Historic Posey Iron Works Refitted As 11 Apartment Units

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Almost three years after city zoners approved developer Scott Graeber’s plan to turn the old Posey Iron Works administration offices into apartments, the building will soon welcome its first tenants.

Known as Lancaster Ironworks, the project involved renovating the approximately 9,000-square-foot, two-story brick structure at 560 S. Prince St. into 11 apartments, with rents starting at $900 a month.

According to newspaper records, the edifice was designed by Lancaster architect Henry Y. Shaub and constructed in two sections, in 1910 and 1916. It features a grand staircase, wood paneling, concrete flooring and a steel substructure.

Posey Iron Works, which operated until 1983, manufactured pipe, piling steel and wrought iron for industry. Its pipes were used to dredge the Panama Canal, and it supplied the Army and Navy during both World Wars, newspaper accounts show.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/historic-posey-iron-works-refitted-as-apartment-units/article_d4ebaf1e-1f26-11e4-9a42-001a4bcf6878.html

Wilkes-Barre Looking To Develop Downtown Sites

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city is shopping its downtown properties cleared during emergency demolition and sweetening the offer with the prospect of tax exemptions associated with a Keystone Opportunity Zone.

The city condemned its vacant structures last October that were in danger of collapse and entered a $194,861 contract to tear them down while leaving stand two other privately owned buildings located in the middle of the cluster.

Earlier this week, the city put out a request for proposals for development of the properties at 69, 71, 73-75 S. Main St. with a March 6 response deadline. The city would like to see multistory, mixed-use development on the site to include ground-floor specialty retail shops and restaurants and office or residential space above, similar to the University Corners property across the street.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1158435/City-looking-to-develop-sites

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CRIZ Program Could Bring Biz To Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — The state has a new economic development tool with the city’s name on it.

In truth, the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program applies to seven other third-class cities and Delaware County, the applicant for the city of Chester. The program is included in a tax-reform package signed into law last July by Gov. Tom Corbett.

The program allows the eligible cities to use tax money generated in designated zones to pay down the debt taken on for job creation and economic-development projects.

Drew McLaughlin, Wilkes-Barre’s municipal affairs manager, said the city has been researching the CRIZ program for a while.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/953436/CRIZ-program-could-bring-biz-to-Wilkes-Barre

Harrisburg Has Paid More Than $630K In Debt Service On $3.795M Capitol View Loan

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

HARRISBURG. PA – More than $630,000 in city grant funds have been diverted to repay a federal loan for the failed Capitol View project whose bankrupt developer awaits sentencing for fraud.

City officials say they’re hoping David Dodd’s sentence includes some restitution for Harrisburg, which guaranteed a $3.795 million federal loan for the project in 2006 that Dodd never repaid.

Between that, unpaid property taxes and another unpaid loan from the former Mayor’s Office of Economic Development program, Dodd’s project has become a $5 million liability for the city.

That amount doesn’t include city legal bills from engaging in his bankruptcy and fraud proceedings, or to defend the city against lawsuits from contractors never paid for their work on the $28 million project.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/09/harrisburg_paid_all_630k_of_de.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Harrisburg Officials Say They’ll Compromise On KOZ Incentive

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

HARRISBURG – City officials will decide next week whether to allow tax breaks to entice badly needed development on 10 properties – most of which do not generate any revenue currently.

Representatives from the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation, Hamilton Health Center, and the local public school district lobbied City Council’s Community Development Committee Wednesday night for a Keystone Opportunity Zone.

Target sites include four closed schools and the half-finished Capitol View Commerce Center abandoned by developer David Dodd, who’s now awaiting sentencing for defrauding the $28 million project of federal funds.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/harrisburg_officials_say_theyl.html#incart_river_default

Urban Outfitters Eyes $105 Million Expansion In Gap

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Urban Outfitters, with sales rising rapidly, figures it must add to its merchandise-distribution network to keep up.

And as part of its strategy to meet that need across North America, the firm wants another distribution center in this region.

Not just any old distribution center, though.

Urban Outfitters calculates that it has to be huge — a million square feet, or nearly the size of Park City Center — and state of the art.

What Urban Outfitters hasn’t yet determined is where to put the $105 million facility.

But among four sites under consideration is a farm across the street from an existing Urban Outfitters distribution center in Gap.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/861181_Urban-Outfitters-eyes–105M-expansion-in-Gap.html#ixzz2WCCoQp2H

Pottstown School Board Approves Keystone Tax Break For New Business

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  See what happens when we are all on the same page!  This sends a positive signal to the investment community that Pottstown is “OPEN FOR BUSINESS”.   This needs to happen more often.  Two Thumbs Up to all involved!

POTTSTOWN — With a 7-2 vote Monday night, the Pottstown School Board endorsed a property tax break for a business that wants to re-locate to the former 84 Lumber truss plant on Keystone Boulevard.

School board members Polly Weand and Andrew Kefer cast the only votes against endorsing the Keystone Opportunity Zone tax exemption for Conshohocken-based Heritage Coach Co., which sells hearses and limousines.

The vote comes just three days after state Rep. Mark Painter, D-146th Dist., announced his support for the tax break.

Under the terms of the deal negotiated by Schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana and Borough Manager Mark Flanders, Heritage would pay no property taxes in the first three years of the 10-year deal.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130326/NEWS01/130329480/pottstown-school-board-approves-tax-break-for-new-business

Pottstown School Board Urged To Approve KOZ Deal

Editor’s note:  We agree!

The Pottstown School Board is set to vote tonight on a tax break deal that would bring a new business to the Keystone Opportunity Zone.

Pottstown Borough Council has approved the tax break, but if the school board votes no, the plan is nixed.

The three boards that levy property tax — council, school board and county commissioners — must all approve it for the business to relocate to Pottstown.  Montgomery County Commissioners have said they will go along with whatever the two local governing bodies decide.

As with council, we urge the school board to vote yes to this proposal as an incentive to business and as a smart move in the longer view of the borough economic development.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130325/OPINION01/130329656/pottstown-school-board-urged-to-approve-koz-deal-#full_story

Pottstown, West Pottsgrove Push Extension Of Keystone Boulevard

POTTSTOWN — Just two days after borough council approved a property tax break for a new business proposed along Keystone Boulevard, officials from the borough and West Pottsgrove Township met to brainstorm about extending the road to the Grosstown Road exit off Route 422.

The extension of Keystone Boulevard through the former Flagg Brass property in West Pottsgrove and over to the Stowe interchange has long been envisioned and was the subject of an $81,000 study by the Rettew Assoc. engineering firm.

Paid for through a grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the grant brought both municipalities together to plan jointly for the project, which could cost as much as $10 million.

Although PennDOT does have plans for a $30 million improvement to the Stowe interchange as part of its long-range plans for upgrading Route 422, Brian Regli, Montgomery County’s Director of Commerce, told the assembled officials not to expect the state to come up with the money for that project any time soon.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130315/NEWS01/130319529/pottstown-w-pottsgrove-push-extension-of-keystone-blvd-#full_story

Pottstown Council OKs Business Tax Break With 4-3 Vote

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN — With a 4-3 vote, borough council Monday night approved a tax-abatement incentive for a hearse and limousine business seeking to take over the vacant former 84 Lumber building at 451 Keystone Blvd.

Councilmen Dan Weand, Travis Gery and Joe Kirkland voted against extending the Keystone Opportunity Zone property tax break, while it was supported by Council President Stephen Toroney, vice president Jeff Chomnuk and council members Mark Gibson and Carol Kulp.

The matter now moves to the school board, which oversees a much larger slice of the borough’s tax burden and stands to sacrifice substantially more money under the proposed agreement.  It is expected to vote on the matter at its March 25 meeting.

The Montgomery County Commissioners, who must also approve the deal, have indicated they will approve it as long as the borough and the school district do, according to Steve Bamford, Pottstown’s chief economic development officer and an advocate for the deal council approved.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130311/NEWS01/130319844/pottstown-council-oks-business-tax-break-with-4-3-vote#full_story

Pottstown Borough Council Dickers Over Tax Abatement Deal

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  Pottstown is already perceived as NOT business friendly.  Companies aren’t rushing to relocate there.  The KOZ site is empty.  The best chance of enticing other companies to build there is to get a business in there STAT.  Then you can market away.  These tax abatements are the cost of doing business.  Sadly, not many on council understand that.

POTTSTOWN — Several borough council members Wednesday picked at a proposed tax relief deal floated to bring a new business to town, saying the borough is giving too much away.

The discussion centers around the former 84 Lumber truss assembly plant at 451 Keystone Blvd., which a Conshohocken business wants to buy for a hearse and limousine company that would bring half a dozen jobs to the borough.

The site is located in Pottstown’s mostly moribund Keystone Opportunity Zone, which would allow for a property tax abatement on the property, with the agreement of council and the school board.

After knocking the subject around at the joint meeting between borough council and the school board on Feb. 26, Borough Manager Mark Flanders and Schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana were tasked with negotiating with Jay Lankford of Heritage Coach Co. Inc. to iron out a deal all sides could agree on.

Read more:   http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130308/NEWS01/130309489/pottstown-council-dickers-over-tax-abatement-deal#full_story

Pottstown Joint Meeting Wrestles With Jobs Versus Lost Tax Dollars

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN — During the first joint meeting of the year between borough council and the Pottstown School Board, discussion was free-flowing and frequent.

Perhaps highest on the list, and the subject which generated the most focused conversation, had to do with a business that wants to occupy the former 84 Lumber truss plant at the end of Keystone Boulevard.

Steve Bamford, the director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development Inc. and the borough’s chief economic development officer, gave for the third time, an overview of the Keystone Opportunity Zone program and the request from Heritage Coach Co. to occupy some of the space there.

Sellers of hearses and limousines, Heritage began as a side business for the Lankford family, which also operated a GM dealership in Conshohocken that was shut down during what Jay Lankford, a Hill School graduate, called GM’s “political sham of a bankruptcy.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130228/NEWS01/130229383/pottstown-joint-meeting-wrestles-with-jobs-vs-lost-tax-dollars#full_story

Developer Of Old Armorcast Site Wants Big Tax Break From Daniel Boone School District

Now that the former Armorcast factory in Birdsboro is demolished, the property owner and developers are hoping to also clear the unpaid real estate taxes.

Steve Marshall, a lawyer for Meco Demolition Inc. of Bensalem, Bucks County, asked the Daniel Boone School Board this week to waive or reduce real estate taxes from 2007 to 2011 for the 91-acre property.  Unpaid taxes owed to the district total about $86,000.

Owner Gregory Flynn of Armorcast LP hired Meco to demolish the dilapidated factory, which produced steel for tanks during World War II.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=444662

Neapco Moving Headquarters To Michigan – Today’s Mercury Coverage

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

According to a write up in today’s Pottstown Mercury, Neapco is now moving their corporate headquarters to Michigan.  A Neapco VP says this will have a minimal impact on what’s left here in Pottstown.  Still very sad.

Then, as one reads along, a bomb is dropped.  The article is talking about how manufacturing was consolidated in Beatrice, Nebraska and how the state of Nebraska gave Neapco a $1 million dollar loan.  The expansion of production facilities in Nebraska created 70 jobs. (how nice for Nebraska)

The next paragraph made me absolutely sick.  The same VP, Keith Sanford, goes on to say “no financial incentives to consolidate the company’s manufacturing in Pottstown were offered by any organization in Montgomery County or the borough.”  90 jobs were eliminated in Pottstown as a direct result.  Nebraska offered Neapco financial incentives to move our jobs out of Pottstown!

Well isn’t that just special!  If somebody would have called Harrisburg there is money for these types of things.  Ed Rendell, when not busy yelling at Leslie Stahl, has gotten involved with numerous other communities to keep jobs in PA! 

Considering that jobs are hard to come by in Pottstown, other than fast food and retail, we should have at least tried to offer them something.  It sounds like they might have been receptive.

We have a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) in this town with one business in it (that I am aware of).  I bet Harrisburg would have come up with money to expand on Queen Street OR build Neapco a new modern facility in our KOZ, which offers tax incentives to businesses!  

We could have kept our 90 jobs and added more jobs.  Instead, Nebraska added 70 more jobs and we lost 90!

Keystone Opportunity Zones are such a breakthrough idea that Business Facilities magazine calls them “the number one economic development strategy in the nation.” By eliminating specific state and local taxes within specific underdeveloped and underutilized areas, communities within Pennsylvania are experiencing economic growth and investment.  

Here is a link to the website where the above quote is from:

http://www.newpa.com/build-your-business/locate/keystone-opportunity-zones

Chester’s $500 Million Dollar “Renaissance On The River”

PPL Park during the inaugural match between Ph...

Image via Wikipedia

It all began when PECO Energy closed its inefficient Delaware County Power Plant along the banks of the Delaware River in Chester.  The 400,000 square foot structure and the surrounding site needed some serious clean up.  After all, for most of the last century the 100 acre site was home to a huge coal to steam to electric power plant!  PECO sold 63 acres to Preferred Real Estate Investments (PREI).  They gave the City of Chester seven acres and PECO operates some small peak generating units and a substation on 20 acres.

PECO and PREI spent 1½ years and $10 million dollars on environmental clean up and demolition so that this structure could be turned into a mixed-use Class A office and retail space.  The Wharf at Rivertown is also located in a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) which gives amazing tax incentives to companies who open a business within its borders. (Pottstown has a KOZ off College Drive).  This project is an example of adaptive reuse.  From 10,000 tons of scrap metal to 20,000 tons of bricks (and everything in between) were recycled in this project.

This $60 million dollar project has 1.4 million square feet of space, two marinas, restaurants and a river walk.  Tenants include Wells Fargo, Synergy, AdminServer, Achristavest and the Power Home Remodeling Group

Also included within the larger Rivertown complex is the $120 million dollar, 18,500-seat, PPL Park.  PPL Park is the home of the Philadelphia Union, a Major League Soccer team, and was financed in part by a $25 million dollar economic revitalization package given by the state of Pennsylvania.  Chester also received another $7 million dollars from the state to be used towards a two-phase project in the Rivertown complex which includes 186 townhouses, 25 apartments, 335,000 square feet of office space, a 200,000 square-foot convention center, 20,000 square feet of retail space and a parking structure for 1,350 cars.  The second half of the project will include 200 apartments, 100,000 square feet of office space and 22,000 square feet of retail space.

The Pennsylvania State Corrections Institution Chester and the 100,000 square-foot Harrah’s Casino and Racetrack are also located within Rivertown.  Originally, this land was part of the Sun Shipbuilding Complex that at one time employed 40,000 people!

The Wharf at Rivertown has added 1,200 jobs to Chester.  It is expected to eventually add 2,500 jobs.  Other projects such as PPL Park, the prison and Harrah’s significantly add to that total.  PPL Park, which opened June 27, 2010, is seen as “the spark” that will ignite a full-scale renaissance of Pennsylvania’s first city, Chester.

Another benefit of this project is that a half mile of riverfront was opened back up to the community after nearly 100 years.

Sounds better than senior rental apartments, now doesn’t it!

Hat tip to Jeff Leflar for suggesting I write about this.