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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Pittsburgh-Allegheny County SEA Moves Ahead On Redevelopment Of Civic Arena Site

Mellon Arena in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/07/10/Pittsburgh-Allegheny-County-SEA-moves-ahead-on-redevelopment-of-Civic-Arena-site/stories/201407100268#ixzz375Nwumqr

Baby Boomers Go Small In ’14

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.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/philly/story/baby-boomers-go-small-14/1

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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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Allentown Mayor Announces Plans To Improve Poorest Neighborhoods

English: City of Allentown

English: City of Allentown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced an initiative today to make health and safety improvements in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

The city has committed $2.5 million for such Center City improvements and has asked the business community to match or exceed that amount in donations.

Working with the Allentown School District, the city plans to focus on blight remediation, housing redevelopment, home ownership and streetscaping projects.

“I believe Allentown will become a beacon of hope and an economic model for redevelopment (that) can be replicated across the state and across the country,” Pawlowski said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/03/allentown_mayor_announces_plan.html

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Peduto Makes Pitch For New Housing In Pittsburgh

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)

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.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/02/06/Peduto-makes-pitch-for-new-housing/stories/201402060184#ixzz2saXXgnKv

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Pottstown Meeting Monday Will Help Chart Montco’s Future

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131115/pottstown-meeting-monday-will-help-chart-montcos-future

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

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

Expanding Suburbia: Route 39 In West Hanover Township Primed To Grow Over Next Several Years

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

It’s hard to miss the signs pointing to Route 39‘s future north of Hershey in West Hanover Township.

Some of them are quite large and aligned toward the road.

While the names are all different — High Associates, Brownstone, Landmark Commercial Reality, among them — the message is pretty standard: “Available.”

In West Hanover Township, Route 39, also known as Hershey Road, is open for business.

What used to be rural farmland and rolling green hills is once again quickly becoming dotted with new developments and “For Sale” signs as two lines of force converge along Route 39.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/expanding_suburbia_route_39_in.html#incart_river_default

Pottstown PA Crisis Born Of Greed And Neglect

Please watch this informative video about housing conditions in Pottstown.  It is very educational and eye-opening.

 

The Montgomery County Housing authority will holds its monthly meeting in Pottstown on Thursday, June 13. It will be at 4:30 p.m. in Bright Hope, 467 West King St.

Call 610-275-5720, Ext. 315 on that day for info and possible cancellations. Public is invited.

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

Lower Pottsgrove Faces 500 Units As Housing Market Picks Up

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

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.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130329/NEWS01/130329177/lower-pottsgrove-faces-500-units-as-housing-market-picks-up#full_story

Townhome Development Is The Gateway To Pottstown

Mrs. Smith site taken 2009, just model home completed

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.”

Read more:  http://business-news.thestreet.com/the-mercury/story/townhome-development-the-gateway-pottstown-1/1

City Of Reading: A Study In Contrasts

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks 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.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=423215

How Small Is Too Small?

Editor’s note:  Very interesting!

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.

Read more: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/how-small-is-too-small/

Proposed 772-Unit Project Hits Washington Township Snag

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

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.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396254

There’s A New Pottstown Area Chat Room/Forum

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

There’s a new player in town for Pottstown area residents who have something to say or would like to discuss Pottstown area issues with other residents or even nonresidents.

http://pottstalk.com/index.php is a chat room/forum with categories like General, Announcements, Local Politics, Schools, Housing, Revitalization, Reviews, Buy/Sell/Trade and more.

You just need to create an account and start talking. 

You are allowed to be anonymous.

Hopefully this will be more productive than Sound Off :)

Montgomery County HEARTH Act Community Forum

Montgomery County Office of Housing and Community Development is Seeking Your Participation!!

In 2009 Congress passed the HEARTH Act, the first new federal legislation governing homeless programs since 1987.  The Act provides for increased local flexibility in developing and prioritizing local strategies and may substantially change the way housing and services will be delivered to homeless families and individuals in Montgomery County. 

The Montgomery County Collaborative is partnering with the Montgomery County Office of Housing and Community Development to provide the community with current information on the HEARTH Act and the Montgomery County Housing Blueprint as well as to solicit your ideas and suggestions about how the County can best prevent and end homelessness and improve housing stability for all families and individuals.

You are invited.

You are invited to any of our community forums to learn about current affordable housing and homelessness in the County and to share your experiences and ideas about:

• Priorities for addressing different homeless subpopulations

• The performance of current local homeless programs

• Gaps and unmet needs in homeless housing and services

• Suggestions for program improvements

• Future strategies, including allocation/reallocation of resources.

Thursday, March 8, 9am – 11am

Salvation Army of Pottstown

137 King St. Pottstown, PA 19464

Hosted by the TCN Homeless Services Committee 

Please RSVP to Natina Parker at 610.705.3301 x 2 or by email to nparker@tcnetwork.org

US Manufacturing Grows For 17th Straight Month

Riveter at work at the Douglas Aircraft Corpor...

Image via Wikipedia

Interesting article from the Lansdale Reporter about manufacturing in the United States.  Easy read, not too long.  Good summary of our nation’s manufacturing status.

http://hosted2.ap.org/PALAP/02db2d7cf27349608ffb3d3ba8872aa0/Article_2011-01-03-Economy%20Manufacturing/id-d18bc859f52a433ea533a7590eccacf0