Saturday, March 17, 2007

NET Swing Lessons and Dance

Always wanted to learn to swing dance? Now's your chance! Join NET for basic swing dancing lessons at 7 p.m. A dance will be held afterwards at 8 p.m.

You MUST RSVP to attend this event. Please RSVP no later than Wednesday, March 28th to Vanessa Williams at

When: Saturday, March 31, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Where: Trexlertown Fitness Club, 6900 Hamilton Blvd., Allentown - in the Trexler Mall

Cost: $12 for NET members, $15 for non-members

Contact: Vanessa Williams at

Friday, March 16, 2007

Downtown revitalization on the upswing

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce intends to focus on our three downtowns here in the Valley, as spelled out in today's Morning Call:

"The chamber envisions fewer storefront vacancies, a better mix of businesses, more jobs downtown and increased spending for improvements.
To achieve these goals, the Chamber plans to raise more than $1 million from the state, counties, local governments and companies. It then would distribute the money through grants.

The Chamber's leaders see revitalization of the Valley's cities and boroughs as a moral and economic imperative. ''There is no doubt there is a void when it comes to the urban cores,'' Chamber President Tony Iannelli said. ''They have been left behind.''

Elected officials praise the Chamber for the attention it has paid to the downtowns and for the community-based organization it has created. Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham was so impressed that he hired Virginia Savage, a former Chamber downtown manager.

''They have taken a very active role in downtown development issues,'' Cunningham said. ''The partnership is logical. There is room for a funding flow that actually ends up saving us dollars.''

Northampton County Executive John Stoffa said he has no immediate plans to give the foundation money. But he supports some of its objectives. He is impressed by the growth of the Chamber, which he said has ''tentacles'' in every town and city.

Two years ago, the Chamber helped Easton land a five-year state Main Street grant. The Chamber also helped orchestrate an ongoing $90,000 state grant to pay the salaries of downtown managers for nine boroughs: Alburtis, Catasauqua, Coopersburg and Macungie in Lehigh County, and Bangor, Bath, Hellertown, North Catasauqua and Wilson in Northampton County."

This comes at a critical time where Bethlehem's Elm Street Improvement program is getting off the ground, and there has been talk of recreating the Downtown Allentown Association.

Please send Tony Ianelli, a note thanking him for taking on this important initiative at

This is good news to talented young people who typically choose to locate primarily in the center of a region. A three-mile circle generally corresponds to the commercial heart and close-in neighborhoods in each metropolitan area. In 2000 they were 33 percent more likely to live in the close-in neighborhoods.

Critical, since two thirds of Americans ages 25 through 34 say they’re deciding first where they want to put down roots, and then looking for a job in that place, according to a report by CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders.

This conflicts with the common misconception that young professionals will go anywhere for a job. Not true. Talented young professionals choose places to live based not solely on productive considerations, but on amenities and consumption opportunities, community, social and family considerations. What many people refer to as "quality of place."

Palmerton Ball Field Debate continues

Businessmen trying to buy part of a ball field from Palmerton Area School District to build a Rite Aid pharmacy said they haven't given up their plans yet despite public opposition.

In fact, they say they hope to rally support by detailing plans to improve part of the Seventh Street Field in Palmerton that would remain, and funding development of at least four fields near the Palmerton Area Junior High School and Palmerton Area High School complex in Lower Towamensing Township.

Rite Aid wants to buy 1.5 acres of the 3.73-acre park to build a 15,000-square-foot store. Rite Aid has a store on Delaware Avenue in Palmerton, but it's only about 5,000 square feet in size.
Borough residents opposed to the sale noted it's one of the few ball fields in the community.

Developers would improve the remaining 2.33 acres of the Seventh Street field with lights, fencing, possibly artificial turf and others improvements suggested by the public.

NET in today's Morning Call Business Section

There is a brief blurb in the Morning Call today about our Business Card exchange last night:

"A nonprofit group that helps young professionals to network in the Lehigh Valley received a $10,000 state grant to promote itself and host events.

The money will help the Network of Young Professionals kick off a corporate fundraising campaign and raise its profile, president Abraham Nemitz said.

The group was founded in 2000 to encourage young professionals to stay in the area by helping them build social networks and find fun activities locally, Nemitz said. It now has 1,022 people on its e-mail list, 200 dues-paying members and hosts two monthly events, he said.

Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, helped the group get the grant from the state department of community and economic development."

We had a good turnout last night, with around 40 young professionals and community leaders attending. It was held at the Allentown Art Museum, who opened up the galleries for us. Special thanks to Farr Lofts for sponsoring the event!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ethnic Eats: Southampton Fish & Chips

Southampton Fish & Chips
15 E. Fourth Street
Bethlehem PA

From the Morning Call:

Southampton Fish & Chips is an outpost of its original Easton eatery, which has been serving up British fare for about a year. The original restaurant is primarily ''take away,'' as the Brits say, and that continues in this new location, where there's restaurant-style seating for dining-in as well.

NET in the News

If you haven't seen it already, check out the scene section of this month's Lehigh Valley Style. There are photos of the NET's First Thursday mixer. You may be famous! NET Members get a free subscription to Lehigh Valley Style. Not a member yet? Join now!

Outstanding Organizational Meeting Turnout

I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who turned up for the New Member Orientation and Organizational meeting. We had an excellent turn out - roughly 20-25 people! I was very excited to see so many new faces that are interested in the NET.

Please keep all your great ideas coming.

Hope to see you tonight to celebrate our new grant at the Allentown Art Museum.

Your faithful blog writer,

Vanessa Williams

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Effen Takeover of the South Side

Join Takeover LV and Pride of the GLV as they “takeover” the South Side of Bethlehem. Start the night at McGrady’s with discount drinks, make your way down Third Street and take advantage of the in-store discounts, live music, refreshments, entertainment and freebies that 14 South Side Bethlehem businesses have to offer. End the run at Looper’s with the Effen Vodka Taste Test and low priced martini’s. Finish your night at Diamonz Night Club with free admission and the first drink on the house!

When: Friday, March 23 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Southside Bethlehem

Cost: $25 in advance, or $30 night of.
Bracelets are available online at paypal or at Home & Planet. McGrady’s will only be selling the bracelets the night of the event. All proceeds benefit Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley. The benefits are only available with the purchase of a bracelet.

Benefits include:
McGrady’s Pub selling bracelets & drink specials
Cleo’s Lucky draw (10-25% off), live entertainment, refreshments
Home & Planet DJ Eric Swanson, wine & cheese, in-store specials
Monsoon Gallery 15% off original prices
Tallarico’s Chocolates Rum Cherry samples & 10% off product
Fox Optical discounted frames, deep discount off sunglasses, refreshments
Clothesline Organics refreshments & in-store specials
Comfort & Joy 10% off all merchandise, free Mrs. Meyers samples & refreshments
Wadsworth & Co. Antiques chocolate covered fruit, 10% off merchandise, courtyard live entertainment (weather permitting)
Spa SoleilDJ Mary Glennon, chocolate fountain, hor d’oeurves, free chair massages, on the spot Brazil wax for the women, booking specials for couples massage, free skin analysis
Glen Anthony Designs Jazz quartet, light refreshments & 10% discount & specialty priced items
TimeZone’s Framing and CafĂ© in-store specials
American Male Salon 10% off retail, parafin dips, refreshments
Looper’s Bar & Grille Effen vodka taste test, newly created “TakeOver Martini” special & discount martini menu

Where are you off to for St. Patrick's Day?

Recommended Irish and British pubs/bars:
  • Southampton Fish & Chips , 15 E 4th St Bethlehem, PA 18015 (610) 865-2602 and 77 N. 4th Street Easton, PA 18042 (610) 923-0209
  • Bridgeworks Irish Pub and Grill, Fourth and New Sts., Bethlehem, 610-868-1313
  • Mahony's Irish Pub, 1609 Hanover Ave., Allentown, 610-433-6170
Special Events:

Banana Joe's in Allentown is hosting a 3-day celebration Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Crocodile Rock Cafe is hosting a Crystal Roxx St. Patty's Party

Blue Monkey Sports Restaurant St. Patricks Celebration starting at noon with Right Hand Red at 10 p.m.

Any other recommendations?

Bringing Sexy Back Fashion Show

Dress to impress. Gentlemen, jackets please. Proceeds benefit National Ovarian Cancer

When: Saturday, March 24th, Doors open at 6:30 p.m., Casino 7 - 10 p.m., Fashion Show at 10 p.m., DJ and dancing until 2 a.m.

Where: Bacio Italian Trattoria, 1259 South Cedar Crest Boulevard

Cost: $25 Individual/ $40 per couple in advance (includes hors d'oeuvres, dinner and $5 in Casino Chips)

For more information or to RSVP 610-821-1102.

Allentown looks to change zoning to spurr redevelopment

Allentown is a city trying to reshape its image, and officials believe one way to do it is to reconsider how business districts and neighborhoods fit together.

Starting this week, a task force of eight people appointed by the mayor will begin studying how to revise the city's zoning code, the laws that dictate what is allowed to be built where and how it should look.

The goal, according to Mayor Ed Pawlowski and some task force members, is not to gut the current laws, but to adjust them so they are more consistent and predictable and meet the city's changing needs.

''Some of the development that people want to see happen, since land is such a premium now, they're picking the more difficult sites to develop, and some of the sites really aren't zoned appropriately,'' said task force member Fred Banuelos, president of Alliance for Building Communities.

Pawlowski said the committee could examine boundaries where residential and commercial districts meet, to better protect residents and allow for commercial growth.

''Are our zones appropriate for what a modern city needs to be?'' he questioned.

The task force will examine development densities and standards and try to encourage flexibility and quality in design, Pawlowski said.

''The West End Theater District is a perfect example of an area where we want to encourage commercial redevelopment and reuse while protecting the traditional heritage and residential nature of the neighborhood,'' Pawlowski said.

Karen Pooley, task force co-chairwoman and an urban planner, said the group probably will focus on the entrances to the city and on major commercial and neighborhood streets.

Pooley said there are situations where the current rules, written in 2000, are not helping neighborhoods or gateways as the city envisions.

She believes a proposal last year to build an AutoZone auto parts store at 19th and Tilghman streets in part sparked the need to review the zoning laws.

''I know that caught a lot of people's attention,'' she said.

Many residents protested that plan. They feared a store with a large parking lot would not fit in with the compact, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.

City officials approved the project, but AutoZone opted not to build the store.

Pawlowski has asked the task force to report its recommendations within six months. The task force will hold public meetings, the first of which is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday at Alliance for Building Communities, 830 Hamilton St.

Difficulty at Campus Square at Lehigh

Five years ago, then-Lehigh University President Gregory Farrington declared he was bringing down the wall around the campus and building a $25 million bridge into the community.

Campus Square would not only include student dorms, but four businesses that would give students and residents a place to build a town-gown relationship that to that point had been strained.

Today, two of those businesses have failed, leaving university officials with the realization that you can take the campus to the residents but you can't make them drink coffee.

Pastaficio Italian restaurant closed March 2 and Jazzman's coffee shop will close May 20, when students leave for the summer, a company spokeswoman confirmed. Johnny's Bagels & Deli will replace Pastaficio by month's end, and Lehigh officials say Jazzman's won't be vacant long.

John Zohir has spent seven years building a customer base for his Main Street shop. It has become so popular that at times, particularly on weekends, the line out the door is filled with Lehigh students who traveled more than a mile off campus to get there.

Zohir said he'll use Pastaficio's equipment until the end of May. Then he'll close over summer break to remodel the space into a restaurant that will include a large fish tank, fireplace, flat-screen television, cappuccino bar and an Internet cafe he hopes will appeal to students and residents.

''I have an emotional attachment to this project,'' Zohir said. ''I feel very confident about this location.''

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Single in the Valley 2007

When: Sunday, March 25, 5 - 9 p.m.

Where: Looper's Grille and Bar,

Admission: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

For tickets and more information call 610-691-8833.