Housing Market Remains ‘Disaster’ In Westmoreland County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

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

Veteran housing contractor Greg Kinzler of Washington Township knows all too well the lingering effects the nation’s 2008 recession has had on the region’s homebuilding market.

“It’s still a disaster, what’s going on. How do you expect the housing market to be booming? There are numerous factors causing the housing market to drop,” said Kinzler, president of Sparkle Construction – SPP Inc.

Activity in Westmoreland’s residential construction market has fallen so sharply that only 430 building permits were issued in 2013 for new single-family and multi-unit residences, less than half the 1,028 building permits issued 10 years earlier, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

Prospective homebuyers are having a difficult time meeting banks’ credit requirements, Kinzler said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/6641819-74/market-building-homes#ixzz3CBkiMq9i
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Rupert Won’t Be Ready In Time For First Day Of School

Editor’s note:  Many thanks to Tom Hylton for another boondoggle.

POTTSTOWN — When the newly renovated elementary schools open for the first day of school Sept. 2, Rupert Elementary School will not be one of them.

In a letter sent home to parents Monday afternoon, Superintendent Jeff Sparagana said the Rupert school year will begin in the same place it was held last school year, the former Edgewood Elementary School at 920 Morris St.

“We will keep you apprised of the progress as the Rupert School renovation comes to conclusion and notify you in advance of the plan for the return to 1230 South St.,” Sparagana wrote to parents.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this communication causes as we look forward to a great school year with the anticipation of moving back to the newly renovated Rupert School,” Sparagana wrote.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140818/rupert-elementary-wont-be-ready-in-time-for-first-day-of-school-in-pottstown

I-495 Southbound Reopens In Delaware

Weeks ahead of schedule, Delaware officials Thursday afternoon reopened the southbound lanes of the I-495 bridge that spans the Christina River in Wilmington.

The bridge’s concrete piers had started to lean sideways after a construction company stored 50,000 tons of dirt at its feet, compressing the soft, underlying soil.

Contractors have been working night and day to fix the problem since early June, first removing the dirt, then drilling 150-foot shafts to accommodate new underground concrete supports, and finally erecting steel towers so the bridge could be jacked back into a level position.

The northbound lanes are expected to reopen within two to four weeks after additional repairs are made, said Geoff Sundstrom, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140801_I-495_southbound_reopens_in_Delaware_.html#RVyzrRJA6kuxf6r3.99

Montgomery County Commissioners Happy With Progress Of Norristown’s Lafayette Street Extension

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN, PA — The Montgomery County commissioners took a tour Thursday to see the progress of what county officials are calling “the largest local infrastructure project in Pennsylvania” and found they were pleased with it.

Leading the tour was Leo Bagely, a transportation planner at the Montgomery County Planning Commission, who has helped to oversee the first phase of the construction project.

“We’ve been at this for a long time,” said Bagely. “What this is going to look like, with the landscaping we’re doing, is we’re going to change the look of how people come out of Norristown.”

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140731/montgomery-county-commissioners-happy-with-progress-of-norristowns-lafayette-street-extension

Failed Norristown Condos Still A Burden To Buyers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

Terry Derby had to surf on seven different couches. Ellen Frank was turned down for credit cards and had trouble leasing a car. Ryan Schofield figures he might never again be able to buy a house.

Home ownership was not supposed to be like this. Instead of buying a haven, five Norristown condominium owners say they wound up with a horror.

The residents are left fighting for their credit ratings and some sort of compensation.

It’s a years-long saga – one yet to end – that spurred changes in the way the seat of Montgomery County monitors construction projects. But that offers little help to the people caught in a financial and legal tangle not of their own making.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140728_Failed_Norristown_condos_still_a_burden_to_buyers.html#sRoLYajfK86r2qPy.99

Lititz Pike Bridge Opening Next Week

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

The good news:  The long-awaited new Lititz Pike bridge will open Wednesday, weather permitting.

The bad news:  The one-lane travel restrictions will simply be switched from the old bridge to the new span.

The single-lane travel will allow for the reconstruction of Lititz Pike’s intersection with Keller and Marshall avenues, project construction manager Mike Sisson said.

The new bridge is not expected to open to its full capacity until late October, after the old bridge is removed, Sisson said.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lititz-pike-bridge-opening-next-week/article_bab5a084-0246-11e4-9c0f-0017a43b2370.html

Pennsylvania’s Stagnant 2013 Growth Has Political Repercussions

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’‍s economy stalled last year, according to a report from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Pennsylvania’‍s real gross domestic product, an indicator of general economic conditions, grew just 0.7 percent in 2013. Only three states and Washington, D.C., saw slower growth.

Pennsylvania was also out-performed by its neighbors, West Virginia and Ohio, which saw 5.1 and 1.8 percent growth respectively. West Virginia has now outgrown Pennsylvania for six straight years, and Ohio has for two. Even struggling New Jersey beat out the Keystone State, posting 1.1 percent growth.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/06/19/Pennsylvania-s-stagnant-2013-growth-has-political-repercussions/stories/201406190114#ixzz356R8ZzWX

Wilkes University Buys Bartikowsky Building

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Fresh off a $33 million science center construction project on its campus, Wilkes University announced plans Wednesday for a central location for its school of business.

But it will spend less than one-tenth what it did for its last building project.

The university announced it would spend $3 million to renovate the University Center on Main, at 169 S. Main St., transforming it into the new home of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership. The recreation center and Gambini’s Cafe will remain in the building. The school of business will use 35,000 square feet of the 82,000-square-foot building.

In addition, Wilkes University has purchased the former Bartikowsky Jewelers building at 141 S. Main St. for $1.2 million from the Bartikowsky family with the goal of renovating the 25,000-square-foot space to accommodate administrative offices and a student services center, which includes the registrar and financial aid offices, human resources and accounting offices.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1236395/Wilkes-University-buys-Bartikowsky-building

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Developers: West Manchester Mall Construction Could Begin By March

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

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

The new year will bring a new West Manchester Mall, and developers said work could begin before winter ends.

“We’re trying to get started as early as we can. March is not an unreasonable target,” said Tony Ruggeri, co-founder of Dallas-based M&R Investors, which owns the mall.

The 32-year-old shopping hub at 1800 Loucks Road is set for a $47 million redevelopment that will change it from an enclosed mall to an outdoor plaza similar to Hunt Valley Towne Center in Maryland.

The York County commissioners and the West York school board recently approved a tax incentive financing (TIF) plan that will allow the mall to be revamped while receiving a limited tax break on the improved property.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24764314/developers-west-manchester-mall-construction-could-begin-by

Construction Of Philly’s Mormon Temple Without Caffeine, Smoking, Swearing

It’s been two years since ground was broken in Center City on a massive Mormon temple and visitors’ center, and it might just be one of the more remarkable construction sites in recent city history.

Let’s just say the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) goes by its own rules — not those typically found in local union handbooks. And it makes sure those rules are enforced.

No smoking. No coffee. No swearing.

Praying optional — but encouraged.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Construction_of_Phillys_Mormon_Temple_without_caffeine_smoking_swearing.html#BeIx151RoqqI1YFX.99

With Financing Woes Resolved, Construction Begins At Allentown’s Schoen’s Building

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With its financing woes behind it, construction began today on the $9.8 million renovation of the former Schoen’s Furniture Store in Allentown.

The 612 W. Hamilton St. structure has now been dubbed the Trifecta Building after its primary tenant, Trifecta Technologies, the software firm that will occupy the top three of the building’s six floors.

During an open house and construction launch party today, Trifecta founder and CEO Doug Pelletier expressed excitement about being part of the City Center neighborhood’s ongoing revitalization.

“We’re coming downtown, and we’re not just coming here to work,” Pelletier said. “We’re going to drink in your bars, we’re going to eat in your restaurants, we’re going to cheer at the arena. That’s what we love about coming here.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2013/11/with_financing_woes_resolved_c.html

PennDOT To Start $22M Rebuild Of I-83 York Split

Five years ago, and after a string of crashes, officials pledged to do something about the Interstate 83 York split.

Each day, like clockwork, traffic builds along this vital link among Harrisburg, the West Shore, York and points south. It’s one of the most congested and dangerous stretches of highway in the midstate.

On Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will start rolling out the first phase of a two-year, $22 million project to rebuild the I-83 York split in Cumberland County.  Nighttime lane restrictions are expected to begin Aug. 12 and last for three weeks, as work crews prepare the site for construction.

PennDOT is hosting a meeting about the project on Aug. 28 at Cedar Cliff High School.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/i-83_york_split_penndot_conges.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Prince Harry Tours Storm-Damaged New Jersey Shore

English: A view of the boardwalk in Seaside He...

English: A view of the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey north of Casino Pier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. – Britain’s Prince Harry toured two New Jersey shore communities devastated six months ago by Superstorm Sandy, viewing some of the damage that remains but also walking on a rebuilt boardwalk and shaking hands with construction workers who have been racing to get the resort towns ready for the summer.

In Seaside Heights, where the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” was taped, he walked down the rebuilt boardwalk with Gov. Chris Christie and both took part in a game of chance, throwing perforated plastic balls into holes for stuffed animal prizes, which they handed over to children.

The two came within sight of a roller coaster that the storm sent plunging into the Atlantic Ocean and which became a defining image of the storm that struck in late October.  A crane was in place to begin demolition of the amusement ride.

In both Seaside Heights and Mantoloking 10 miles north, his first stop, the prince shook hands with police, fire and other emergency personnel.  Harry also greeted construction workers who have been working on rebuilding Seaside Heights’ famous boardwalk, now about two-thirds complete.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/nation_world/20130514_ap_princeharrytoursstormdamagednewjerseyshore.html

Multiple Bridge Construction Projects Impact Businesses, School Bus Routes

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

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

BIRDSBORO — Over the past year, residents of Birdsboro have been forced to use detours and circuitous routes to get around the borough due to two bridges under construction.

But that’s about to get easier.  Well, for some people.

For their neighbors in Union and Amity townships, it might get harder.

Construction on the Hay Creek Bridge and a new bridge over the Schuylkill River on Route 345 both started in August 2012.

Because of the construction, tractor trailers traveling on Route 724 had to start their detour for Route 345 as far east as Route 100 in North Coventry.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130429/NEWS01/130429354/multiple-bridge-construction-projects-impact-businesses-school-bus-routes#full_story

Route 422 Lane Closures Start Sunday

Westbound U.S. Route 422 at the exit for Stowe...

Westbound U.S. Route 422 at the exit for Stowe, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

KING OF PRUSSIA — PennDOT has announced nighttime lane closures on Route 422 beginning Sunday and lasting through Dec. 21.

Between the Sanatoga and Route 724 interchanges in Lower Pottsgrove and North Coventry, crews will be working Sunday through Friday from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., causing the right westbound lane to close, Dec. 2 through 21.

A lane will be closed on the eastbound side in the same stretch between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m., Monday through Friday nights, Dec. 3 through 21.

The right lane of the westbound side will be closed between the Stowe and Route 100 interchanges in North Coventry Dec. 2 through 21 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. with crews working Sunday through Friday.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121201/NEWS01/121139931/route-422-lane-closures-start-sunday-#full_story

Pottstown School District: Barth Project Costs Higher Due To Borough Consultant

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s Note:  This is priceless.  So the borough turns around and hires the same people to review Codes for $33,000.00.  Is somebody related to these people or what???  Is Evan Brandt the only person in Pottstown who researches anything? Wasn’t Barth already behind schedule when the borough hired the same outfit for the Codes study?  Does the right hand not know what the left hand is doing?

POTTSTOWN, PA — The Conshohocken engineering firm hired by the borough to suggest ways to make the codes department more efficient has caused delays and may cost borough taxpayers “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in cost overruns at the Barth Elementary School construction project, school officials said last week.

A call to Remington, Vernick and Beach Engineers seeking comment Monday was not returned before press time.

During the past several school board meetings, the district’s architect, construction managers and administration officials have made references to delays in getting the Barth Elementary School renovation project started.

Those delays, they said, have been due to requests and requirements made by Remington, Vernick & Beach.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121023/NEWS01/121029818/pottstown-schools-barth-project-costs-higher-due-to-borough-consultant-&pager=full_story

Lackawanna County DA Putting Stadium Scrap Metal Thieves ‘On Notice’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Editor’s note:  Book em, Danno!

Wide-eyed burglars planning to steal scrap metal from the stadium at PNC Field may want to reconsider now that Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola has vowed to throw the book at them.

“We want to put people on notice,” he said Tuesday.

Over the last several months, while crews have worked to partially demolish and now reconstruct the stadium, theft of metal hardware and scrap metal has been an ongoing problem.

The stadium has been vacant of its home team, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, while they play the current season entirely on the road to accommodate the renovations.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/lackawanna-county-da-putting-stadium-scrap-metal-thieves-on-notice-1.1359085

Pottstown School Board Rejects Second Look At School Project Plans

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN — With a 7-3 vote Thursday night, the school board rejected a proposal to suspend work on designing additions to three elementary schools to allow the potential to save as much as $6.5 million to be explored.

The proposal, made by school board member Thomas Hylton, sought to take advantage of a recent change in long-standing state policy that was made with the passage of the most recent budget in Harrisburg.

Throughout the many years of discussion on the elementary school project, it has been state policy that it will not provide reimbursement to any school construction project that does not eliminate the use of modular classrooms.

The need to meet this requirement is among those driving the decision to add between 12 to 14 classrooms in additions to Rupert, Lincoln and Franklin elementary schools, which is where the $24 million project now stands.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120803/NEWS01/120809803/pottstown-school-board-rejects-second-look-at-school-project-plans&pager=full_story

I-176 Work To Snarl Traffic

List of Interstate Highways in Pennsylvania

List of Interstate Highways in Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Motorists using Interstate 176 near the West Shore Bypass soon will encounter a construction site that’s bound to cause some huge backups over the next two years.

In August, crews are expected to start a $14.7 million project to rebuild the northern end of the interstate in Cumru Township. The work will focus on the half-mile stretch from Route 724 to Route 422.

“It’s mainly to reduce congestion in the area of that interchange and also to increase safety,” said PennDOT spokesman Ronald J. Young Jr.

PennDOT recently gave the contractor, Pittsburgh-based Trumbull Corp., the OK to begin the work.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=399038

One World Trade Center To Become NYC’s Tallest Building Monday

NEW YORK, NY—  C0me Monday, 1 World Trade Center is expected to become the Big Apple’s tallest skyscraper, when its steel casing surpasses that other famous city landmark, the Empire State Building.

It will reach more than 1,250 feet, just a little past the Observation Deck.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/kcpq-one-world-trade-center-to-become-nys-tallest-building-monday–20120430,0,1144920.story