Works
812 W. Hamilton St.

Copies of the guide will be on sale for $5.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mystery Building...

Does anyone know this building and more importantly where it will be located?
click here to find out:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cannon's fired

Read about local opposition to the apartment conversion planned for the once (and future?) Cannon's space here and here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mom...can I get a tattoo? didn't really go like that but Matthew Tuerk of Allentown Economic Development Corp fame pointed out one of downtown's newest and in this one man's opinion hippest new spots - Art N Soul Studios, 516 W. Hamilton St (610-433-4850) Yes Virginia Hamilton Street does have a Gallery space! Couple that with a tattoo studio and we're really not in Kansas anymore.

Art N Soul Studios just recently had it's soft opening on Jan 21st and is currently holding "Punk's Dead" by J. Smith - an exhibit displaying the late legends of Punk Rock including Sid Vicious, Joey Ramone, Wendy O Williams, and many others.

Stop in and check out the gallery- they are open Monday-Saturdays and Sundays by appointment - I've included some pics below:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

City announces restaurant promotion

The city has announced a worthwhile downtown restaurant promotion, "Dinner at 8." The deal is that you can get 20 percent off at two dinner entrees at any of eight different local restaurants:
Bay Leaf

GEO Spirits and Cuisine at the Crowne Plaza

Johnny MaƱana’s

the Allentown Brew Works

the Federal GrillLoBaido’s

Bellissimo Ristorante

ACI Halal and Turkish Restaurant

You can find the location and some links to these restaurants at the growing wiki-based Google map that Matt Tuerk of AEDC has set up.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Quality of life contacts on 7th Street site

We've added a few different ways to keep the most useful city phone numbers with you when you're out and about--to report graffiti or litter or those mysterious swinging sneakers that hang from the occasional power line. The new quality of life page includes:

a simple list

a bundle of vCards to download for your phone

an iPhone-optimized webpage

and printable wallet cards

Follow the link....

UPDATE: Bernie O'Hare, the Valley's best blogger, reminds me that I should disclose that my wife is director of Allentown's Redevelopment Authority. Thanks Bernie.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Implementing Better Models for Development in the Lehigh Valley"

From Renew Lehigh Valley:
Mark your calendar for an important and informative community program!

On Thursday, January 24, Ed McMahon - a Senior Fellow at the Urban Land Institute - will give a presentation on “Implementing Better Models for Development in the Lehigh Valley.” The program runs from 6:30 - 8:30 P.M. at Allentown’s Symphony Hall. (Please see the attached flyer for program details and contact information.)

The sprawling development that is devouring our open space, increasing traffic congestion and handicapping efforts to revitalize our cities and boroughs is fostered by flawed land-use management practices. The development model that has been the norm in the Lehigh Valley perpetuates this detrimental pattern of development.

Improving land-use practices requires a concerted effort in each of our regions 62 municipalities. Although the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) provides guidance for municipalities and can incorporate smart growth measures into its comprehensive plan for the Lehigh Valley, land-use decisions are ultimately up to each municipality. If municipality chooses to ignore the LVPC’s comprehensive, that is their prerogative. Changes in land-use practices must occur at the municipal level.

The responsibility for implementing better models for development in the Lehigh Valley rests on our municipal leaders. This program will better inform you on the changes needed so you can let your local leaders know that you want action.

The program is being hosted by Lehigh and Northampton Counties, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, The Conservation Fund and the Wildlands Conservancy.

Please join us on January 24, and be sure to pass this along to anyone who might be interested in attending.

Best regards,

Kevin Conrad
Campaign Coordinator
Renew Lehigh Valley
1337 East Fifth Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Office: 484.893.1060
Fax: 610.691.6582

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Things are coming up Roses on 7th street...literally!!! But why stop there when we can have tulips and orchids and houseplants and and...the list goes on and on! Seventh Street Development Committee is thrilled to announce our newest business grand opening - Paradise Floral Designs. Brothers Anthony and Jose are recent additions to the area, New York trained and bring not only quality designed floral arrangements but a sweet disposition ensuring the highest customer service - add to this the charming shop they have established and we've hit another home run!
I brought a bouquet as a birthday present to brunch this weekend and the positive comments were's a sneak peak at some of their arrangements!

Please stop in at 345 N 7th street and welcome them to our neighborhood.
Paradise Floral Designs is the 3rd business to open during our Main Street program initiative and is indicative of the ongoing Renaissance in Allentown.
Enjoy...Pete from 7th

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hey Mon...

There's new good eats on 7th Street as of last Sunday...the Seventh Street Development Committee is proud to announce the grand opening of Nixx's Jamaican & Soul Food Restaurant, 130 N 7th.
With delicious entrees like Curry Shrimp and Rice, BBQ Chicken with Macaroni and Cheese and Collards not to mention Breakfast specials (yes there's grits) we are thrilled to have Nicole and husband Richie as our newest 7th street merchants!
This is the second business to open during our Main Street program's tenure and we are in the planning stages of this restaurant's facade.
Nicole is currently doing take out only and hopes to add a dining room in the near future...if you are in the mood for some good comfort food during the winter, please stop in and try her cooking...(I had the chicken and mac and cheese and it was yummy!)