(Frank Smith)

Downtown Allentown Revitalization District, Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA
Owners/developer: Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority, Hammes Company, City Center Investment Corp., et al. 
Designers: Sink Combs Dethlefs Architects (now Perkins+Will), Elkus–Manfredi Architects, et al.)
Size: 10 acres (4 ha) 

While Pennsylvania’s two largest cities, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, were being revitalized, the third largest, Allentown, continued to decline—until recently. Today, Allentown is the 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. 

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. 

City Center includes more than 1 million square feet (93,000 sq m) of space in three Class A office towers, the Renaissance Allentown Hotel, the Strata West apartment tower, and the Shops at City Center, including restaurant space, historic renovations, a coworking space, and more than 1,500 parking spaces. City Center’s total investment in downtown Allentown is $400 million, with additional development of office, residential, retail, and green space underway. 

The revitalization also includes the 40,000-square-foot (3,700 sq m) Trifecta building, an early-20th-century building converted into loft-style, Class A office suites and retail space. In addition, the seven-story mixed-use Butz Corporate Center Phase II expansion is 95 percent leased.