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New homes rise on site destroyed by Allentown fire

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 04 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 05 2013 05:30:33 AM CDT

A center city Allentown neighborhood is rising from the ashes.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A center city Allentown neighborhood is rising from the ashes.

Nearly 10 years after a fire wiped out most of an entire block of North Street, destroying six homes, a new era has begun.

Tuesday we got a sneak peak at the progress that's been made since.

In the shadow of Allentown's Sacred Heart Hospital sits Jordan Heights, a neighborhood brought back from the dead.

"Here we're able to provide good affordable product and try and re-seed a neighborhood that had been abandoned by stakeholders," said Dan Evans, the Executive Director of Housing Association and Development Corp.

Nearly 10 years ago a cooking fire destroyed much of the street.

It was a neighborhood police say was ripe with crime and decay but today the 43 cramped living units on the block have been replaced.

There's now nine owner occupied town homes on one side and six more now on the other side. Those are all aimed at low to moderate level income workers, who can afford conventional mortgages.

Bukky Akinyemi moved in last year.

"I'm happy. I think it will bring development in the area. More homeowners and makes the area more secure," said Akynyemi.

The development stems from the Neighborhood Partnership Program, a mix of private and public funds which allows corporations to receive tax credits for donations.

"The idea is you drop a stone in the pond and it has a ripple affect and moves out," said Evans.

The effect appears to be working. Allentown police say since the new town homes started going up five years ago crime went down.

"We don't have disturbances at homes anymore. Don't have problems of loitering, complaints and stuff like that. It's a nice neighborhood," said Allentown Police Captain Glen Dorney.

For phase two, one home has been sold and another is under agreement. However, until another unit is bought the project won't receive enough money from the bank to fully complete the project.