Tuesday, March 31, 2015

PPL center sparks debate on gentrification

PPL center sparks debate on gentrification The Brown and White - http://thebrownandwhite.com/2015/03/26/allentown-ppl-center-gentrification/ The $177 million PPL Center at Seventh and Hamilton streets in Allentown, which opened in September as part of Mayor Pawlowski’s plan to revitalize the downtown, has already been nominated for two prestigious worldwide awards. Home to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms minor league hockey team, as well as chain restaurants Chickie’s and Pete’s and Tim Hortons, the PPL Center has hosted concerts by The Eagles, Tom Petty and Rascal Flatts. The location and the 10,000-person seating capacity have extended the reach of the event center to the Philadelphia region and make it a desirable venue for major acts. But Michael DeCrosta, a sociology graduate student and Bethlehem local, called the efforts a prime example of gentrification, or the act of development to the point of local displacement. “I’m always wary of developers having too large of a hand in revitalizing an urban downtown area like Allentown,” DeCrosta said. As a sociology student, DeCrosta said he thinks in terms of race and class. By developing upper-class condominiums, corporate offices and expensive restaurants, he said Allentown is creating a “white space.” “A minor league hockey team may be the whitest thing ever,” he said. In a city where nearly half the residents identify as Hispanic, critics of the development worry that the efforts don’t reflect the local population.

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