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

Hotel Sterling Demo Could Change More Than Just The Landscape

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Ali Kazimi’s arrival at work was memorable Tuesday because the seven-story Hotel Sterling next door was almost entirely demolished.

“It was strange. You can see the eagles on the Market Street Bridge from our property.  We have a riverfront view,” said Kazimi, the third-generation owner of M. Abraham Importer on West Market, which opened by the once bustling Sterling in 1927.

Kazimi looks forward to losing that view to new development on the 4-acre Sterling parcel.  City officials condemned and demolished the former hotel and plan to seize the cleared lot from its nonprofit owner, CityVest, so the site can be marketed and sold to a private developer.

Read more:   http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/715688/View-from-River-and-Market-is-optimistic

A New Dawn For Downtown Easton

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette ...

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Dear Bobbleheads on Pottstown Borough Council, please notice Easton is not salivating over Section 8 housing projects and cheap townhomes.  There is job creation, shopping, dining, entertainment and population growth in the coveted 25- 35 y/o demographic and the seniors with disposable income segment. MARKET RATE HOUSING is attracting people with jobs!  Easton had 26,800 people as of the 2010 census so we are talking a Pottstown-sized community. Take a field trip!

“We threw every zoning and land development regulation away,” Bradley said. “We opened the frontier to the investment that happened after that.”

Diane Haviland and her husband, Ken Greene, are empty-nesters who found Easton’s downtown by accident. Preparing for their retirement years in 2010, they bought 4 acres in Harmony Township, N.J., to build their 3,500-square-foot dream home, complete with a pool, library and bar.

They’d rented an apartment in Easton while they built what they assumed would be their last home. The designs were drawn and building permits issued, but as they stood on the empty lot ready to turn the bulldozers loose, Haviland and Greene had a joint epiphany.

“We looked at each other and thought, why would we leave Easton? We love it there,” Haviland said. “So, now I have plans for a beautiful home and 4 acres for sale.”

The couple bought a vacant three-story building on Centre Square.  After a more than $1 million renovation, they’ll rent out the first floor and live out their years in the floors above.

Read more:   http://www.mcall.com/news/local/easton/mc-easton-downtown-boom-20130601,0,4168076,full.story

Downtown Pittsburgh Building Boom Shows No Signs Of Letting Up

Pittsburgh Downtown at Night

Pittsburgh Downtown at Night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The development boom in the city center is showing no signs of abating.

Whether it’s in urban living, where three-quarters of the residents are relative newcomers, or light-rail transit usage, which saw an increase last year thanks to the new North Shore Connector, or reports of yet another hotel in the works, Downtown’s fortunes continue to be on the rise.

At least that appears to be the case based on a new Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership report measuring economic activity in and around the Golden Triangle last year.  The “State of Downtown Pittsburgh 2013″ details a number of encouraging trends, from the widely reported bump in residential and office space demand to an increase in the number of building permits issued for improvements last year.

Overall, the partnership counted 60 projects totaling more than $2.2 billion that have been announced or are under construction in the city’s core and fringes, including the 33-story, $400 million Tower at PNC Plaza on Wood Street, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/downtown-pittsburgh-building-boom-shows-no-signs-of-letting-up-687244/#ixzz2TBe3tPvI

Financing For Pennsylvania Turnpike/I-95 Connector Concerns Auditor General

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

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

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Friday that an unusual plan to finance construction of the I-95/Pennsylvania Turnpike connection “raises alarms” and may prompt an investigation by his office.

DePasquale said he was especially interested in why an entity was created to broker the deal, in which wealthy foreign investors would lend the turnpike $200 million in exchange for possible permanent residence in the United States.

DePasquale said his office was legally bound to wait until a transaction is completed before launching an audit, so “it may be several months or longer” before he formally investigates the turnpike plan.

“I am going to follow this situation carefully,” DePasquale said.  “It raises some alarms.  I’m not taking a position that it’s wrong yet. . . . We’ll wait till the issue is ripe for an audit.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130511_Financing_for_turnpike_I-95_connector_concerns_auditor_general.html#KbbfJ65OCH8owKzj.99

Amato Revs Up Downtown Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — Businessman and former dragster driver Joe Amato told his story Friday morning to about 100 people gathered at the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Executive Management Forum at Genetti Hotel and Conference Center in the city’s downtown.

And it was his $5 million downtown investment Amato talked about most.  He revealed that Judd Shoval of Kingston is moving his business — Ambit and Shoval — to the theater complex on East Northampton Street and that only three other retail spots remain vacant.

Shoval did not return messages left on his cellphone and at his business.  will release more information on his plans next week, Amato said.

“Downtown Wilkes-Barre has a pulse,” he said.  “It has a sense of direction.  More than 400,000 people go to the movies every year and use the parking garage.  We have to get them outside to the street and patronize the businesses there.”

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local/465584/Amato-revs-up-downtown-W-B

Pennsylvania Third-Class Cities’ Problems, Solutions May Be Addressed

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

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

All 53 of Pennsylvania’s third-class cities share common bonds, and one state senator believes legislators who represent those cities should band together to help address their common challenges.

“Sprawl, changing demographics, public safety concerns and archaic tax structure have drained the vitality of our once-vibrant downtowns,” state Sen. John N. Wozniak, D-Johnstown, wrote in a letter to his colleagues.  “Since the causes are not unique, we can’t stand by and ask local government officials to stem a tide that is overwhelming their capacity and authority to innovate.”

Wozniak noted in the letter to colleagues from both parties in the Senate and House that while the state’s historic downtowns are unique, the fiscal problems they face are not.  With that in mind, Wozniak is proposing the creation of a bipartisan “Third-Class City Caucus.”

“We can no longer afford to consider the plight of our cities as a concern that is separate from the overall welfare of our Commonwealth,” he said.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/stories/Third-class-cities-problems-solutions-may-be-addressed,256451

Mohegan Sun The Latest To Bet On “Dying” Atlantic City

Tuesday’s official announcement that Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, via its consulting arm, Mohegan Gaming Advisors, will assume management of Resorts Casino-Hotel seems to be a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

It’s certainly big news that the financially beleaguered gaming hall — the oldest legal casino east of Nevada — has exponentially increased its chances for long-term survival via the newly forged partnership with Mohegan Sun (which is pending state regulatory approval), as well as through the recently consummated deal that will turn a sizable portion of Resorts real estate over to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville brand. But there is a much larger picture here.

For all the of the “experts’” braying about Atlantic City’s gambling industry suffering a terminal case of competitionitis, the fact is that AyCee has recently seen a large infusion of investments – upwards of $200 million, not including Revel’s $2.4 billion price tag.

If the town were indeed “dying,” why would such big-time outfits as Mohegan Sun, Margaritaville and Golden Nugget expend so many resources, financial and otherwise, on the seaside resort? We can assume the folks running these companies are not completely clueless and incompetent. Which leaves the possibility that the smart money sees a rosy future for Atlantic City as a big-time destination.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/homepage/165482725.html#ixzz23AN6mms6
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AOL To Sell 800 Patents To Microsoft For $1 Billion

The second logo for AOL, used from 2006–2009

The second logo for AOL, used from 2006–2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Reuters) – AOL Inc said it would sell over 800 of its patents and related applications to Microsoft Corp , and would grant Microsoft a non-exclusive license to the patents it retains, for slightly over $1 billion in cash.

AOL’s shares jumped 37 percent to $25.16 in trading before the bell on Monday. They closed at $18.42 on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Internet company said it plans to return a “significant portion of the sale proceeds” to shareholders.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/business/sns-rt-us-aol-microsoftbre83809x-20120409,0,3464198.story

Pottstown – Crime vs. Revitalization

Pottstown had a murder this week.  Based on information found in the newspaper, the home is owned by a company in Exton.  Enough said.

I have been quiet about crime lately because I feel it falls on deaf ears.  However, if we think people don’t investigate crime rates before deciding to relocate to a specific community we would be naïve.  That goes for business as well.  We keep talking about how Pottstown is going to revitalize but it’s not happening.  A great big problem aka the elephant in the room is the crime rate and the horrible reputation this community has in the outside world.  Yes, life does exist beyond the borough lines and people do pay attention to what happens here.  An UGG BOOTS ban in the Pottstown Middle School made the national news.

Pottstown’s crime rate went up drastically between 2009 and 2010.  Our city-data.com score rose from 456.6 to 535.6.  The U.S. average is 319.1.  Pottstown’s crime rate is significantly higher (BAD).  As a matter of fact, it was higher than many of the largest cities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2010.  Yes, you read that correctly!

City                                Population       Crime Index

Allentown, PA             118,032 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 476.5 (2010)

Bethlehem, PA              74,982 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 236.1 (2010)

Lancaster, PA               59,433 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 519.4 (2010)

York, PA                        44,718 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 582.4 (2010)

Scranton, PA                76,089 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 275.4 (2010)

Philadelphia, PA      1,526,006 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 567.7 (2010)

Pittsburgh, PA             305,704 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 411.3 (2010)

Erie, PA                      101,786 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 347.4 (2010)

Reading, PA                 88,082 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 548.3 (2010)

Harrisburg, PA              49,528 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index – 721.6 (2010)

POTTSTOWN, PA         22,377 (2010)    City-Data Crime Index535.6 (2010)

I find this evidence both appalling and disgraceful.  Pottstown was the 74th largest municipality in Pennsylvania as of the 2010 census.  We should not have higher crime than six of the major cities in this state.  We are below Philadelphia and Reading, but not by much! Harrisburg is evidently in a class by itself!

My point being, this information is very easy to find.  Millions of people use sites like City-data.com to research communities before moving to or investing in them.  So borough leadership, what exactly is the game plan to correct Pottstown’s out of control crime problem?  Ignoring the problem is not a solution!

Somebody better get a clue, like yesterday!

Harsco Corporation Turning Little Used Site Near Capitol Into Regional Warehouse And Distribution Center

Recreation of the flag of the city of Harrisbu...

Image via Wikipedia

The City of Harrisburg is going to benefit from more urban renewal when Harsco Corporation turns a 21-acre site near the Pennsylvania State Capitol into a regional warehouse and distribution center.

The number of jobs created is relatively small at 20; however the site gets cleaned up and given a purpose.  Considering its proximity to our State Capitol Complex, this is good news as it will enhance the appearance the area surrounding the capitol.  Harsco is spending $2 million to renovate the site which is a significant investment in the City of Harrisburg.  The improvements should be completed by April.

More good news is that Harsco will be relocating 35 senior-level positions to a new site near its Camp Hill headquarters.  This move will help Harsco’s leadership function as a more unified team.

To learn more about this company, you may click on their website:

http://www.harsco.com/

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

Readers’ View In Today’s Mercury

I would like to say three cheers to Tom Carroll for his comments in today’s Mercury.

Tom hit the nail on the head folks.  The petty squabbling has GOT TO STOP.  If Pottstown expects to get grants and aid from state and federal agencies there must be a common vision that is supported by the majority of leaders in this community.  Until that time comes, we ain’t gettin’ squat!  Nobody is going to throw money at a community that can’t agree on anything and constantly fights among itself.

The cartoon was also SPOT ON today.  If Pottstown can’t embrace change and think outside the box, investors will go elsewhere.  More border development.  If we can’t work and play well with others, nobody is going to bother with Pottstown.  Unfortunately, Pottstown has a reputation as being difficult to deal with and not business friendly.  If I have heard that, you bet prospective investors have heard that as well. 

I am not pointing fingers at anyone or any group.  I am simply saying things need to change before we can move forward.  I think that is obvious.

Fire Damaged Building On High Street Being Rebuilt!!

It is very exciting that the hole in the 200 block of High Street is disappearing.  Almost two years ago a huge fire damaged Lastic Furniture and several other adjacent businesses.  This created an unsightly gap in the middle of downtown Pottstown.

At first it appeared as though the rebuilding had begun.  Then it stalled for what seemed like an eternity.  I was afraid it was another economic casualty but lo and behold the phoenix rises!  A nice new building is filling this space in our downtown. 

I cannot stress enough the importance of not allowing the downtown to resemble Beiruit!  Kudos to the owners for honoring their commitment to rebuild in downtown Pottstown! 

Further down High Street another burned out building is runder construction as well.  Great signs of progress for Pottstown.  People are still willing to invest here.  As long as that is the case, don’t count us out!