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Arena authority hires only law firm to bid on solicitor's contract

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Oct 04 2012 07:17:23 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 04 2012 07:17:34 PM CDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The authority overseeing the building of the hockey arena and hotel and office complex in downtown Allentown now has its own law firm.

The Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority voted Thursday afternoon to hire King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul of Bethlehem as its first paid solicitor. The contract with KingSpry will run through the end of next year.

ANIZDA chairman Sy Traub said that several firms were asked to compete for the contract, but KingSpry was the only one that did. ANIZDA member Alan Jennings said the authority was fortunate nonetheless. "If we were going to get only one proposal, this is the one we would want," he said.

KingSpry will be paid a $200 a month retainer, or $2,400 each year. For litigation services not covered by the retainer, the authority be billed $170 an hour for attorneys fees and $85 an hour for paralegal fees. For non-litigation services, attorneys fee will drop to $150, with the paralegal hourly rate remaining the same.

Jerome B. Frank will be the main KingSpry attorney working with the authority.

In KingSpry's proposal to become solicitor, Frank said he sees no conflict of interest in serving as ANIZDA solicitor and as counsel to the Allentown Economic Development Corporation and the Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Authority.

Frank also pointed out in his letter that since early 2009, he has been involved in the development of the arena project and the Neighborhood Improvement Zone with both the AEDC and ACIDA, and that over the last three decades, KingSpry has worked with both groups in acquiring and leasing land and on developing projects.

Traub, a former chairman of the AEDC, praised Frank's selection, saying he has known and admired his work "for years and years and years."

Before the vote, Traub also thanked assistant city solicitor Fran Fruhwirth for her work with the authority, adding tongue-in-cheek, "I'm sorry to say we're going to replace you with a paid solicitor."

In other business, authority members agreed to study a proposal by Jennings that finance, community development, communications and administrative committees be formed.

Traub said he was happy with Tuesday's $24 million bond sale for the 8,500-seat hockey arena project, which, because of high demand, brought in an $8.7 million premium from investors. "The investment concerns expressed by some were not the concerns of the investment community," Traub observed tartly.