York’s West End: Businesses Want To Infuse New Life Into Neighborhood

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

Just across the Codorus Creek from the heart of York’s downtown, a steady line of traffic regularly passes through the 200 block of West Philadelphia Street, following the turn of the street uphill past smartly painted homes and storefronts.

Growing up in York more than three decades ago, Steve Billet knew the area colloquially as the “colonial block.” It was a place that had a good reputation and housed property that was a wise investment for owners, he said.

On a Monday in March, however, many of the cars that idled at a nearby stoplight would continue on West Philadelphia without stopping. The idea that the city has nothing to offer has plagued York’s image and dissuaded business owners for years, and many entrepreneurs have struggled to make their shop a destination.

Still, when Billet had an opportunity to purchase a building in the 200 block in 1999, he took it. And when he and his partner David Smith decided to drop out of the rat race — as Smith puts it — to switch careers and return to the city, they settled on the spot that Billet had bought a decade and a half before as the site of their new venture.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_25440353/yorks-west-end-businesses-want-infuse-new-life

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Reading Authority Approves 250 Parcels For New Program

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

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

The City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority – working fast to meet a Nov. 30 deadline – on Friday approved 250 parcels spread over 129 acres to be included in the zone.

At its next meeting Monday, the 10-member board will be asked to suggest three or four potential projects on three or four of those sites.

Board members said the projects are realistic but are not set in stone, and will be used as illustrations of how the state’s newest economic development program could help Reading.

That program, aimed at attracting new firms with new jobs, lets cities use the new state and local taxes the zones generate to finance property purchases, infrastructure projects, and even new buildings.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519968

Officials Announce Plans To Apply For Redevelopment Runding For Reading

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The city’s plans to apply for a major revitalization zone went public this morning, as the effort won approval from local business and community groups, county officials and even colleges and state legislators that will collaborate on the effort.

“We’re a team,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat.

“We’re totally committed to work on a united effort to get a proposal in place,” Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said.

Council and the local businesses clearly are in on the effort, Council President Francis G. Acosta said.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=515531

State Agency OKs Millions More In Loans For Projects In Downtown Reading

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with ...

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with Berks County courthouse on left; July 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A state agency has approved an extra $5 million in low-cost loans for new projects in downtown Reading, as well as an extra $1 million for the planned Doubletree Hotel on Penn Street.

The loans, sought months ago and already part of the hotel’s financing package, were formally approved today by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

Both packages will go through the Greater Berks Development Fund.

The $5 million will be available for as-yet-undetermined downtown projects, said Edward J. Swoyer, Greater Berks executive director.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=511616

Easton Approves $1 Million Grant For Public Market Project

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

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

Easton will get a public market in every way.

City Council voted Wednesday to give the Greater Easton Development Partnership, a city-run and supported entity, $1 million toward turning the former Weller Health Education Center into a public market.  The market would occupy much of the first floor of the building, in the 300 block of Northampton St., and feature small shops run by local food producers and vendors.

Council voted 5-2 on the grant, with Elinor Warner and Roger Ruggles in opposition. GEDP plans to pay back the grant, but since the deal had to be structured as a grant, there is no guarantee of repayment.  That irked Ruggles. Warner questioned whether the market could generate enough money to payback the city, and whether it was a good investment of tax payer money.

“I just think the public market shouldn’t be paid for by the public,” Warner said.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/easton/mc-easton-city-council-approves-alpha-building-sal-20130912,0,7723454.story#ixzz2egokxgcm 
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Reading Officials Anticipate Announcement Of Funding For Downtown Project

Picture 533Reading officials are hoping that a visit Wednesday from the state’s community and economic development secretary will result in millions of dollars in grant money to build a thriving business district downtown.

City officials are anticipating that the state has accepted the city’s application to be designated as a Keystone Community, which would provide access to economic development-related funds.

They say they haven’t been given the final word, but city officials said state Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker is coming to Reading to make an announcement Wednesday.

“We’re hoping that’s part of the reason why he’s coming,” Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said Monday.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=502229

Reading Weighs Accepting Grant For More Firefighters

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We can’t predict the future. Take the money, hire the people and hope for the best!

Spending a $4 million federal grant to the city is not as easy as it seems.

The problem is not what the grant would do – hire 30 new and badly needed firefighters for the next two years, adding more personnel to each truck – but what happens to those firefighters when the grant expires.

Fire Chief David Hollinger and City Council labored over the issues Monday night.

On the positive side, the grant does not require the city to keep the grant-paid firefighters after the grant runs out in March 2015.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=443754

West Reading: Keeping It Fresh On The Avenue

When West Reading’s state and community-funded Main Street Program on Penn Avenue reached maturity in 2005, a total of 66 businesses had been created in six years, along with more than 125 jobs.

Grant funding of $6 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development revitalized the streetscape with new facades, sidewalk and traffic-lane design, and pedestrian and street lighting.

What’s going on in West Reading to maintain and expand the cycle of growth on the hippest street in the county? Some businesses still flounder, while others take root and grow.

Read more: http://businessweekly.readingeagle.com/?p=1908