Christopher Shaw, Author at Center Square Lofts

City Center Investment Corp. commissions three murals for downtown Allentown’s Artswalk

City Center Investment Corp., the real estate development company revitalizing downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania, announced today it has commissioned three murals for Allentown’s ArtsWalk. Painted this spring by world-renowned artists from around the country, the murals will adorn outside walls of the historic Sovereign building, the Linden Parking Deck and the STRATA Annex building.

The first muralist, Miami-based Ernesto Maranje, began his work on the rear corner of the Sovereign building at 609 Hamilton Street on April 22. Maranje, a master painter, illustrator and muralist of animals, will spray-paint a large-scale red-tailed hawk on the wall overlooking the ArtsWalk pocket park. With an extensive worldwide collection, Maranje paints colorful, whimsical works that remind viewers of their connection to nature. The red-tailed hawk was chosen for Allentown to symbolize the tenacity and freedom of the region. The 50-foot by 50-foot mural will be completed in approximately two weeks.

A second mural, created by Brooklyn artist ELLE, is slated to begin at the end of May on the rear of the parking deck at 612 Linden Street, facing the ArtsWalk. ELLE’s mural, which is in the final design stages, will feature a strong woman representing the future, and made through the combination of history, mythology, various ethnicities, contemporary ideas and more. The mural is meant to show the perseverance and power of women. Although ELLE began as an illegal graffiti artist in New York, she is now considered one of the world’s top touring street artists and has worked with brands Reebok, IKEA, Smart Car and many more. ELLE was selected because of her recognized style of collaging images of people with various ethnicities. Her 60-foot-tall by 30-foot-wide spray-painted mural will also take roughly two weeks to produce.

The third mural is planned for the STRATA Annex building across the ArtsWalk from The Downtown Allentown Market, which is scheduled to open in the fall. Collaborative mural and street-art team NS/CB of Miami will begin their botanical-themed mural June 15.

“City Center is excited to introduce more public art in downtown Allentown,” said City Center Vice President of Project Design and Corporate Branding Jane Heft, who coordinated the project. “We hope it will inspire the community and become a source of pride for those who live and work here. The ArtsWalk will be alive with new beauty this summer.”

The muralists were curated by Dripped On Productions of New York City, an art production company specializing in murals and street art for developments, events and businesses, such as MasterCard, Pabst Blue Ribbon and ArtsQuest. The company’s CEO and cofounder, Denton Burrows, earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Lehigh University.

“Dripped On Productions has set its sights on Allentown in partnership with City Center to beautify and transform major parts of downtown Allentown with professionally executed murals and works to brighten, beautify and inspire a historical and diverse city,” Burrows said.

Allentown’s pedestrian-only ArtsWalk begins on Seventh Street across from the PPL Center and runs east past the STRATA West and East residential buildings to Sixth Street. It continues along both sides of Miller Symphony Hall and through the Arts Park to end at the Allentown Art Museum on Fifth Street.

City Center Investment Corp. previously commissioned two large-scale murals in downtown Allentown. In 2016, Amber Art and Design of Philadelphia installed a colorful stylized sunrise on the southwest corner of the Linden Parking Deck, facing the ArtsWalk, and in 2018, muralist Matt Halm created a seven-story mural inside a glass-enclosed stairwell in 520 Lofts, City Center’s residential building at 520 Hamilton Street.

City Center hires experts behind the Bourse Food Hall in Philadelphia to create the Downtown Allentown Market

City Center Investment Corp., the real estate development company revitalizing downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania, announced today it has hired two firms that helped launch The Bourse food hall in Philadelphia to create The Downtown Allentown Market. City Center is currently seeking merchants for the market, which will open on the ArtsWalk in the late summer or early fall of 2019.

City Center has partnered with Groundswell Design Group, a design firm specializing in place-making, public space activation and hospitality projects, and Cana Development, a commercial real estate development and brokerage firm that delivers mixed-use urban redevelopment projects with a focus on retail, hospitality and entertainment.

The Downtown Allentown Market will be located on the ArtsWalk in the 12,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by clothing stores Sage and Aquarius. It will feature nine bays for local and regional food merchants offering high-quality, fast-casual food and drink, such as sushi, baked goods and coffee, soups and salads, sandwiches, ethnic food, a noodle bar, craft beer or wine, to name a few. The Downtown Allentown Market will provide ample indoor seating and flexible space for events, programming and pop-up shops. Regional muralists will bring unique local flavor to the walls, and large-scale windows will connect seamlessly to outdoor seating along the ArtsWalk.

“City Center regularly surveys its residential and office tenants about what they’d like to experience in downtown Allentown, and an authentic, local food hall always tops their wish list. We listened and hired the experts at Groundswell and Cana Development to help us bring this exciting project to life,” said City Center’s Retail Leasing and Activation Manager Natalia Stezenko. “We’re making it really easy for merchants to join us in this unique venture with beautiful, fully equipped, turnkey bays for cuisine and beverages of all types.”

Bays will range in size from 287 to 575 square feet to accommodate different food concepts, and the bays will be delivered to merchants in a way that allows for easy activation. Rent will be a percentage of a merchant’s gross sales and includes use of City Center’s liquor license for qualified merchants who wish to serve alcohol. Merchants can learn more and apply at or follow the project on Facebook or Instagram at @DowntownAllentownMarket.

Groundswell Design Group, headquartered in Philadelphia and Detroit, has a robust portfolio of projects from large public parks, land art installations, restaurants and distilleries, to intimate cafés and pop-up activations – all rooted in a community-first approach. The team focuses on weaving a sense of place within each design concept, drawing inspiration from the site, neighborhood and community. Among its most recognized projects are The Bourse food hall and Spruce Street Harbor Park in Philadelphia, Sparkman Wharf in Tampa and Hangar 1 Vodka in Alameda, California.

“Our team shares a passion to design, develop and build projects that forge positive change in a community,” said Groundswell Principal David Fierabend. “From a bustling winter market in Detroit to a vodka distillery overlooking the San Francisco Bay, our group’s mission is to drive place-making forward. We’re exciting to partner with City Center in the creation of a public market on the beautiful ArtsWalk and hope it will become a jewel of the city.”

Cana Development has developed more than 2 million square feet of commercial space throughout the United States with a relentless approach to quality project development and food and retail management. Its team is well-versed in all aspects of food hall, marketplace, retail and entertainment-district development and has proven successful with large-scale, high-profile mixed-use projects, including The Bourse food hall in Philadelphia, Cross Street Market and Mount Vernon Marketplace in Baltimore and District Detroit, a mix of sports and entertainment venues and home to the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers.

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