Lehigh Valley state lawmakers confirm NIZ assessment

HARRISBURG, May 15 – In response to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s Assessment of the Effectiveness of the City of Allentown NIZ, state Sen. Nick Miller and state Reps. Mike Schlossberg, Peter Schweyer and Josh Siegel released the following statement:

“This report confirms what anyone who has been to downtown Allentown recently already knows: the NIZ has made a measurable and undeniable positive impact on the community. There are more jobs in Downtown Allentown as a result, and more than 27,000 employment opportunities created during construction of NIZ-funded development. While focused on commercial development, the NIZ helped to generate 1,287 new apartments in the NIZ and 243 in surrounding neighborhoods. The business climate in downtown Allentown is significantly better, with $1.15 billion in completed investment and $1.4 billion approved, millions of visitors to new downtown attractions — including 4 million visitors to the PPL Arena — and visitor growth will only increase with the completion of the Da Vinci Science Center and Archer Music Hall. Further, the NIZ has helped to decrease poverty levels from 49% in 2011 to 33% in 2021 and increased median household income by 58%

“This report also shows the NIZ has clearly had a community-wide benefit, beyond the general increased access to medical and education facilities, parks, recreation and community arts facilities. This includes vast public space improvement with funding that has been used to improve streetscapes, parks, plazas, infrastructure, and other amenities downtown and along the Lehigh River and over $23 million in approved public infrastructure and improvement projects. New construction in the NIZ has increased annual property tax revenue for the Allentown School District (additional $5.4 million annually in new property tax revenue) and the City of Allentown and Lehigh County (additional $2 million combined annually). Finally, the NIZ contributed to a 50% reduction in violent crimes, which outpaces the rest of the city, surrounding communities and other cities in Pennsylvania.

“For decades, downtown Allentown was in major decline, which had ripple effects across the city and the Lehigh Valley. The NIZ has changed that story. Allentown is on the rise along with the rest of the Lehigh Valley. There is a lot of work to be done, and we are committed to being partners in those efforts.  

“Finally, we commend the leaders of the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement District Authority Board of Directors for undertaking the work to evaluate the NIZ, and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission for the in-depth research and expertise which made this report possible.”