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Community Forum: Lessons from Allentown

by The Berks Alliance

Sep 30, 2019

As efforts are underway to revitalize Reading, what lessons can we learn from other communities that are being transformed?

Thu, October 17, 2019

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM EDT


Schmidt Center

Reading Area Community College , Reading PA 19602

10 South Second Street

Reading, PA 19602


We can always learn from the efforts of others, particularly when it comes to revitalizing our older cities. What has worked and what hasn’t. The experience in Allentown offers a great opportunity to learn. How did Allentown get developers to deal with the risk of downtown development and rehabbing older properties? How important was support and engagement by the city and the county? Were there particular obstacles that had to be addressed? And what could Reading learn from Allentown’s experience? We understand each community is different, but often the challenges and solutions can adapt and translate from place to place.

City Center Allentown:

City Center Allentown is a major mixed-use development that is helping transform downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania, into one of America’s most vibrant urban communities and a regional center of excellence for business, culture and metropolitan living. With Allentown’s new arena, PPL Center, at its core, City Center includes more than 1.5 million square feet among five Class A office towers, the Renaissance Allentown Hotel, six residential communities, upscale retail and restaurant space and a coworking space called Velocity. City Center’s total investment in downtown Allentown is $455 million, with another $235 million under development and $300 million in the planning stages. In 2017, the Downtown Allentown Revitalization District was honored with a Global Award of Excellence by the Urban Land Institute.

JB Reilly:

J.B. Reilly is the President of City Center Investment Corporation (CCIC). Reilly formed CCIC with Joseph V. Topper Jr. in 2011, and the company is currently developing City Center Allentown a $1 billion mixed-use project. He has more than 30 years of experience in commercial and residential real estate development and planning, urban redevelopment, property management, finance management and law. His career includes the successful development of diverse real estate assets, including apartment complexes, lifestyle communities, office towers, a full-service hotel and historic renovations.

He has served on several corporate boards. Reilly served on the Board of the Lehigh Valley Health Network, including serving as chair. He also has served on the Board of his alma mater, Lafayette College as well as DeSales University. Reilly earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Lafayette College and a law degree from Fordham University. A Certified Public Accountant and is also a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

We’ve asked two community leaders in other cities to share their observations about what is happening in their communities, as well as what lessons can we take from the Allentown Experience.

Larry Newman, the CEO of Diamond City Partnership in Wilkes-Barre has been a major force in the transformation of that city.

Twila Fisher, manager of Community and Economic Development at the Hill School in Pottstown, has been a leader of revitalization efforts in that community.




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