For decades, the Urban Land Institute has set the standard in recognizing outstanding real estate development projects, related programs, and visionaries in urban development. ULI recognizes a wide range of project types, sizes, and initiatives in its award programs—from housing to commercial and mixed-use development and new communities, from open spaces to policy initiatives, and both profit and nonprofit. ULI Awards for Excellence recognize the full development process of a project, not just its architecture or design—although these elements play an important role in the overall project.
ULI is pleased to announce that the Downtown Allentown Revitalization District has been awarded the 2017 ULI Global Award for Excellence. Allentown, Pennsylvania’s 3rd largest city has now become fastest-growing city in the state, thanks in large part to an innovative state law that created the Neighborhood Improvement Zone.
The anchor of the revitalization is a 5.3-acre (2 ha) block containing PPL Center, a 10,000-seat multipurpose arena; an integrated mixed-use development that includes retail, dining, health and wellness, hotel, and commercial office spaces; plus two historic buildings and structured parking. The Arena Block redevelopment features extensive adaptive use and reactivation of the historic Dime Bank Building, which anchors the arena’s main entrance and serves as the lobby of the Renaissance Allentown Hotel.
“Allentown’s comprehensive approach to urban development ensured that the long-term success of the project would not be compromised,” said 2017-2018 Global Awards Jury Chairman Wendy Rowden, president of 42nd Street Development Corp. in New York City.
Since its completion in 2014 by the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority, the Arena Block redevelopment has been the catalyst for extensive additional private development, led by City Center Investment Corp. City Center’s major mixed-use development, City Center Lehigh Valley, is helping reposition the downtown as a regional center for business, culture, and metropolitan living.
The Pennsylvania Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell accepted the ULI Global Award of Excellence for the Downtown Allentown Revitalization District on November 17 during a halftime ceremony at the Villanova Basketball Doubleheader at PPL Center in Allentown. He was joined at center court by Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Mike Butz from Alvin H. Butz Inc., ULI Philadelphia Advisory Board member and Lehigh Valley Council Co-chair Becky Bradley, Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority Chairman Sy Traub, General Manager of PPL Center Gunnar Fox, ULI Philadelphia Advisory Board member and Lehigh Valley Council Co-chair Jason Engelhardt, State Senator Pat Browne, Chief Counsel for Sen. Browne’s Office Stacey Connors, and City Center Investment Corp. President J.B. Reilly.
“Receiving the ULI Global Award for Excellence is proof that the NIZ is doing exactly what it was created to do,” said Senator Pat Browne. “The NIZ incentives have turned a severely challenged downtown into one that is benefiting not only the entire Lehigh Valley but the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well. The ongoing revitalization of Downtown Allentown serves as a world model of what can be achieved through public incentives combined with private investments.”
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Photo Credit: Center City Allentown