Greensburg Council Hears Pitch For Westmoreland County Land Bank

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

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

A Westmoreland County Land Bank brings a chance to remove dilapidated buildings and find another productive use for them, a county official told Greensburg City Council on Tuesday.

“It’s a proactive way to tackle slum and blight in the county,” said April Kobus, executive director of the county redevelopment authority.

Council expects to consider an agreement for the initiative, approved by the county commissioners in December, on Monday.

Greensburg, the county seat, would be an ideal entity to be among the first of 10 municipalities to join the program as part of a multi-phase endeavor, Kobus said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/5906334-74/council-county-bank#ixzz2yRzmj4Ms
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Pittsburgh City Council Members Air Doubts About Land Bank Legislation

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)

A letter that four Pittsburgh City Council members sent to 30,000 Pittsburgh residents called a land bank proposal “predatory” and promoted a meeting set for Tuesday evening to discuss potential alternatives.

The letter, dated March 18, is signed by council members R. Daniel Lavelle of the Hill District, Darlene Harris of Spring Garden, Theresa Kail-Smith of Westwood and Ricky Burgess of North Point Breeze. It went to residents of their council districts.

A proposal from Councilwoman Deb Gross of Highland Park would establish a city land bank as a way to transfer vacant city-owned or tax delinquent properties to homebuyers and developers.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5823332-74/council-bank-community#ixzz2wvfQp8P8
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Open For Risky Business: Philadelphia’s Vacant Properties

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County

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

With its broken plywood door and faded graffiti, the former hosiery mill on Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia’s Fishtown section is a contrast to the quarter-million-dollar townhouses and upscale lofts nearby.

1101 Frankford is not just a four-story eyesore, says Thomas Fasone, who owns an antique lighting shop next door. He rates it a magnet for trouble.

“It’s so easy to get into these buildings,” says Fasone, who has complained to the city. “They can go in to keep warm, start a fire, do drugs, fall asleep, and a fire breaks out.”

The place is supposed to be sealed. But on two recent visits, an Inquirer reporter found it open. The owners have problems, too. One of them, a Drexel Hill man, is accused of dealing marijuana

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/20140310_Open_for_risky_business__Phila__s_vacant_properties.html#5hYIOdF5lTCuGBHK.99

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Norristown Residents Ask Commissioners How To Revitalize The Area

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN, PA — Conversation at the commissioners “conversations” meeting at Norristown Municipal Hall largely focused on bringing Norristown back to its glory days.

Peggy Dellisant, a Norristown resident who used to own Main Changes Clothing, said the town needs foot traffic on Main Street to make a comeback.

“I just retired. I watched Main Street die a slow death,” she said.

Dellisant said that the abandoned prison on Airy Street is beautifully made, and turning it into something modern would help to bring the foot traffic into Norristown that the businesses need.

“The prison on Main and Airy is coming apart,” she said. “It really would be a shame to see that building just deteriorate. This town really needs a lot of help.”

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140227/norristown-residents-ask-commissioners-how-to-revitalize-the-area

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Citizens Action Committee For Pottstown To Give Presentation To Borough Council And Codes, February 20th

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

The Citizens Action Committee will be giving a presentation to Pottstown Borough Council and the codes and infrastructure departments about a wonderful program that has been implemented in sections of Utah and has proven success in reducing crime and blight in communities, holding landlords accountable, and spurring community revitalization and positive growth.  The program is called The Good Landlord Program, some basic details of it are linked below.  Please make every effort to attend this meeting and show your support of bettering YOUR town! Ears are opening at council and we need to make out presence and interest known!

The presentation will be delivered THIS THURSDAY, February 20th at the Codes/Infrastructure meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Borough Hall.  Take an interest and be part of the solution!

http://www.communityprogress.net/filebin/pdf/toolkit/UtahHousingCoalition_WhatIsTheGoodLandlordProgram.pdf

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Crafton Man Rehabs Worst-Looking House On Street

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

The parade of people who rented apartments in an old Crafton house aggravated Chuck Gigliotti, a longtime neighbor who lives across the street. After it became Section 8 housing in 2003, shingles fell off the roof regularly and loose bricks threatened to avalanche from a tall chimney. In 2006, Mr. Gigliotti watched from his home as two dozen police officers and a SWAT team broke down the door and arrested one man.

Finally, in March 2012, he bought the house at 24 Mildred St. for $18,900 and tackled his ninth property. His wife, Lindy, was not thrilled, but Mr. Gigliotti, 56, was ready for another challenge — rehabbing the worst-looking house on the street. He formed a company called Crafton Redux and hired three Triangle Tech graduates to restore the 1904 house that is a near mirror image of his own. Nearly two years later, they’re finished. The four-bedroom, 21/2-bath house is for sale for $220,000.

Mr. Gigliotti has a long history with old houses. At age 19, he joined the local carpenters union. Since 1988, he has been buying houses to remodel and resell. For six years, he was a glazier at Rex Glass in Robinson; for another six he was a self-employed remodeling contractor. Since 2010, he has taught carpentry at Triangle Tech.

Although he has done his share of working on roofs, he had no interest in going up on the high-pitched roof to remove the chimney. So, he cut a 16-inch hole in the wall of a third-floor bedroom and put a ladder through it. Gradually, he and his crew removed bricks, ending up with enough to build a 21/2-foot-wide walkway that parallels the property’s upper side.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/homes/2014/02/01/From-eyesore-to-model-home-Crafton-man-rehabs-worst-looking-house-on-street/stories/201402010031#ixzz2s5JQBTfp

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Brian O’Neill: Blight-Ridding Bill In Pittsburgh Shows Plenty Of Potential

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)

Drive down Hamilton Avenue or its side streets in Homewood and you’ll see a whole lot of not there anymore.

City Council is trying to hash out a plan to “land bank” the acres of vacant and boarded-up properties the city controls so they can be cleared for sale. That would take in about half of Homewood and almost half the Hill District.

When I asked Councilman Ricky Burgess, who represents Homewood, if he could give me a quick tour of the problem sites, he said, “You don’t need me. I’m dead serious. Drive down Hamilton Avenue and drive around at your leisure. It’s so bad … it’s breathtaking.”

He was right. It came as advertised.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/brian-oneill/2014/01/26/Brian-O-Neill-Blight-ridding-bill-in-Pittsburgh-shows-plenty-of-potential/stories/201401260059#ixzz2reCwstxI

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Nonprofit Group Aims To Spotlight Only Dairy In Pittsburgh, Bring Business To Carrick

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)

Colteryahn Dairy in Carrick is the only remaining dairy in Pittsburgh — a fact not known to many, an economic development official said.

“It’s easy to drive by without noticing,” said Kathleen Keating, a project manager at Economic Development South.

The nonprofit group is spearheading an effort to establish the Carrick Dairy District to spotlight the dairy on Brownsville Road and attract other businesses, such as ice cream and chocolate shops, that would complement the dairy.

At a community meeting on Tuesday, Economic Development South, which has been working with neighbors, business owners and city representatives on the plan for about a year, will show revised architectural renderings of the proposed dairy district and hear feedback about what people want to see in the district.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5395052-74/dairy-district-carrick#ixzz2qJGcRr6n
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BLIGHT & REDEVELOPMENT STUDY FOR THE BOROUGH OF POTTSTOWN, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA

Editor’s note: Here is some interesting reading for current Pottstown Borough residents, potential residents and business investors.  

http://www.genesishousing.org/_pdfs/pottstown_blight_study_2013_website.pdf

Cincinnati Streetcar Plan Pits Desire For Growth Against Fiscal Restraint

Downtown Cincinnati

Downtown Cincinnati (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CINCINNATI, OH — It has been a long time since a streetcar was just a streetcar here.

Instead, a $133 million project to build a 3.6-mile streetcar line through downtown has come to represent, depending on whom you talk to, a debt trap that will sink the city or an ambitious development effort that is central to Cincinnati’s revival.

And when the debate ended last week in an unexpected last-minute victory for the streetcar proponents, it was seen as both a vote of confidence in the city’s future and a reminder of how tenuous support for the project had become.

On the brink of being shut down, the project was saved by a successful petition drive and a written commitment, provided by the Haile U.S. Bank Foundation, from about 15 private backers to pay up to $9 million in operating costs, if needed, over the line’s first decade.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/23/us/cincinnati-streetcar-plan-pits-desire-for-growth-against-fiscal-restraint.html?_r=0

Philly Ups Aggressive Tactics In Fighting Blight With CLIP Bill

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

CODE OFFICERS looking to rid nuisance conditions in locked-up, vacant lots around town just might get a pair of shears to gain access, if a bill becomes law by the end of January.

Legislation passed in City Council on Thursday would allow workers in city’s Community Life Improvement Programs, or CLIP, to clip the locks on vacant and abandoned fenced-in lots whose owners are either lost, unknown or unresponsive.

The ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, gives greater power to CLIP, which works to improve the appearance of neighborhoods and eradicate blight.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131215_City_ups_aggressive_tactics_in_fighting_blight_with_CLIP_bill.html#VPr0fYt2tSrQLCqu.99

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

Ambler Boiler House, Arborcrest Office Park Among 2013 Montgomery Award Winners

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

The Ambler Boiler House and the Arborcrest office campus are getting some high praise for jobs well done.

The two construction projects were among five recipients of the 2013 Montgomery Awards, sponsored by the Montgomery County Planning Commission Nov. 13.

Accoring to a Montgomery County press release, the awards are given to outstanding projects and their creators for the best planning and design in the county. The award is an acknowledgment of the high quality of work and the commitment of communities, organizations and professionals.

According to a press release, the Boiler House was the recipient of the award for “the successful revitalization and adaptive reuse of an historic industrial structure in a state-of-the-art office building that incorporates sustainable design. This transit-oriented project, once a brownfield site, recognizes Ambler’s industrial heritage while advancing the borough’s revitalization efforts and providing environmental and economic benefits to the community.”

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20131121/ambler-boiler-house-arborcrest-office-park-among-2013-montgomery-award-winners

Mosaic Community Garden Wins Excellence In Planning And Design Montgomery Award

teacher-lauraThe Mosaic Community Garden, located in Pottstown Borough, received a 2013 Montgomery Award for creative vision, successful collaboration, strong community involvement, and positive neighborhood impact. This popular garden offers an attractive gathering place for residents to grow a variety of produce and learn about healthy living.

To read the entire article and view the pictures, click here to open the PDF file: 2013 Montgomery Awards

CRIZ Program Could Bring Biz To Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — The state has a new economic development tool with the city’s name on it.

In truth, the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program applies to seven other third-class cities and Delaware County, the applicant for the city of Chester. The program is included in a tax-reform package signed into law last July by Gov. Tom Corbett.

The program allows the eligible cities to use tax money generated in designated zones to pay down the debt taken on for job creation and economic-development projects.

Drew McLaughlin, Wilkes-Barre’s municipal affairs manager, said the city has been researching the CRIZ program for a while.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/953436/CRIZ-program-could-bring-biz-to-Wilkes-Barre

Philadelphia Council Committee Says Yes To A Land Bank

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

After years of talking the talk about getting a land bank in Philadelphia, where blight scars entire neighborhoods, City Council started Monday to walk the walk.

On a 6-1 vote, Council’s Committee on Public Property and Public Works approved a resolution to establish a land bank. The bill still needs a vote of the full Council.

If it approves, Philadelphia would become the largest city with a land bank. Land banks streamline the process for rescuing blighted property, whether by homeowners who want to turn a vacant lot next door into a garden or developers who hope to buy clusters of houses to make way for a major project.

One expert said Philadelphia was better equipped than some cities with land banks, such as Flint, Mich.; Cleveland; and St. Louis.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20131029_Phila__Council_committee_says_yes_to_a_land_bank.html#86b2DVYsKXDDfbXV.99

Hazelwood Residents Get Involved In Changes

Locator map with the Hazlwood neighborhood in ...

Locator map with the Hazlwood neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finding money isn’t the only challenge to rebuilding neglected neighborhoods. At the grass-roots level, it may be hard to get people to open their doors.

But a knot of community census takers in Hazelwood is encouraged.

“We haven’t had to convince many people,” said Shavonne Lowry, a 2009 graduate of Slippery Rock University and one of eight census takers. “I was surprised how many people wanted to talk.”

More than 200 people have answered the door so far for a census designed specifically to glean residents’ attitudes about the neighborhood, its needs and its assets. The census is part of a community strategy that emerged from a three-year Heinz Endowments commitment that goes beyond its investment in the former LTV site on the Monongahela River — the city’s last brownfield, a 178-acre, $12 million mixed-use redevelopment site renamed Almono. It is the property of several foundations that include the Heinz Endowments.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/hazelwood-residents-get-involved-in-changes-708468/#ixzz2iMt09Np0

Residents Of Homewood Search For Alternative To Demolishing Houses

Locator map with the Homewood North neighborho...

Locator map with the Homewood North neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Homewood‘s sense of place is eroding so fast that 184 homes have been razed since 2011 and another 232 are condemned. Residents are torn. They value the building stock that attests to better days, but blight is outpacing opportunities to save what’s viable.

Just in time for the neighborhood’s biggest investment in decades, Operation Better Block staff began a door-to-door campaign to motivate hundreds of residents to face this crisis by helping to plan housing strategies.

“Demolition was the only recourse people thought we had,” said Jerome Jackson, executive director of Operation Better Block. Even if it is, he added, people need information to be comfortable with that.

A neighborhood advocacy nonprofit since 1971, Operation Better Block initiated a resident-driven plan for the use of vacant land and buildings two years ago in a test area of 46 parcels near Pittsburgh Faison K-5. The school was a crucial reason to strengthen that area, which is also near the East Busway and the ripest area for investment.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/residents-of-homewood-search-for-alternative-to-demolishing-houses-706527/#ixzz2h3n9teMY

Reading Officials Form Plan To Find Foreclosed-Property Owners

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A two-alarm fire in September 2011 gutted a vacant row home at 1422 Muhlenberg St., damaged two neighboring properties, and started the city on yet another frustrating journey to find an owner and order that a building be properly boarded up.

The Muhlenberg Street problem was just one skirmish in the city’s ongoing battle to find elusive property owners for such things as fire cleanup, unpaid taxes, quality-of-life tickets or blight.

But the battle may soon be over.

The city has a plan to get banks to register their foreclosures and may hire an outside firm to help monitor and enforce the rules.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=515575

Residents Of One Scranton Neighborhood Praise City’s Blight Removals

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Kevin O’Boyle doesn’t own the empty lot alongside his home on Mineral Avenue in Scranton, but he is the one who takes care of it.

“I keep it clean because it’s next to my house,” Mr. O’Boyle said.

Other neighbors do the same thing, as de-facto caretakers of several vacant lots that used to have condemned homes on them in the tiny neighborhood called Sandy Banks encompassing Mineral Avenue and Barrett Court at West Olive Street near the Lackawanna River.

“It’s our neighborhood.  We want to keep it clean,” Mr. O’Boyle said of the community pride there.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/residents-of-one-scranton-neighborhood-praise-city-s-blight-removals-1.1538251