CULTURAL ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT
Once the recognized regional center for commerce and business, Allentown's downtown area has experienced out-migration of its retail and office employment base and is under continuing competitive pressure from expanding suburban commercial centers. Despite these struggles, downtown Allentown has consistently maintained a strong government and cultural arts presence. The City, recognizing that its cultural assets can serve as a catalyst for economic growth -- and that greater coordination will benefit the arts community itself -- retained Kise Straw & Kolodner with Urban Partners to complete a Cultural Arts and Entertainment District Master Plan.
Urban Partners focused on the examination of development opportunities for vacant and underutilized properties within the study area. There are nine sites within a two-block radius of the "Art Park" being developed by the City and, for each, Urban Partners conducted market analysis to determine an appropriate and feasible use. The City has already moved forward in implementing two of these projects -- the conversion of a prominent vacant building to ground floor retail and upper floor residential units and the rehabilitation of the former Colonial Theater to professional office use -- and we developed a phasing strategy for development of the remaining sites.
Additionally, Urban Partners prepared a business plan for an Arts District management entity, that will be used to carry out marketing, promotion and events programming in the area.