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Ceremonial steel signing signifies Allentown transformation

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 22 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 24 2013 04:49:38 AM CDT

The steel is rising in downtown Allentown.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The steel is rising in downtown Allentown. Tuesday a steel beam signing at Two City Center signified things are progressing as planned in the hockey arena project.

That signing of steel may only be ceremonial but the beam, set for Two City Center, not only signifies the transformation of downtown Allentown but also displays the strength of the city's one time controversial Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ).

"The NIZ played a role. What it allowed us to do was take a leadership role as National Penn into downtown Allentown area," said National Penn Bank CEO Scott Fainor.

National Penn Bank is moving its corporate headquarters from Boyertown, Berks County into Center City Allentown, becoming the lead tenant in the 11 story, 300,000 square-foot building, part of the Allentown Hockey Arena development.

The NIZ offers developers tax incentives inside the nearly 130 acre zone. Tenants are then offered favorable lease and rent deals.

National Penn President and CEO Scott Fainor admits those incentives helped but he also points to the design, scope and scale of the project.

"We think we're going to be better connected to our customers. We think Allentown and the Lehigh Valley are growing and we want to grow with that," Fainor said.

City Center developer JB Reilly says National Penn will drive the re-establishment of the financial district here.

"With such a large bank like National Penn, it will drive other financial services and professional firms into the downtown," Reilly said.

No matter who comes into downtown, the star of Tuesday's show was steel and the financial strength many are hoping it brings.

Two City Center is at 85% occupancy, which includes two accounting firms and a law firm.

National Penn says its new corporate office here will bring 275 jobs. The company expects to move in next summer.