When Douglas Pelletier, founder and CEO of Trifecta Technologies, moved his company to downtown Allentown three years ago, he was among the first to join the urban redevelopment movement that was beginning to take root.
At that time, there were few who were completely sold on the idea that Allentown could have a thriving business community once again in its downtown.
Then, as new office, retail and residential developments began rising out of the ground, others in the business community began to join the movement.
But Pelletier and his company already were there.
Trifecta Technologies moved into a building built in 1910, a block from PPL Center in Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone. The NIZ features a tax incentive that has fueled more than $1 billion in construction of new buildings and renovations of existing ones. However, Pelletier began the search for a bigger home in 2013 before PPL Center and its centerpiece ice hockey arena opened.
“I was bringing in a substantially high tax base because the employees are paid well,” Pelletier said. “I brought my staff down here; we toured the building. I think they all shared the excitement and they all thought they were changing the face of Allentown. When they started the construction of the arena, the riffraff traffic diminished by about 50 percent.”
LURE FOR MILLENNIALS
In 2013 and early 2014, Pelletier spent some time in the downtown with his employees, visiting spots such as Allentown BrewWorks to get a feel for how the city was changing amid the new redevelopment.
Now, Trifecta, which has 60 employees, occupies space in the renovated former Schoen’s Furniture Store on Hamilton Street that offers a clear view of the entrance to PPL Center from one of the office’s many large windows.
It was a seamless transition for the information technology business-solutions provider.
Pelletier saw Allentown’s urban setting, then on the cusp of redevelopment, as the perfect setting.
“First and foremost, I looked at the next generation of people I’m hiring here, the millennials, and this is what they want,” Pelletier said. “I would have considered moving out in the country and I got sold on the idea that this what people want.”
Before he moved Trifecta to the city’s core in summer 2014, Pelletier thought about expanding the firm’s existing home in suburban Wescosville and looked at land in Center Valley.
But after hearing developer J.B. Reilly and his company City Center Lehigh Valley’s presentation on its vision for the downtown, Pelletier became interested.
Pelletier worked out an arrangement with the building’s owners, Jeff and Doug Brown, principals of Charles Street Capital, to bring his two dogs to his workplace as regular companions.
Pelletier ended up buying a portion of the building, as well, and has a 25-percent stake.
SPACE ON FOUR LEVELS
With a street-level restaurant space occupied by Bell Hall, loft-style office space on the second through sixth floors and a rooftop terrace, the building offers a true mixed-use concept with a variety of tenants.
Trifecta occupies space on the fourth through sixth floors and rooftop terrace. Shane Patrick Associates, project construction manager, occupies the third floor and fit it out to look similar to Trifecta’s space.
Offix Systems occupies part of the second floor, a floor that has 11 suites and a shared conference room. Tenants include entrepreneurs, financial service advisers and a benefits company.
“As some of the spaces become available, we fill them up again,” said Cindy Feinberg of Feinberg Real Estate Advisors, who marketed the property. “That’s what’s unique about the building. There’s definitely a need for that in the city.”
The property features an interior design best described as vintage industrial, with a lot of glass, steel and wood.
Pelletier has a corner office with a New York-style fire escape above his desk that serves as a dog loft for his two Labrador retrievers.
“We had some changes to the design,” Pelletier said. “We decided to put in a sheer curtain glass wall. It made it all worthwhile.”
The original red brick wall on the east side is mixed with the new glass curtain wall on the west side facing the arena, offering a nod to the past with a view into the future.
‘PEOPLE WANT TO WORK HERE’
The building’s features include flexible office space, a rooftop and basement lounge, two libraries and a café, all of which can be used as work spaces. Fifty flat screen televisions are spread throughout Trifecta’s spaces.
“This has become an attraction point for Trifecta,” Pelletier said. “People want to work here.”
Having what he described as “the coolest place in downtown Allentown to work” proved to be a strong selling point in hiring.
Luckily, an historic, 250-year-old church is to the west of Trifecta’s building, so even though lots of development is occurring around it, that structure will remain unchanged, Pelletier said.
ROOM FOR GROWTH
Though Pelletier said he was reluctant to spend much more money investing in the building, he said he would like to landscape the rooftop terrace to add flower gardens and sitting areas for working.
“Right now, we are looking at plans to landscape our rooftop,” he said. “We have a vision for what we would like to do.”
With City Center putting up more apartment buildings, Pelletier said he expects to see more employees moving into this area, noting that the walkability factor allows people to reduce transportation costs.
“We’ve got room for a lot of growth,” he said.