It's good news and bad news for downtown Allentown in a decision just announced by Talen Energy that it will be keeping its presence in the city's center, but not in the financially beleaguered PPL Plaza where it is currently located.
Talen Energy said it will move its operation to City Center’s Tower 6 at 600 Hamilton St., where it will occupy two floors. The tower, under construction, is in the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, which offers tax incentives for developers who can, in turn, offer cheaper rents. PPL Plaza also is in the NIZ.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski said he was pleased with the decision.
“I am very pleased that Talen is making a commitment to stay in downtown Allentown,” he said this morning. “The city has a lot to offer, and the benefits of locating in the NIZ are attractive. I was always confident that proposals from developers in Allentown would be given very careful consideration.”
Todd Martin, Talen media relations manager, said it was the final choice out of all of locations the company had been considering.
“Despite other low-cost opportunities, Talen Energy has selected office space within the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone,” Martin said in a statement. “We’re pleased to be able to maintain our historic roots in downtown Allentown.”
The question of whether Talen would move has loomed since it was created during a spinoff of PPL Corp.’s Energy Supply division in June 2015.
In that time, many economic development officials have suggested it could have been devastating to downtown development if Talen were to move out of the city because of the amount of money it contributes to the Neighborhood Improvement Zone.
However, by moving to a different building it creates a gaping hole in the PPL Plaza building at Ninth and Hamilton streets, which opened in 2003 and has been at risk for foreclosure. Talen is its major tenant.
Pawlowski expressed confidence in the building’s future.
“PPL Plaza is a good property,” he said. “Once the legal issues are sorted out, I believe it will prosper again.”
Martin said Talen will move into Tower 6 in the second quarter of 2018. The building is scheduled to open in May.
“We see this decision as beneficial to our business, our employees and the Greater Lehigh Valley, especially to others in the business community in downtown Allentown,” Martin said.
He said Talen has signed a five-year lease. He declined to comment on specifics of the lease.