Seven Allentown cultural groups will be taking-up residency in Alliance Hall.
At a late morning news conference in City Council Chambers and flanked by representatives of the groups, Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced that this spring the groups will move into space recently vacated by the Lehigh Conference of Churches’ move to Dubbs Memorial Community Center at 457 Allen Street.
At Pawlowski’s urging and pending final approval of the Alliance Hall Board and the boards of the individual organizations, the Jamaican Cultural Organization, Liberian Community Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, PuertoRican Cultural Preservation Inc., Interlace Cultural y Desarrollo Integral Mexicano, Dominican Cultural Organization, Indian American Association of the Lehigh Valley and Kenyan Community in the North East will locate their offices in the building.
“Allentown is a very diverse city and I saw an opportunity to bring so many of our young and growing groups together under one roof,” said Pawlowski. “Today, they are all meeting in household kitchens and living rooms across the city. They have no place to call their own. At Alliance Hall they will each have small office space and access to a second floor kitchen area where they can hold small events and joint meetings. There is great synergy in bringing these groups together.”
Alliance Hall of Allentown Inc., a 501 C 3, was originally formed in 1990. After a two- year renovation project the building at 245 N. Sixth Street, originally constructed in 1929 as the Jewish Community Center of Allentown, was rededicated as Alliance Hall. The project was put together by the City of Allentown, Allentown Housing Authority, the Lehigh Conference of Churches and Lehigh Valley Child Care with the aid of a HUD 108 loan, grants from the Trexler Trust and others and a community fundraiser.
Alliance Hall is home to the Allentown Health Bureau, Lehigh Valley Child Care, Housing Association Development Corporation (HADC) and until recently the Conference. The building is managed by the Alliance Hall Board comprised of representatives of the main occupants, including the Conference. It also houses Bethany Christian Services, which is responsible for refugee relocation, the Allentown Ecumenical Food Bank, the Conference’s Daybreak program and offices of AARP. Daybreak will be moving to the Conference’s new location. The other three will continue operations in their current space.
Dave Evans, Executive Director of HADC and current President of the Board for Alliance Hall said, "As a Board we were very supportive of the expanding ministry of the Conference of Churches and its service to the community that led to their decision to establish a larger dedicated facility for serving our community. At the same time, we were also concerned about the void it would leave at Alliance Hall. The Board is committed to assuring that the activity that occurs at Alliance Hall is aimed at serving the neighborhood. What a blessing it is that we can now bring this rich diversity of culture and history together under one roof. It has been a pleasure for me to work with the leaders of these seven diverse groups. I trust their presence and the cultural enrichment that will provide will be an equally blessed gift to the City of Allentown.”
Each of the seven cultural groups will have a separate lease. It is envisioned that a council formed by the seven cultural groups will manage the scheduling of their common space.
The signings of the leases will result from months of discussions involving Mayor Pawlowski, the Department of Community & Economic Development, Alliance Hall Board President Evans and representatives of the seven cultural groups.
It is coincidental that the original 25 year leases for the 1990 contingent expire on February 27, 2017. All will sign new one year extensions. That will allow time for the Alliance Hall by-laws to be amended to reflect that the Lehigh Conference of Churches will no longer be part of the Alliance Hall organization.