The Seventh Street Main Street Program
Seventh Street, traditionally considered a highly visible gateway to the city, includes both a vital commercial area as well as low-density residential properties. Surrounded by the City’s historic districts, Seventh Street is lined with restaurants, retailers, a variety of service providers, and residences. The Main Street program covers a seven block area of Seventh Street in Allentown, with nearly 110 commercial storefronts existing in the project area between Hamilton and Washington Streets. The purpose of the Main Street program is to stimulate the economic revitalization of depressed urban areas and foster self-sufficiency among property and business owners by physically restoring the buildings in the program area.
The Seventh Street Development Committee (SSDC) works with the Main Street Manager on the strategic implementation of the five-year Main Street plan. Goals of the Main Street program include:
1) creating a commercial area that offers customers a wide variety and depth of goods and services in a clean and safe environment
2) increasing the area’s attractiveness by featuring its historic architectural assets and initiating greening and safety projects along the street
3) enhancing and celebrating the area’s cultural and ethnic diversity wherever possible
4) promoting a positive image of Seventh Street to the wider communities of Allentown and the Lehigh Valley. Successes of the Main Street program since 2007 include:
· 25 new businesses have opened, 14 in 2009 alone;
· 25 buildings have participated in the façade program, 16 have been completed;
· 66 new trash cans have been distributed along the street;
· City zoning was influenced to allow for outdoor café tables and chairs at local restaurants;
· Nearly two dozen highly visible planters have been places along the street;
· A children’s community garden has been planted at a local neighborhood center;
· A community information kiosk was installed and is maintained by the Seventh Street Development Committee;
· A significant decrease in crime each year since the program’s inception. UCR statistics report a drop in Type I crime of 19.4% and 10.2% for Type II crime between 2008 and 2009.
For more information, visit www.7thstreetallentown.org.
The Main Street program is made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and by the support of local government, foundations, and corporations; including: the City of Allentown, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, The Century Fund, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Lehigh County.