2020 Year in Review

Michelle Reid on January 5, 2021

2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges and remarkable resilience. Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as downtown employees worked remotely, restaurant and retail operations were disrupted, and major drivers of economic activity such as the PPL Center arena and adjacent Renaissance Hotel temporarily closed. 11 of the 16 public board and committee meetings held by ANIZDA throughout the year were held virtually as the business of the Authority was conducted via Zoom.

Despite these challenges, the residential market proved particularly resilient as newly constructed, amenity-rich apartments continued to attract residents seeking a vibrant downtown lifestyle and post-pandemic walk-to-work opportunities. In the summer, developer City Center Investment Corp completed and quickly leased up 120-unit City Place North. By year end, the developer had completed another 169 units at Center Square Lofts East. In response to strong occupancy, demand, and leasing activity in 2020, City Center commenced construction of residential projects Cityplace South and 950 Hamilton.

On the western banks of the Lehigh River, The Waterfront Development Company took steps to move forward with development of the first of twelve office and residential buildings and parking structures planned for The Waterfront.  The Authority board approved a bond issuance that will provide funding for 615 Waterfront Drive, a six-story, class A office building offering more than 100,000 rentable square feet of office space and approximately 14,000 square feet of first floor retail on the riverfront.

2020 was also noteworthy for the certification of over $86 million in program year 2019 NIZ Revenue, the largest annual amount certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue since program inception.