$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

South Bethlehem Historic Board Approves 9-Story Building After Previously Panning It

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

After voicing strong opposition last month to a proposed 9-story building on West Fourth Street, the South Bethlehem Historic Conservation District voted 5-2 Monday to support the building’s design.

District board Chairwoman Beth Starbuck said she had been very troubled by the building’s height until she realized Hotel Bethlehem also was nine stories and doesn’t stick out badly on Main Street.

“I’m not happy with the scale of this, either, but I’m less freaked out about it — it just never occurred to me that the Hotel Bethlehem is that tall,” she said.

The board makes recommendations to Bethlehem City Council, and board Historic Officer Christine Ussler said there’s a fear if the board is often overruled by council “this developer and other developers will get the sense we don’t count.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/10/south_bethlehem_historic_board.html

Shale Oil, Gas Finds Put Mon Valley On Path To Renaissance, Leaders Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

Lue Ann Pawlick never envisioned companies connected with oil and gas beating a path to Alta Vista Business Park when it broke ground in tiny Fallowfield, Washington County, in 2001.

Today, three of the five companies in Alta Vista work in the industry. An energy company is set to start construction in the spring, and at least one more is close to signing a deal to locate there.

“We’re trying to keep it a mixed-use business park, but we have to recognize the oil and gas industry is the biggest game in town right now,” said Pawlick, executive director of the Middle Monongahela Industrial Development Association. “They are the ones driving demand.”

Ten years ago, Fort Worth-based Range Resources Corp. drilled the first Marcellus shale well in Washington County. Now the county — which dubs itself “Energy Capital of the East” — is home to about 1,000 wells, the most in Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/washington/6815491-74/county-mon-valley#ixzz3GhruaosZ
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Pittsburgh Study Shows City’s Vibrancy Has Returned

DSC01844Editor’s note:  We found this to be true during our visit there this summer. Pittsburgh has drastically changed over the last 10 years and the improvement is palpable.

Pittsburgh has transformed from an economically stagnant, transient city to “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” according to Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today.

A new report from the statistics-based project reflects this trend in increased home ownership, showing more residents are making the city their home.

The report shows the Pittsburgh region has the highest percentage of owner-occupied housing compared to 14 other metropolitan areas with comparable size and demographics, according to U.S. Census figures.

Factors like employment opportunities, education and housing have turned the city into “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” Mr. Heuck said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/18/Study-shows-Pittsburgh-s-vibrancy-has-returned/stories/201410180017

Corbett Announces $10M In Grants For Almono Project In Hazelwood

Locator map with the Hazlwood neighborhood in ...

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

Before local developers can build a projected $1 billion in apartments, offices, retail shops and tech suites on the former LTV Steel Corp. site in Hazelwood, they need about $103 million in streets, utility lines and other infrastructure upgrades.

“There’s huge interest in this site, tremendous interest in this site, from developers not only in the region, but across the country,” said Don Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp., which is managing the project. “Really, it’s all just interest until we can give them some certainty that the site will be ready for their buildings to open.”

Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday announced $10 million in state grants to support development at the 178-acre Almono property along the Monongahela River.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6964700-74/industrial-office-space#ixzz3GLYMNDky
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Biden In Philly To Promote Port

Official portrait of Vice President of the Uni...

Official portrait of Vice President of the United States . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vice President Biden toured a dredging barge on the Delaware River at Penn’s Landing Thursday to show support for the project to deepen the river’s shipping channel.

Biden, the latest high-profile politician to visit the region in recent days, was flanked by fellow Democrats U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, Rep. Robert Brady and Rep. Chaka Fattah.

Before delivering remarks on the ongoing deepening of the Delaware, Biden and the delegation were led on a tour of the large barge by Brian Puckett, project manager for the Great Lakes Dredging and Dock Co.

The vessel’s main feature, an enormous dredging bucket that can haul as much as two dump trucks, immediately caught Biden’s eye.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20141017_Biden_in_Philly_to_promote_port.html#XRrFTtvHxbyblZSS.99

Allentown Could Be Blueprint For New Development

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

ALLENTOWN, PA – Three years ago, run-down tattoo parlors and pawnshops dominated Hamilton Street, the main drag in Pennsylvania’s third-largest city.

Now they’re gone, replaced by high-tech firms, high-end restaurants, and a burst of construction activity. In 22 months, seven buildings of at least 10 stories have gone up along Hamilton Street, and two older buildings were rehabbed. The centerpiece is the PPL Center, a new, gleaming, 10,000-seat arena that this week opens as the new hockey home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers’ minor league affiliate.

Bolstered by special legislation that diverts most of the state taxes on new development within a 130-acre urban zone, supporters say what’s happened in Allentown could be a blueprint for other long-suffering small cities eager to shed their industrial past.

“I think we’re trying to change the Allentown identity,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said over lunch Thursday at the Hamilton, one of five new downtown restaurants. “It was so jerry-rigged over the years there wasn’t much of an identity left.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20141012_Allentown_could_be_blueprint_for_new_development.html#elAVd62cIEa7dzdL.99

Four-Building SouthSide Works Project Unveiled

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)

Since arriving in Pittsburgh three years ago, Raleigh, N.C.-based Highwoods Properties has acquired iconic PPG Place and EQT Plaza, Downtown. Now it’s moving across the river — to build, not to buy.

The real estate investment trust has reached an agreement with the Soffer Organization to erect four office buildings at the 34-acre SouthSide Works complex on the last four parcels left for development.

Highwoods plans to start with a 158,000-square-foot glass office building on the Monongahela riverfront next to Hofbrauhaus restaurant. The six-story building would feature 30,000-square-foot floor plates, terraces, an 8,000-square-foot restaurant, locker rooms, bike storage, a 72-space parking garage, and direct access to the waterfront park, trails and marina. Other buildings would follow based on demand — about 400,000 square feet of office and retail space in all.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/10/10/4-building-SouthSide-Works-project-unveiled/stories/201410100105

Pittsburgh-Area Colleges Produce Nearly $9 Billion Economic Impact

The 10 colleges and universities that make up the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education produced an economic impact of $8.99 billion and supported more than 70,000 jobs in the Pittsburgh area during fiscal year 2012-13, according to a report the council prepared in collaboration with Fourth Economy, a national economic development consulting firm.

Their collective economic impact represents approximately 32 percent of the city’s gross domestic product, the report said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6936623-74/university-pittsburgh-council#ixzz3FfiHRLmm
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Alco Proposing Two Office Towers, Parking Garage On North Shore

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)

Three years ago, Alco Parking president Merrill Stabile was rebuffed when he offered the city’s Stadium Authority $10 million to buy land on North Shore Drive for a “signature office tower.”

Now Mr. Stabile is back — this time with plans for a new office development and parking garage on the land he owns behind PNC Park on the North Shore.

As conceived, the project would feature two, 11-story glass office towers erected on top of a new five-story, 1,227-space parking garage. In all, as much as 600,000 square feet of Class A office space would be built.

“We think it’s a game-changer,” said Kim Clackson, senior vice president of CBRE, which is marketing the “very dramatic” development that would rise above the ballpark and offer views of the Downtown skyline.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/10/09/Alco-proposing-2-office-towers-parking-garage-on-North-Shore/stories/201410090197

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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High Hopes For $38 Million Project In Pleasantville

Map of New Jersey highlighting Atlantic County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Atlantic County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. – This down-on-its-luck stepsister town to neighboring Atlantic City has struggled economically for decades, languishing without a redevelopment plan or the ability to attract private investment.

But a $38 million project that includes two apartment buildings and retail space on a vacant Main Street block is expected to set the cornerstone for economic growth and expanded development in the Atlantic County city, according to Jacqueline Amado-Belton, economic development director for the City of Pleasantville.

“We feel like we have borne the brunt of a lot of issues that have spilled over from Atlantic City over the years,” Amado-Belton said. “In terms of perception and other factors, it’s been a struggle and a challenge to get to this point.”

The Pleasantville City Center, expected to be completed by next summer, will add 135 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail space and will be bordered by Main Street, Washington Avenue, Milan Avenue, and South Second Street.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20141006_High_hopes_for__38_million_project_in_Pleasantville.html#ZlSiLKCqFZQAdj9H.99

York PA Metro Area At Bottom Of Forbes Job Growth List

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

The Florida economy was hammered during the financial crisis as tourism slowed, real estate prices plummeted and jobs disappeared, but the state has crawled back and continues to see heavy net migration into nearly every Sunshine State metro. People are chasing jobs with three Florida metros ranked among the 10 places expected to have the fastest job growth over the next three years and seven among the top 25. Naples leads the way with a projected average annual rate of 4.1%. Unemployment peaked in Naples in January 2010 at 12.2%, but was just 5.4% last month and is expected to stay low. Joining Naples among the top spots for job growth are fellow southern Florida locales Cape Coral and Port St. Lucie.

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2014/07/23/graphic-best-and-worst-cities-for-jobs-2014/

Turning Up The Lights On Gray Market St. East

English: Lit Brothers Department Store, 701-39...

English: Lit Brothers Department Store, 701-39 Market Street (block bounded by Market, 7th, Filbert, 8th Streets) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (33 buildings built between 1859 and 1918, unified by a brick & iron facade). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Times Square-ification of Market Street East in central Philadelphia is underway, and it is starting at one of the most treasured buildings on one of the most stubbornly seedy thoroughfares in Center City.

Construction scaffolding has begun its crawl up the cake-frosting-white facade of the former Lit Bros. department store, a century-old architectural wonder that will be home to the city’s first flashy, high-tech video billboard screens.

Over the next three months, crews will work to install stadiumlike, wraparound LED signs rising 14 feet above the roofline of both corners of the landmark structure on the 700 block of Market Street.

Officials hope to light up Lits for the first time on New Year’s Eve – the holiday synonymous with Times Square, the Manhattan billboard mecca whose mojo Market Street’s boosters and investors are hoping to mimic.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140928_Video_screens_to_add_some_pop_to_street.html#pR6W1yWRRd3Al006.99

MCCC & GCC: Global Connections For Regional Impact

Global Corporate College (2)Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.— Community colleges have a proven track record in building the economic growth of the regions they serve by offering employers customized workforce development and training. But some institutions—like Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), with campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, Pa.—are thinking even bigger.

Close to 50 colleges and universities across the United States are part of the Global Corporate College (GCC), an international network that provides corporations with quality and consistent workforce training curricula for employees regardless of location, language and learning needs. Currently, GCC has global partners in 24 countries, which, according to its website, makes it the largest, multi-modal human capital development network in the world. Through a partnership with Growth Development Associates (GDA), GCC institutions also have access to extensive sales management and training curricula.

“Each GCC partner college has access to the largest body of incumbent worker training curriculum,” explains Dr. Brook Hunt, director of MCCC’s Center for Workforce Development (CWD). “As a result, this curriculum enables the colleges to build custom solutions for our customers at our competitors’ ‘off the shelf’ prices.”

Since 2012, Montgomery County Community College’s Center for Workforce Development (CWD) has partnered with both GCC and GDA to provide custom training programs and industry forums for dozens of employers in the Greater Philadelphia business community. Clients include Cobham PLC, Lansdale; Blommer Chocolate, East Greenville; Pointroll, King of Prussia; HP Hood LLC, Hatfield and Philadelphia; SKF USA, Lansdale; Stein Seal, Kulpsville; and Curtiss-Wright, EST Group, Hatfield, among others.

Those employers cite positive experiences with GCC and GDA customized training.

“Through CWD and Global Corporate College, we customized a training program for over 50 employees…based on [their] needs and the company’s training goals,” said Joanne Reagan, senior human resources manager for HP Hood, LLC. “The training program was well received. We look forward to continuing our partnership with CWD and GCC.”

“Curtiss-Wright, EST Group, partnered with CWD and Growth Development Associates to energize our sales training efforts,” says Drew Bergman, director, sales and marketing. “The program that GDA developed was specifically tailored to our business, and has resulted in increased staff focus on closing techniques and supported a current initiative to gain “add-on” product accessory sales.  The results have been outstanding.  Our staff came away charged up and excited to put the techniques to use.”

For its efforts, MCCC was recognized with three distinguished awards during GCC’s annual Institute in Indianapolis over the summer. Dr. Brook Hunt was one of two recipients of the inaugural Spirit of Global Corporate College Award, given in recognition of an individual’s exemplary commitment, spirit and contribution toward fulfilling the mission of GCC.

MCCC was also earned nine “Pig” awards for securing or expanding GCC and GDA contracts and was the only 2014 “Poodle” award recipient, which is awarded to institutions that bring in five or more new contracts.

To learn more about Montgomery County Community College’s Center for Workforce Development, visit http://www.mc3.edu, click on Areas of Study, then Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, followed by Center for Workforce Development.

Officials Further Hopeful About International Rail Port In Bethlehem

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials were in Bethlehem last week to further discuss opening a local international rail port and local officials left the meeting feeling very hopeful.

“They’re very interested in the site, they’re very interested in the Lehigh Valley,” said Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez, who attended the Sept. 12 meeting with Port Authority officials at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Don Cunningham also said the Port Authority is very interested in opening an inland port in Bethlehem. He said the main unknown is whether the owner of the Bethlehem Intermodal rail yard can get funding to expand.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/09/officials_further_hopeful_abou.html

Town By Town: In Pottstown, Plenty Of Sellers, Few Buyers

Pottstown Borough Hall

Pottstown Borough Hall

Editor’s note:  It’s pretty freakin’ sad when the Philadelphia Inquirer has to write up something like this about Pottstown.  Everybody knows why this situation exists, except for the do nothing Borough Council who are off in Lala Land taking a group cruise down the river Denial! What an embarrassing write up and very damning because of the enormous readership of this MAJOR MARKET publication!!!!!  Now that a big city newspaper has pointed out the same issues we bloggers have been harping on for years, maybe you all will be shamed into doing something. 

Trends in local housing supply and demand aren’t working in Pottstown’s favor right now. In a word, the market is troubled.

Andrew Himes, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Collegeville, said the borough “is one of the few places that hasn’t made any kind of a comeback.”

Though just about every market in the eight-county Philadelphia region has a shortage of supply, Pottstown’s problem is it has 300 houses for sale and very little demand, Himes says.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/town-by-town/20140831_Town_By_Town_.html#0CJjWTr05jzmHLlJ.99

29 Luxury Apartments Planned For York City’s Northwest Triangle

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

A unique, triangular building in downtown York City has piqued the interest of two young developers.

Seth Predix and Jordan Ilyes have proposed converting the Keystone Colorworks building, a former paint factory at 109 W. Gay Ave., into 29 luxury apartments.

The city’s Redevelopment Authority, which owns the building, voted Wednesday to draft a sales agreement for $100,000.

It could be months before the sale is final, but Wednesday’s decision “basically takes the building off the market,” said David Cross, who chairs the RDA.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26378110/29-luxury-apartments-planned-york-citys-northwest-triangle

Seizing The Moment: Ajay Raju Thinks Philly’s On The Verge Of Greatness

English: no original description

English: no original description (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BORN IN INDIA – made in America, Ajay Raju likes to say.

He might not be a household name in Philadelphia, but drop it around any of the power brokers who make this city churn like a giant waterwheel and you’ve just made a friend.

He’s not in the Kennedy class yet, but Raju’s name is – and has been – getting a lot of traction.

He serves on more than a dozen nonprofit boards, gives his money away unabashedly to philanthropic causes and is constantly mulling the next big idea, such as a proposed online, citizen-based journalism project with former Daily News editor Larry Platt.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20140819_Seizing_the_moment__Ajay_Raju_thinks_Philly_s_on_the_verge_of_greatness.html#TrmQ1scDqCWpYTQc.99