Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You could probably fit every unit of affordable housing being built in Philadelphia today inside one of the fancy glass skyscrapers going up in University City, and still have a couple of floors left over. That’s not because the new towers are so immense, but because the city produces so little subsidized housing for the poor and working class.
It wasn’t always that way. From the 1950s through the Clinton years, the federal government financed thousands of units of affordable housing. Though the results weren’t always well-designed, the programs did at least ensure the poor had places to live. But in the last decade, federal money dried up and cities were left to their own devices. It’s no accident that wage stagnation has become a hot issue as low-cost housing has become harder to find.
So, as with many urban improvements these days, cities have begun to look to the private sector to pick up the slack. The strategy is called “inclusionary housing,” and it involves trading zoning bonuses for apartments.
Developers get to put up taller, denser towers. Cities get a bunch of units in the new buildings that can be rented at below-market rates. Low-wage workers get fabulous apartments with skyline views.
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.
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.
Mellon Arena in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board has taken another step in preparing the former Civic Arena site for redevelopment.
Board members authorized a $555,685 contract with Michael Baker Jr. today to do final design work for four roads — Centre Avenue, Washington Place, Bedford Avenue, and Crawford Street — that border the 28-acre site in the lower Hill District.
Plans call for those existing roads to be repaved, with upgraded signals, intersections and sidewalks at an estimated cost of $12 million.
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) At 78 million strong, baby boomers usually get what they want as consumer.
That’s how we got the Ford Mustang, lite beer, granite countertops and video on demand. The younger half of the boomers famously said, “I want my MTV” and they got it.
So when boomers start saying they’re tired of “going big” on everything from cheeseburgers to McMansions,businesses better begin paying close attention, and that’s exactly what the generation born between 1946 to 1964 is saying now. It’s a downsizing world they want, and they’re going to get it, but not without the amenities and comforts the materialistic boomers are famous for.
“Those baby boomers who worked hard for and embraced the affluent lifestyle of the 1970s through the middle of the last decade owning large homes and spacious vehicles have reached a turning point,” says Sheryl Connelly, global consumer trends and a “futurist” for Ford. “This generation is now trending toward a simpler way of living, one that doesn’t eliminate the lavish comforts they’ve come to enjoy.
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.
A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Whether it’s Oxford or Ralph Falbo, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has a message for developers — give me housing and lots of it.
And that applies to the North Shore, too, where you will find lots of offices and bars and even a hotel, but not a single place to call home.
In meetings with developers, Mr. Peduto is making it clear that there is a new administration with a new agenda in town — one that places a premium on housing and neighborhood business districts.
“Retail follows rooftop. That’s what [the late mayor] Bob O’Connor used to say. We don’t need to TIF retail centers. We don’t need to put public dollars behind big box. They’ll come. What we need to do is to build up the population that will shop there and then the retail would never need public subsidy,” he said.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
POTTSTOWN, PA — Your opportunity to help shape the future begins at 7 p.m. Monday at the Steel River Playhouse.
That is when and where a contingent from the Montgomery County Planning Commission will be on hand to get input from you, the public, as preparations are made to write a new comprehensive plan.
Assembled every dozen or so years, the county comprehensive plan guides development and policy decisions on elements of day-to-day life that range from transportation to recreation; from the economic development to the preservation of natural resources; from housing to health.
The open meeting at the playhouse is the first of four to be held throughout the county “to find out what people want,” said Brian O’Leary, section chief of county planning for Montgomery County.
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.
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.
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.
Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
LOWER POTTSGROVE — Two large developments being proposed in the township and totally more than 500 units may be part of a regional uptick in the housing market.
One proposal, still in its early stages, would site as many as 300 housing units, a hotel, bank and day care center on 42 acres between South park and Evergreen roads at the Sanatoga interchange with Route 422.
The second is a redux of a 2005 proposal to develop 140 acres on the west side of North Pleasant View Road that would add 265 more units to the mix.
“I can tell you absolutely I am seeing more (housing) going on,” said Trappe attorney Robert Brant, who is representing MasterHouse, the developer that plans to present the Sanatoga interchange proposal at a May 6 meeting of the board of commissioners.
Mrs. Smith site taken 2009, just model home completed
POTTSTOWN – There’s a building boom under way at the borough’s southern gateway.
A townhome community being built by Media-based Cornell Homes is changing the landscape at South and Hanover streets – land that once was home to some Mrs. Smith’s Pies buildings.
Hanover Square is a community of 118 three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath townhomes, complete with two-car garages – some with views of the Schuylkill River. So far 18 homes are completed and occupied and another 30 are under construction, according to Cornell Homes President and CEO Greg Lingo.
“It’s really a revival of the entrance to Pottstown,” Lingo said. “But what’s so exciting about this community is its unbelievable price – the houses are selling in the $120s. And it’s accessible off Route 422. This is the lowest-priced new home community in all of Montgomery County.”
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Reading Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday unveiled a thick sheaf of brightly colored graphics and numerous data tables that all point to one map in the middle – a map the authority and the city say will guide future city economic development efforts.
That map shows where the high-value housing markets are in the Reading area and the location of steady markets, transitional neighborhoods and distressed areas, all in specific detail.
It’s part of the market value analysis that The Reinvestment Fund, Philadelphia, completed for the authority and released at a Pennsylvania Economy League breakfast at the Berkshire Country Club, Bern Township.
“What the MVA (market value analysis) basically does is help you focus your meager resources and channel your efforts on nodes of strength,” said Adam Mukerji, authority executive director.
Most people see a parking space and promptly back up into it; Tim McCormick sees one and thinks, “I could live here.”
Who would willingly choose to live in something with the footprint of a parking space (8x10x16 feet)? Millions already do, argues McCormick, a communications consultant: bedrooms, dorm rooms, motel rooms, hostels, mobile homes and the like. “I myself live comfortably in a converted one-car garage of 200 square feet,” he says, “which allows me to live inexpensively near downtown in super-expensive Palo Alto.”
In cities where space is at a mind-boggling premium, McCormick’s idea of taking up residence in a parking space — in what he refers to as a “Houselet” — isn’t all that far-fetched. It may in fact be more appealing than the so-called “hacker hostels” that got a lot of buzz earlier this summer. Essentially apartments that house herds of would-be startup entrepreneurs willing to pay market rate to live in near-migrant-worker conditions, hacker hostels are proliferating in cities like San Francisco and New York where work culture calls for 24/7 commitments and lots of food-truck takeout (which no doubt inspired upLIFT’s prefab parking pods for the city).
These apartments are less living spaces than crash pads with a social networking component.
Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A residential development proposed for Washington Township has hit a snag because of recent changes to the water and sewer plans.
Developer Richard Mingey wants to build a 772-unit community on 225 acres just outside of Bally on the southeast side of the Route 100 and Kutztown Road intersection, extending to the west side of Schwenkfelder Road.
The problem arose at a planned residential development hearing before the township supervisors Tuesday. Attorney Amy Good objected that the plans before the board do not reflect the sewer and water service change: from municipal to on-site.