Forbes Magazine Ranks Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 8th Best Place To Raise A Family

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Diamond City Partnership Executive Director Larry Newman said Friday he wishes he could be more enthusiastic about the Forbes Magazine ranking that put the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton metropolitan area as the eighth best place in the U.S. to raise a family.

“It’s difficult to get enthusiastic about these types of rankings because they come out a lot,” Newman said. “And they’re becoming increasingly more frequent. But don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we’re being recognized in a positive way.”

The Forbes list had this to say about the region:

“One of the lowest median family incomes ($42,000) among U.S. metro areas, but crime is low, commutes are short and housing is affordable (87 percent of area homes are affordable at the median income level).

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1337182/Region-gets-high-praise-from-Forbes

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Court Documents: Sherman Hills Sale Price Tops $16M

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

The current owners of the troubled Sherman Hills Apartments in Wilkes-Barre will receive more than $16 million should a proposed sale be finalized this month, according to court documents filed Tuesday in Luzerne County Court.

Family members of a murder victim are trying to block the sale or have the sale proceeds placed in escrow, claiming the sale of the low-income housing project would make the complex “judgement proof.”

On Tuesday, lawyers for Sherman Hills filed their response, saying the sale should be allowed to proceed.  The sales agreement was attached to the response and revealed Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Park Management, the complex’s owner, will be paid $16.2 million from the sale.

Survivors of murder victim Shantique Goodson, 27, fatally shot at the complex on Nov. 11, 2013, are seeking an injunction to block the sale, or place the sale proceeds in escrow, until the lawsuit plays out. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday morning in Luzerne County Court.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/court-documents-sherman-hills-sale-price-tops-16m-1.1664522

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‘Affordability Gap’ In Lancaster County Widens For Renters

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

The typical renter in Lancaster County is finding it harder to afford a basic apartment here, a new study shows.

The so-called “affordability gap” in Lancaster County has hit a record high, according to the latest report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The gap is the difference between the average renter’s hourly wage and what he needs to earn to comfortably afford the basic apartment.

According to the coalition, the average renter here earns $11.78 an hour.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/affordability-gap-in-lancaster-county-widens-for-renters/article_01bfb1ee-b39c-11e3-aa3f-001a4bcf6878.html

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Clarke Unveils Plan For Affordable Housing In Gentrifying Philly Neighborhoods

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

Council President Darrell Clarke today unveiled a plan to build 1,500 affordable housing units in gentrifying neighborhoods like Francisville, Point Breeze and Mantua by redeveloping city-owned vacant land or tax-delinquent properties.

One thousand of the units will be rentals and would take advantage of two underused financing tools, Clarke said: operational subsidies for affordable housing from the Philadelphia Housing Authority and a tax credit from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

The city would also need to issue a $100 million bond to be paid for by the Housing Trust Fund, which currently supports other programs.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/Clarke-unveils-plan-for-affordable-housing-in-gentrifying-neighborhoods.html#o1ssZ08Syqt3eBBK.99

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Senior Housing Plan Presented In Norristown For Vacant Montgomery Hospital Building

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN, PA — The consensus of public opinion Tuesday night about a proposal to build 100 independent-living apartments for seniors and a senior support building at the former Montgomery Hospital site on Powell Street was largely positive.

More than 25 Norristown residents heard the first public presentation of the plans by the Elon Group of Fort Washington at the Montgomery County Human Services Center from Francis Vargas, vice president of the Elon Group, and several executives from Einstein Healthcare Network (EHN), which owns the 365,000-square-foot, seven-story building and 3.7-acre parcel.

“The proposal is not much different from last year as far as the senior housing,” said Norristown Councilwoman Linda Christian. “Last year the proposal was for the overall, same amount of units that was denied by the funders.”

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140213/senior-housing-plan-presented-in-norristown-for-vacant-montgomery-hospital-building

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Dozens Turn Out To Hear About Possible York Artist-Housing Project

Map of York County, Pennsylvania, United State...

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

On Wednesday, Hardway was among the dozens who turned out to hear more about a possible artist-housing project in the city. A henna artist and trained vocalist, Hardway said she is intrigued by the idea of living among other creative people.

But, if the Artspace York project becomes a reality, Hardway wants to be sure its developers include accessibility in their plans — even if she’s not the one who benefits from it.

Hardway said she made that clear when she took a survey, which launched online Wednesday, to gauge the potential viability of a project in York.

Artspace is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that formed in 1979 with the goal of providing long-term affordable housing for creative people.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24972229/dozens-turn-out-hear-about-possible-york-artist?utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite

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3 Pittsburgh Construction Projects Hang In The Balance in 2014

Mellon Arena in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Mellon Arena in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year could be a pivotal one in the development of the former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District, the LTV Coke Works in Hazelwood and the Strip District produce terminal.

Both the arena redevelopment and the Buncher Co.’s plans for the produce terminal not only have the potential to generate drama but could pose the first development-related challenges for Mayor-elect Bill Peduto, who takes office Monday.

Nearly two years after the Civic Arena came down, 2014 could bring the first wave of new development to the site, which is considered among the most valuable pieces of real estate in the region.

But there’s a potential fight brewing.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/01/03/3-city-construction-projects-hang-in-the-balance-in-2014/stories/201401030104#ixzz2pMlbpeNL

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Philadelphia Could Make History With Land Bank Plan

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighti...

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighting planning districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe City Councilman Bobby Henon said it best on Thursday: “Right now, we have opportunity to make historic changes.”

Henon, chairman of Council’s Public Property Committee, was talking about the bill to create a land bank.

It’s a system Atlanta, Cleveland, St. Louis, and other cities have adopted and that supporters say could help cure the blight haunting many Philadelphia neighborhoods.

But with history at stake, the proposal seems stuck

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20131125_Philadelphia_could_make_history_with_land_bank_plan.html#u0ZlRfmlg53GFGwF.99

Housing Crisis: Rising Prices, Fewer Options, Long Waiting Lists Make Finding A Livable Space Difficult

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Jessica Castro in September moved herself, her daughter and her son, ages 10 and 9, into a one-bedroom apartment, sacrificing elbowroom to save on rent.

“What I need is a three-bedroom,” said Castro, 36, but it wasn’t in her budget. Even two-bedroom units were beyond her means as she worked 40 hours a week plus a second part-time job.

She now frets over how long her kids will tolerate the tight squeeze.

Thousands of renters across Lancaster County can identify with Castro. They’re priced out of decent, right-sized housing and settle for cramped, substandard quarters.

Experts warn that the shortage of affordable units is at the point that working people will leave the county to find a place to live.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/917486_Housing-crisis–Rising-prices–fewer-options–long-waiting-lists-make-finding-a-livable-space-difficult.html#ixzz2l1Rw7Kn6

Pittsburgh Suburbs Suffering Poverty At High Rate

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Poverty is growing at a faster rate in the suburbs than in the cities, and the Pittsburgh area is ahead of the curve — but not in a good way.

Nationally, about 55 percent of the population living in poverty is outside of cities, but in Allegheny County, 61 percent of people living in poverty are in the suburbs, and the number rises to 79 percent when the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area is measured. That area includes Allegheny and its six surrounding counties.

Those numbers come from Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and co-author of “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America.”

Ms. Kneebone said suburban poverty has been growing since 2000 and became more significant than urban poverty even before the economic meltdown of 2008 and 2009. The recession exacerbated it.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/11/18/Suburbs-suffering-at-high-rate/stories/201311180136#ixzz2l1MynVBs

A Hard Look At The Future Of Chinatowns

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

People who stroll through Chinatown on Saturday nights bathe in the lights of intriguing new restaurants, hip tea shops, and stylish lounges.

But moving beneath that shiny exterior, as strong and powerful as an underground river, is a torrent of forces that threaten the neighborhood’s very existence.

An influx of luxury housing, rising rents and land values, a soaring white population, and slipping Asian population could mean the end of Chinatown’s 140-year role as a gateway for immigrants and a regional hub for culture and family.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by a civil rights and education group that examined two decades of property and demographic records in the three big eastern Chinatowns – New York’s, Boston’s, and Philadelphia’s.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131111_A_hard_look_at_the_future_of_Chinatowns.html#ra7F8e0Rev0gffuc.99

Proposed Norristown Apartment Building Denied Low-Income Housing Tax Credits

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  YAHOO!

NORRISTOWN ­­— The developer of a proposed $17 million, 96-unit apartment building slated for a Montgomery County parking lot in Norristown has been denied $1,020,581 in low-income housing tax credits requested from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA).

The proposal from Pennrose Properties of Philadelphia was not included on a July 11 list of Cycle 2 awards from the PHFA, according to Jerry Nugent, the executive director of the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority.

“I have no idea what effect this will have on the project,” Nugent said.  “My understanding is there was an appeal filed by Doug Seiler and other people for the (Norristown) variances granted.  I don’t know how long that will run.  The legal appeal could run for a year or more.”

The development company secured the zoning variances on March 26 for the proposed, four-story building and has not yet submitted site plans to the Norristown planning department.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130721/NEWS01/130729944/proposed-norristown-apartment-building-denied-low-income-housing-tax-credits#full_story

Sex Offender Ex-Priest Working At Wilkes-Barre Nonprofit

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

A former priest and registered sex offender hopes his past won’t hurt his employer’s bid to improve neighborhood blight in Wilkes-Barre.

Robert Timchak, 47, works as the office manager for In The Gap, a fledgling grass roots organization that wants to build affordable townhouses on vacant properties owned by the city.  Larissa Cleary, a local real estate agent and the group’s founder, will speak to City Council today to ask the city to sell her lots on Hickory and South River streets.

However, there will likely be public input at the meeting about Timchak’s past.  In 2009, state police received an anonymous tip alleging Timchak, who at the time was serving as an assistant pastor for the Dioceses of Scranton in Pike County, downloaded child pornography.  Police searched his computer and found photographs of naked, underage boys – many around 11 years old, authorities said – and evidence that he tried to delete them.  Timchak plead guilty to 17 counts of possessing child pornography in 2010 and was released from prison last June.

Timchak, who is from Wilkes-Barre and has worked at Bishop Hoban High School, returned home after prison.  Although he’s technically still a priest, he’s been on a leave of absence from the diocese and is banned from performing religious duties.  He’s become an active member of the First Baptist Church of Wilkes-Barre. There, he met Cleary, who hired him last month to help with the organization.

Read more:   http://citizensvoice.com/news/sex-offender-ex-priest-working-at-nonprofit-1.1520909

Phoenixville Residents Voice Opposition To Housing Plan

PHOENIXVILLE — The council meeting room at Borough Hall was filled to the brim while residents strained to listen from the building’s lobby as council heard public comments against a planned development at Friendship Field Tuesday night.

“I think you can pretty much sense the temperament of the community in this council room,” Council President Rich Kirkner told a lawyer representing the development group, Michael B. Murray Jr.

After almost a dozen people got up to voice their opposition to the project set for the corner of Franklin and Fillmore streets, council unanimously voted to strike the project from its agenda amid cheers and applause from those in the audience.

The proposed plan, by Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic, which focuses on providing affordable housing, called for four-story-tall apartment buildings called Parkview Heights.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130710/NEWS01/130719984/phoenixville-residents-voice-opposition-to-housing-plan#full_story

43 Apartments Planned For Pottstown Furniture Warehouse

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  While we 100 percent support any adaptive reuse projects in Pottstown, we are greatly concerned about the involvement of a low-income housing tax credit.  This project, if done correctly, could be a HUGE shot in the arm to this neighborhood and solidify the borough’s claim to be moving towards becoming an arts designation (which we 110 percent support). 

That being said, private sector investment is needed, not more glorified Section 8 housing.  In our humble opinion, this is the “easy way out”.  It might be harder to find private sector dollars but the payoff is greater.  Other communities are successfully finding investors who are converting old building into MARKET RATE apartments and condominiums.  I am all for affordable housing but any involvement of Section 8/low-income funding taints the project.

Pottstown needs to have a better opinion of itself and not settle for the first offer that falls from the sky.  Section 8 and low-income housing do not raise property values nor do they change people’s minds about Pottstown.  Somebody needs to be courageous and just say no.  Find another way.

POTTSTOWN — The moribund plan to transform the former Fecera’s furniture warehouse on Beech Street into artist loft apartments returned to borough council Wednesday night with new backers and a new twist.

Genesis Housing Inc., the non-profit agency which engineered the development of the former Jefferson School into senior rental housing and has rehabilitated dozens or blighted properties in the first ward into owner-occupied homes, is partnering with a Syracuse non-profit housing agency on a $12 million plan to develop the property into 43 apartments targeted toward artists.

The difference is in addition to securing an historic architecture tax credit for the project, the developers,   HousingVisions, are also seeking a low-income housing tax credit, the same kind sought in 2010 for the controversial Pearl senior housing proposal along Industrial Highway — and that raised a few eyebrows on borough council.

“I’m still not sold,” Borough Council President Stephen Toroney said. “This is the same tax credit that was sought by the Pearl Group and that was for a 55-and-older community and people still came out and protested.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130607/NEWS01/130609465/43-apartments-planned-for-pottstown-furniture-warehouse#full_story

Town By Town: Why A Lot Of People Want To Live In Lansdale

Location of Lansdale in Montgomery County

Location of Lansdale in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note: This is the desired effect of revitalization in case anybody in Pottstown Borough government cares!

One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in this region’s communities.

If you’ve been house-hunting and Lansdale is on your list of possibilities, consider setting aside Saturday to give this Montgomery County borough the once-over.

Don’t expect to be alone, though, because June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is Lansdale Day, which typically attracts up to 5,000 people downtown, from Green Street to Cannon Avenue, to a fund-raiser for the Rotary of North Penn.

Even without the lure of a day of fun along West Main Street, a lot of people – especially younger ones and first-time buyers in search of affordable housing – have been heading to Lansdale lately.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/town-by-town/20130526_Town_By_Town___Lansdale_is_a_small_town_in_itself_.html#tC7Fk3Og5huI6fhJ.99

Changing Skyline: Cool Affordable Housing For Young Teachers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

It’s easy to imagine the sprawling 19th-century brick mill on South Kensington’s Howard Street as just another high-end apartment complex for twentysomething professionals, the newest outpost on Philadelphia’s ever-advancing frontier of gentrification.

Situated a few blocks north of Fishtown‘s hipster bars and BYOB food shrines, Oxford Mills preserves the kind of authentic architectural details that make young, and not-so-young, renters swoon: high ceilings, huge windows, thick wooden beams.  The amenities hail straight from the wired generation’s handbook.  Plans call for an office incubator that rents desk space by the day and a public cafe that spills onto a sliver park furnished with outdoor tables and a fire pit.  You know, for those cool, late summer nights when you want to linger with friends.

But Oxford Mills, which will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday, ventures down an uncharted path.  It is being built by a private company, D3 Real Estate, which intends to market the units as affordable housing to teachers, especially novices working in programs like Teach for America, and others who fall into the growing category known as “the working poor.”

Newly minted professionals with college degrees are not generally seen as the target demographic for low-income housing, a term that still brings to mind no-frills residential complexes built for the chronically poor, elderly, or disabled.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130415_Changing_Skyline__South_Kensington_housing_development_for_low-wage_workers_is_a_socially_driven_project.html

Huskey: Subsidized Housing Not The Answer

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This is an opinion piece by the editor of the Norristown Times Herald about the new subsidized housing project to be built in the central business district. It was passed by the Norristown Municipal Council but was opposed by MANY residents!

I’ll never forget my first apartment.

It was actually a house I shared with three of my best friends.

And when I say house, I mean it was a massive structure that apparently was built before the idea of insulation ever crossed anyone’s mind.  I swear I actually saw it snowing inside the house one winter.

The landlord also wasn’t one for fixing things.

Read more:   http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130401/OPINION03/130409997/huskey-subsidized-housing-not-the-answer#full_story

Affordable-Housing Development Moves Forward In Norristown

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  What a crock!  Thumbs down!

A mixed-use affordable-housing development is moving forward in Norristown despite opposition from some residents.

The plan calls for 96 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as 5,000 square feet of retail space, at DeKalb and Airy Street.  Sixty units would be reserved for low- and moderate-income residents.

The site is now a parking lot owned by Montgomery County.  The county deemed it underused, and in February agreed to transfer ownership through a profit-sharing redevelopment deal.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/suburban_pa/20130327_Affordable-housing_development_moves_forward_in_Norristown.html

York’s State-Of-The-Art Housing Complex To Open In April

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

York, PA - The sawdust floated down like late-winter snow, but officials said by summer the city will have more than two dozen state-of-the-art housing units and a bright new view along South George Street.

George Street Commons, a collaborative effort between the City of York, the Y Community Development Corporation and Ohio-based developer PIRHL is nearing completion, according to Kevin Schreiber, the city’s community and economic development director.

Residents could begin to move in to part of the $10 million, 28-unit site along East College Avenue as early as April, he said.  It should be completed by August.

“This is a really strong, good city project, a good, mixed-use development,” he said, walking the muddy construction site on Friday.  “There’s a lot here we’re excited about.”

Read more:  http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_22615510/yorks-state-art-housing-complex-open-april