$2.5 Million Grant To Aid Granite Building Hotel Project In Downtown Pittsburgh

DSC01828Gov. Tom Corbett delivered a $2.5 million state redevelopment assistance capital grant this morning to jump start Downtown’s latest hotel project — 104 rooms, three bars, and a brasserie-style restaurant at Wood Street and Sixth Avenue.

The $38 million independent boutique hotel will be housed in the Granite Building, a Romanesque-style structure built in 1889 and site of the former German National Bank. A building next door that once housed an Arby’s restaurant also will be part of the development.

The project is being developed by Holly Brubach, a former New York Times style editor who bought the Granite Building in 2006 with the intent of turning it into condominiums.

But that project was done in by the recession, prompting Ms. Brubach to change course.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/24/2-5M-grant-to-jump-start-Granite-Building-hotel-project-in-downtown-Pittsburgh/stories/201410240194

Easton Bacon Fest Hopes 30,000 Pounds Of Bacon Lasts Through Two-Day Festival

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first year Easton hosted Bacon Fest, it sold out of bacon by 11:30 a.m.

The second year, all the bacon was gobbled up by 1 p.m. And that was with a crowd estimated at 17,000 people.

This year, the free festival will mark its third year by covering two days, Nov. 8-9.

And after Fest 300 named Bacon Fest as one of the top 300 festivals in the world in May, organizers are preparing for a crowd of 50,000. At a news conference Wednesday, Easton Farmers’ Market Manager Megan McBride says they expect guests to go through 30,000 pounds of bacon.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/food/index.ssf/2014/10/easton_bacon_fest_hopes_30000.html

Large-Scale Batteries Are Integral In Shift To Renewable Energy

At Turkey Hill Dairy in Lancaster County, the secret ingredient in its ice cream is wind.

Along with conventionally derived power used to make its sweet treats, the dairy is the sole customer of a nearby wind farm, built in 2010, that provides 25 percent of its electricity.

“That’s honestly all we need,” said company spokeswoman Andrea Nikolaus.

Relying on wind for bigger operations, or to power the grid, is a different matter. As critics of renewable energy are quick to point out, the wind doesn’t always blow — or it does when customers don’t need it — and the sun doesn’t always shine on solar panels.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6805730-74/battery-energy-power#ixzz3GhmVa9jx
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Dan DeLuca: Forbes Under 30 Fest A Big Sign Philly Is World-Class Cool

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Way back in the 1990s, I started going to the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

Every March, I’d go back to find not only that the festival had gotten bigger and bigger – too big, it became clear this year, when four people were killed by a runaway drunken driver – but also that the city was mushrooming along with it.

In Austin, the livability factor is high – warm temperatures, live music, BBQ – and the stream of transplants so steady it doesn’t take long for new residents to start moaning about how everything was better before people who arrived after them came to town.

Which brings me to the latest indicator that everybody has figured out Philadelphia is a cool place to live. It’s the modeled-after-SXSW Forbes Under 30 Summit, the money magazine’s inaugural gathering of boldface billionaires and tech titans (and upstart entrepreneurs who wish to emulate them) that will take place in its planned-to-be permanent home from today until Wednesday.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20141019_Dan_DeLuca__Forbes_Under_30_fest_a_big_sign_Philly_is_world-class_cool.html#L2smIJJ3RURuueoT.99

Colebrookdale Railroad Unofficially Opens With First Public Ride

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boyertown, PA – Stepping through a rock-strewn railyard in Boyertown, families lined up to board the historic train that made its unofficial debut on the Colebrookdale line Saturday.

Beginning with a 10:30 a.m. departure for the first train, hayrides on the “Secret Valley Line” offered by the Colebrookdale Railroad drew in patrons of all kinds.

They were treated to a two-hour ride in a train used in 1869 through a valley of scenic fall foliage and other natural and historic attractions, travelling from Boyertown to Pottstown through Colebrookdale and Douglass (Berks) townships. Throughout the ride, historical narration was provided by train workers to give context to the sights along the way.

The line follows the Ironstone and Manatawny creeks and passes by the village of Pine Forge.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20141018/colebrookdale-railroad-unofficially-opens-with-first-public-ride

Oyster Festival Brings Food, Music To York Museum

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

York may not be known for its oysters, but according to the York County Heritage Trust, it hasn’t always been that way.

“When they were doing the restoration of the Colonial Complex, they found oyster shells in the ground surrounding the buildings,” said Melanie Hady, director of marketing and public relations at the trust.

“There was obviously some trade going on between our area and the Chesapeake Bay area.”

In tribute to that historic link, the trust is celebrating its 40th annual Oyster Festival 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26746337/oyster-festival-brings-food-music-york-museum

Pottstown Zoning Board Approves Variance For iCreate Cafe

iCreate Zoning Supporters

Front row: Left, Peter Dolan, Esquire, Right, Ashraf Khalil

POTTSTOWN, PA – Wednesday evening the Pottstown Zoning Board heard testimony from iCreate Cafe owner, Ashraf Khalil, regarding his request for a zoning variance to operate a cafe and computer training center at 130 King Street, Pottstown. The neighborhood is zoned TTN or Traditional Town Neighborhood.  After receiving a violation notice from the Pottstown Codes Department in August, a hearing was originally scheduled for September 17th.  However, Mr. Khalil’s attorney, Peter Dolan, requested a continuance to adequately prepare his case. The hearing was rescheduled for October 15th.

A large group of supporters gathered in the 3rd floor council chambers to hear the evidence be presented. After Mr. Khalil’s sworn testimony and some clarification questions from the board, the meeting was opened to public comment. More than a dozen people were allowed to speak in favor of iCreate Cafe and Mr. Khalil.

After the public testimony, the board met in Executive Session.  After a short recess, the board returned to the council chamber and rendered their verdict for Mr. Khalil and iCreate Cafe by allowing the variance.

First of all, we thank the Pottstown Zoning Board for being open-minded and seeing the value of this niche market small business that draws customers from all over the Delaware Valley and beyond.   Based on the passionate testimony made during the public comments, it’s obvious this is a very special place.

Secondly, we feel now that Pottstown is getting serious about economic development and tourism (by developing a Tourism District and leveraging all the attractions that surround Memorial Park and the Western Gateway) having a highly rated locally owned restaurant within walking distance is a win-win.  If you want people to come to Pottstown and “spend the day” they will need to eat.  They are not going to want fast food or chain restaurants.  They are going to want something they cannot get at home.  iCreate Cafe is the total package when it comes to something you cannot get just anywhere.  From the unique decor to the vegan/vegetarian food with a Middle Eastern flair, it’s far from ordinary.  Add a chef/owner with the gift of hospitality and you have a winning trifecta.

This was a great victory for small business and for Pottstown.  If Pottstown could attract more unique restaurants like iCreate and some funky boutiques so people could do some shopping while they are visiting, you would have yourself a destination.

Congratulations to Ashraf Khalil and iCreate Cafe.  We wish you much success.

Website: http://www.icreatecafe.org/

Tourism District Proposed For Pottstown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA – Officials are hoping that as the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, a collective effort of the borough’s revitalization efforts will result in greater sums of grant money and tourist dollars.

Steve Bamford, executive director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. outlined a plan to borough council Tuesday that would see the many attractions clustered near Pottstown’s western gateway joining together in pursuit of funding and marketing.

The joint undertaking as part of a “tourism and recreation district” includes: Pottsgrove Manor, the Carousel at Pottstown, theColebrookdale Railroad, Manatawny Green miniature golf, Memorial Park with the splash park and Trilogy Park BMX track, Montgomery County Community College’s art gallery, the Schuylkill River Trail,Riverfront Park and the Schuylkill Heritage Area’s River of Revolutions interpretive center.

“There are some in place, some underway and some nearly ready,” Bamford told The Mercury Friday, referring to the state of the various sites.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20141014/tourism-district-proposed-for-pottstown

West Chester Chili Cookoff Shares More Than 70 Recipes With Patrons

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

West Chester, PA On a chilly fall day, residents warmed up in the borough with hot peppers for the 12th year in a row during the Rotary Club’s Chili Cookoff.

More than 70 chili recipes were shared with thousands of patrons on Gay Street Sunday in an effort to raise more than last year’s $50,000 to support 14 local nonprofits.

Among the dozens of recipes shared at the festival were some crowd favorites, like those of the Habanero Brothers.

The brothers, who have been coming to the event for the past 10 years, compete in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, for chances to show off their varying recipes.

Garlic Fans Push Easton Garlic Fest To Record Attendance

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette ...

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Easton Garlic Fest chairwoman Jo Moranville learned one thing about garlic lovers this weekend.

“We’ve clearly reached the point where garlic-crazy people don’t care if they get wet,” Moranville says.

Despite a rainy start to the 14th annual festival on Saturday, Easton Garlic Fest saw its biggest crowd – ever – for the two-day festival.

More than 20,000 visitors flocked to Centre Square to “eat, drink and stink,” according to festival and police reports.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/food/index.ssf/2014/10/easton_garlic_fest_breaks_atte.html

Columbus Provides Blueprint For How To Develop Mellon Arena Site

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We love it when folks use existing successful business models for a blueprint. Why reinvent the wheel when a tweak will due :)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — About $1 billion in development around an arena primarily for hockey transformed a dreary section of downtown Columbus that used to be an industrial area and home to a run-down prison.

“People didn’t come downtown very often, and they certainly didn’t live here. Things are different now. This is a place to be,” said Sherri Lyle, 44, of suburban Powell, who works in Columbus’ 14-year-old Arena District.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are paying attention. The team is preparing to develop a 28-acre site where the Civic Arena stood, across Centre Avenue from the $321 million Consol Energy Center that opened in 2010.

“We’ve sat down and talked with them several times about what they have done relative to development,” said Penguins Chief Operating Officer Travis Williams, noting the team studied similar projects in Cincinnati, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Jose, Washington and Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6881016-74/arena-district-area#ixzz3FOBkt9TK
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Grocery Prices Keeping Climbing; Up 7 Percent In Last Year

Mary Bouras never expected to get sticker shock from a pound of butter.

But when the grocery staple reached more than $5 a pound at most stores, the 66-year-old Dover resident said it was hard not to.

Last week, she paid $5.79 for butter at Weis, and three other grocery chains in the area had similar prices.

“I know it’s just life and prices go up, but $6 for butter is a lot for me,” Bouras said.

Six months ago, she would have paid $1 less for the same item at the same store. A year ago, it would have been $1.20 cheaper, and five years ago it would have been $1.80 less.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26672787/grocery-prices-keeping-climbing-up-7-percent-last

Bethlehem Looking To Spice Up South Side With New Mexican Restaurant And Microbrewery

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A vacant parking lot on South Side Bethlehem could see new life under a $6.7 million plan for a Mexican restaurant and brewpub under one roof.

Ashley Development Corp., based in the city, proposes transforming the 0.38-acre plot at 404 E. Third St. from a former Bethlehem Steel Corp. parking lot into a multi-restaurant space owned by Bethlehem 21st Century, according to Alicia Miller Karner, director of community and economic development for Bethlehem.

Ashley Development Corp. President Lou Pektor says the project would complement and be within walking distance of the entertainment venues that have been developing in that area of the city.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/food/index.ssf/2014/10/bethlehem_looking_to_spice_up.html

Pittsburgh Region’s Political Leaders Again Consider Hotel Next To Convention Center

DSC01828It’s becoming the Lazarus of Downtown projects.

Left for dead a year ago, and several times before that, a plan to build a 500-room hotel attached to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is being resurrected by top political leaders.

Mayor Bill Peduto said Thursday that he and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have asked the Sports & Exhibition Authority to gauge the interest in and to study the feasibility of the proposed hotel, which would be built in a parking lot next to the convention center.

The full-service hotel, Mr. Peduto said, always was meant to be “the final part” of the convention center and to serve as its front entrance. “The building’s never been completed,” he said. “The hotel was supposed to be done.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/03/Political-leaders-revive-plan-for-hotel-attached-to-convention-center/stories/201410030099

York Schools Get Creative With Cafeteria Food

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  How refreshing to see that there are efforts being made to introduce children to foods other than chicken nuggets and pizza. Great step toward changing a culture that has spawned a childhood obesity epidemic.

Second-grader Tyler Keely thought the pomegranate seeds he popped into his mouth tasted like another fruit altogether.

“It tastes like apple juice but in a gummy,” he said.

Tyler and his classmates at Mount Wolf Elementary School paused their normal classroom lessons this week for a visit from cafeteria manager Wendy Garman, bearing sample-size cups of pomegranate seeds, which she described as looking like “ruby red kernels of corn.”

Before trying the arils, or seeds, the students saw pictures of where the fruit grows in Arizona and California, and passed around a whole fruit and one that was already sliced to see the inside.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26655979/york-schools-get-creative-cafeteria-veggies

Business Owner Stays True To Roots Of Skippack Days

Location of Skippack Township in Montgomery County

Location of Skippack Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SKIPPACK TOWNSHIP, PA – When it comes to Skippack Days, Butch Kaelin is a purist.

Visitors strolling through Skippack Village during the two-day festival — set for Oct. 4 and 5, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — a time the town welcomes vendors from all over the country, will find only true craftsmen setting up shop outdoors on the Victorian Carriage Shops property, 4039 Skippack Pike, which is owned by Kaelin.

If you’re looking for all things artisanal, authentic and guaranteed to be fully twenty-four carat, genuinely, unequivocally handmade, this is where you’ll find them.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/business/20141003/business-owner-stays-true-to-roots-of-skippack-days

Free Diabetes Program Comes To Pottstown Library Starting Today

Pottstown, PA – free informational diabetes program will be offered in Pottstown starting today.

The program is for adults diagnosed with diabetes and their families. Participants will attend two-hour classes that include discussions about diabetes, exercise and cooking demonstrations.

The free program called “Dining with Diabetes” will be offered every Friday in October starting with an informational and registration session today. The classes will be taught at the Pottstown Regional Public Library from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The library is located at 500 E. High St.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/lifestyle/20141002/free-diabetes-program-comes-to-pottstown-library-starting-today