High Hopes For $38 Million Project In Pleasantville

Map of New Jersey highlighting Atlantic County

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.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20141006_High_hopes_for__38_million_project_in_Pleasantville.html#ZlSiLKCqFZQAdj9H.99

Allentown Developer Announces New Project, Possible Rooftop Restaurant

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The developer already behind $500 million of development in downtown Allentown has something new up his sleeve.

J.B. Reilly announced plans Wednesday to renovate a blighted vacant building at Eighth and Linden streets, turning the ground level floor into 4,000-square-feet of retail space.

The upper floors of the three-story building will become either apartments or office space, and a rooftop restaurant could be established there as well, Reilly said.

“We think this is a really important project because it’s sort of the gateway into the residential neighborhood,” said Reilly, president of

City Center Lehigh Valley. “We think it’ll have a pretty big impact on the neighborhood outside the NIZ.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/10/allentown_developer_announces.html

Gov. Corbett Announces Redevelopment Grant For Former Saks Site, Oliver Building

Trinity Epsicopal with its neighbors, the Oliv...

Trinity Epsicopal with its neighbors, the Oliver Building and the old Gimbels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Surrounded by an array of Pittsburgh civic and development interests, Gov. Tom Corbett stood in Mellon Square Monday to announce a $4 million state grant to seed the redevelopment of the Henry W. Oliver Building and its neighbor, the former Saks Fifth Avenue department store.

Mr. Corbett told a small crowd overlooking the planned developments that the Henry W. Oliver Building had special interest for him because he had worked in an office there during his career in private practice before joining the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Noting that he had been in the city last week to release state funds for a theater project for Point Park University, Mr. Corbett called Pittsburgh, “a model for redevelopment and smart growth.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/09/29/Governor-Corbett-announced-redevelopment-grant-for-Downtown-Pittsburgh/stories/201409290199

Zoning Change Approved, Finally, For Franklin Mint Site

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County

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

MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP, PA –  A decade after the Franklin Mint closed, its round museum building still sits vacant along busy Baltimore Pike in Delaware County.

Development of the prominent property has been plagued by opposition from residents, a slow economy, and – most recently – a legal battle among the developers.

But the plan took a step forward this week when a revised zoning ordinance won approval from the Middletown Township Council. The site, with more than 170 acres, could now have 350 townhouses, offices, retail space, and a hotel.

Its completion could take years. By that time, the site could become just one piece in a transformation of the heavily traveled Route 1 through Middletown.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140301_Zoning_change_approved__finally__for_Franklin_Mint_site.html#61TJpi4ej4yS7q3Z.99

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Philly Firm To Develop PNC Building In Downtown Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA —Floors three to 11 are empty.

That’s what is on the board in the lobby of the downtown PNC Bank Building. It lists the only tenant — PNC Bank — which occupies the first and second floor of the 12-story building.

But if plans go forward, those nine floors of the building at Market and Franklin streets will become market-priced condominiums with views of the Susquehanna River and the River Common park. Some office space will also be created, according to the building’s owner.

Ben Oller, of Oller and Associates of Philadelphia, said Monday his real estate investment company owns the building and is partnering with a local developer to renovate the bank building, following the lead of a similar project at the nearby the former Citizens Bank Building, also Market Street. Oller would not disclose the name of the local development company.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1215383/Philly-firm-to-develop-PNC-building

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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

Fiber Optics Headquarters To Occupy New 10-Story Building In Allentown

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

York-based United Fiber & Data will occupy a new 10-story building behind the Butz Corporate Center in the 800 block of Hamilton Street in Allentown.

The building will rise behind the existing Butz structures, and have three floors of parking garage and four stories of office space topped by three stories of apartments and condominiums.  It’s a long-planned third phase of the Butz headquarters, located across 9th Street from the PPL tower.

Details are being announced this morning.

From its new Allentown headquarters, United Fiber & Data will run a new 300-mile fiber optics network serving clients from New York to Virginia.  The company will occupy a just-completed Butz building on Hamilton until Butz completes the new structure in spring 2015.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-niz-butz-fiber-optic-20130517,0,5580943.story

Downtown Wilkes-Barre Putting On A New Face

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

The loud purple facade of the former Flaming Star Tattoos shop will soon be toned down to fit in with the downtown Wilkes-Barre neighborhood’s historical character — a subtle yet significant sign of once-shuttered storefronts being renovated or reopened around the theater complex.

It wasn’t just the color that unsettled city officials who saw the potential for the shop’s row of old architecture on South Main Street. It was the way the vibrant hue stopped midway up the building in an uneven line, accentuating the unfinished progress of the paint job and much of the neighborhood.

“One of the first things the new owners will do is repaint that facade,” said attorney William Vinsko, who bought the building at a Luzerne County back-tax auction for $33,000 last week on behalf of private clients who will be identified when the deed is recorded.  The buyers plan to renovate the property at 86 S. Main St. to attract tenants, Vinsko said.

Next door, Joseph and Pamela Masi are redoing the facade and interior of their property, which previously housed Topper’s topless bar, Vinsko said.  The Masis, who purchased the property for $85,000 in 2010, have added an ice cream shop at the rear of the property.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/462842/Putting-on-a-new-face

Philadelphia’s Washington Avenue Green

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

Formerly known as Pier 53, Washington Avenue Green is located at Washington Avenue, just south of the Coast Guard station and behind the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union Hall, 1301 South Columbus Boulevard.  The one-acre site on the long-abandoned pier is one of the few tracts along the Delaware riverfront that is owned by the City of Philadelphia.  It is the first of the public parks to be created by the Action Plan for the Central Delaware. Because there has been no commercial activity at that location for decades, the pier that originally had welcomed ships and freight carriers has deteriorated, and both native and non-native trees and plants took hold and flourished.

The rotted piers and eroded shoreline have become a nursery for migrating fish and a permanent home for several species of mussels.

This newly discovered habitat is being exploited and informs the park’s unique spirit.  Delaware Avenue Green has been redesigned and reconstructed as a public space on the interim trail that is planned for the southern section of the Central Delaware.

Read more: http://washingtonavenuegreen.com/

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

Allentown Developer Plans Tallest Building In Lehigh Valley

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After decades of spreading out, Allentown could be growing up, its skyline altered by the Lehigh Valley‘s tallest building.

Developer Bruce Loch unveiled plans Wednesday for the 33-story Landmark Tower at Ninth and Walnut streets. The $60-million project would include nearly 200,000 square feet of office, retail and residential space and eclipse the vacant Martin Tower, the former headquarters of Bethlehem Steel and the Valley’s tallest building, by 20 feet.

Loch, an experienced residential builder in the Lehigh Valley with more than $100 million in development under his belt, is making his first foray into this type of project, which he said would be on a lot owned by the Allentown Parking Authority, next to the authority’s garage on Walnut Street.

The property is in the city’s one-of-a-kind Neighborhood Improvement Zone, which allows developers to tap tenants’ state and city taxes, not including property taxes, to finance construction.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-lehigh-valley-tallest-building-20130327,0,5430141.story

Affordable-Housing Development Moves Forward In Norristown

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  What a crock!  Thumbs down!

A mixed-use affordable-housing development is moving forward in Norristown despite opposition from some residents.

The plan calls for 96 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as 5,000 square feet of retail space, at DeKalb and Airy Street.  Sixty units would be reserved for low- and moderate-income residents.

The site is now a parking lot owned by Montgomery County.  The county deemed it underused, and in February agreed to transfer ownership through a profit-sharing redevelopment deal.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/suburban_pa/20130327_Affordable-housing_development_moves_forward_in_Norristown.html

York’s State-Of-The-Art Housing Complex To Open In April

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

York, PA – The sawdust floated down like late-winter snow, but officials said by summer the city will have more than two dozen state-of-the-art housing units and a bright new view along South George Street.

George Street Commons, a collaborative effort between the City of York, the Y Community Development Corporation and Ohio-based developer PIRHL is nearing completion, according to Kevin Schreiber, the city’s community and economic development director.

Residents could begin to move in to part of the $10 million, 28-unit site along East College Avenue as early as April, he said.  It should be completed by August.

“This is a really strong, good city project, a good, mixed-use development,” he said, walking the muddy construction site on Friday.  “There’s a lot here we’re excited about.”

Read more:  http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_22615510/yorks-state-art-housing-complex-open-april

Neuweiler Brewery In Allentown To Get New Life

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Allentown is on FIRE with development!

New York City-based Ruckus Brewing would like to put the beer back in the old Neuweiler Brewery in Allentown.

The company announced Wednesday that it had won the right to try to convert the run-down property into a multipurpose development it would call Brewer’s Hill.

The centerpiece of the roughly $25 million project would be a brewery that would produce Ruckus’ line of microbrews and other craft beers on a contract basis, said Josh Wood, a Lehigh University graduate and co-owner of Ruckus.

“It is a big property,” Wood said. “The overall gist of it is about 50 percent — maybe a little less — we plan to use for brewing purposes or something related to that.”

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-neuweiler-butz-brewery-20130102,0,6194957.story

$65 Million Mixed-Use Community Planned For Phoenixville

PHOENIXVILLE — The long-abandoned Phoenix Steel parcel on Bridge Street is about to be redeveloped into a $65 million mixed-use community by O Creek Associates.

The proposed Shoppes at French Creek will be made up of 80,000 square feet of retail, 275 apartments and 30,000 square feet of office space on seven acres that was once Phoenix Steel’s parcel O, hence the name of the development company.

“It will be a place to live, work and hang out,” said developer Manny DeMutis, the managing partner of O Creek Associates, a private equity group…

To read the entire article from the Daily Local, click here:

http://business-news.thestreet.com/daily-local-news/story/mixed-use-development-moving-forward-phoenixville-video-0/1

Developer Charlie Jefferson: A Driving Force Behind Scranton’s Downtown Renaissance

 Connell Building exterior

My trip to Scranton included meeting and touring with Charlie Jefferson, along with Mayor Doherty.  Charlie is a Scranton developer who has a passion for his work and a desire to see Scranton blossom.  Charlie is responsible for the dramatic transformation of the Connell Building.  Charlie, like Mayor Doherty, is very down-to-earth and approachable.

Charlie took us inside the Connell Building.  The eight-story building sat vacant for 10 years before being developed.  The building’s occupancy rate was about 20 percent for ten years before becoming vacant.  Now there are 89 new 1 – 2 bedroom, market-priced, luxury loft apartments.  The building has been beautifully restored, while maintaining historical integrity and bringing the building up to code.  Every loft is rented.  There is a waiting list!  I have no interior pictures of any apartments because there is no model and Charlie was unable to contact anyone who might have let us tour and photograph their apartment home.  Maybe next trip!

The bottom two floors of the Connell Building will be used for commercial/retail/office.  This will be a great example of mixed-use development when this part is finished.  Charlie said he is working with a grocery store to move into the building along with other tenants to fill the remaining commercial/retail/office space.  Imagine the convenience of going down an elevator to the grocery store.  No driving, parking and traffic!  City living at its finest!

Another nice feature of the Connell Building is the attached parking garage.  Secure garage parking is available to all the residents of the Connell Building if they choose to rent a space.

Over 50% of the Connell Building’s tenants are new residents to Scranton and Lackawanna County.  There is a growing segment of people who want to live in a redeveloped heritage property.  These people are usually well-educated professionals who want the best urban living has to offer.  There are looking for walkable downtowns with fine restaurants, shopping, cultural events, services and entertainment.  Concentrated pockets of people in a downtown, with disposable income, will greatly increase the customer base for stores, restaurants and other businesses in general.  This phenomenon is not necessarily limited to the 20’s – 30’s demographic.  There are more middle-agers and seniors who want to sell the house, downsize and become urban dwellers entering this emerging market.

The Connell Building’s first tenant is a grandson of the building’s original owner.  He was very excited to see his family’s former building redeveloped and wanted to be part of the renaissance in Scranton.

Charlie’s newest project is the redevelopment of the former Chamber of Commerce Building, not far from the Connell Building.  The building is now vacant.  Like the Connell Building, the old Chamber Building was constructed during Scranton’s King Coal heyday.  It is very opulent.  Charlie plans to do the same thing with this building as he did with the Connell Building.  It is expected that Scranton will need 600 more apartments/condominiums in the next 5 years because of the medical college and spin-off development.  If the law school becomes a reality, that number will substantially increase. 

Charlie took us inside the old Chamber Building and we poked around.  Structurally it is in great shape and ripe for development.  The building has amazing architectural features and many of the apartments will feature spectacular views of downtown Scranton.  There will be balconies!  This project will rent out quickly because of the location and unique features of the space.  The success of the Connell Building has paved the way for further mixed-use development downtown.

I am looking forward to the completion of Charlie’s newest project.  It promises to be amazing.

Having a great developer, like Charlie Jefferson, to work with is a huge part of the redevelopment process.  Mayor Doherty has surrounded himself with some very competent people to help turn his vision for Scranton into a reality.

 

Chamber Building pictures below, currently vacant awaiting development!

Scranton: Northeast Pennsylvania’s Economic Growth Engine (Part One)

I recently had the pleasure of being given a tour of downtown Scranton by Mayor Chris Doherty.  Here are some thoughts and observations from my experience.

Mayor Doherty is a very down-to-earth person.  I was impressed by his friendliness towards the residents of Scranton and his commitment to the city.  We were joined by developer Charlie Jefferson.  Charlie developed the Connell Building and is working on some other projects in Scranton.  I will be writing a separate article about Charlie and his projects.  These two gentlemen made my trip enjoyable and highly productive!

Mayor Doherty gave me some basic information, before we left the office, about what has gone on in Scranton during the ten years he has been mayor.  When Mayor Doherty took office there were 22 empty buildings in downtown Scranton.  Scranton had hit a low point.  He decided his focus as mayor would be finances, the parks system and the downtown.  Former Governor Ed Rendell gave Scranton $140 million during the eight years he was in office.  It has certainly been put to good use.

One thing which pleasantly surprised me is the walkability of the downtown, for a mid-sized city.  The nice grid pattern of the streets, good signage and cleanliness were huge pluses.  I felt completely safe.  Scranton has a low crime rate for a mid-sized city.  As we walked and talked it became readily apparent that Scranton has turned the corner.

There are plentiful and diverse restaurants in the downtown which include things like Thai, Lebanese and Vegan.  A high-end steak house is also under construction downtown.  It will be along the lines of Morton’s or Ruth Chris.  We walked through the construction area that is being framed-out.  The influx of new center city residents, the Commonwealth Medical College, the University of Scranton, two courthouses, a municipal building, Steamtown Mall and new companies setting up headquarters downtown have swelled the demand for goods and services.  There is substantial foot traffic downtown, a key ingredient to redevelopment.

Mayor Doherty has built three new parking garages and rehabilitated one to make sure adequate parking is available for downtown visitors, shoppers and workers.  Lack of parking had been an issue that kept people from coming downtown.

Several companies have relocated or grown their businesses downtown.  An old Woolworth’s store is now home to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney & Fax Serve, which combined employ 200 people.  A high-end salon opened downtown that has grown to 80 employees.

Downtown Scranton has a Hilton Hotel and a Radisson Hotel.  The Radisson is the former Lackawanna Railroad Station.  Talk about an adaptive reuse success story!  We went inside so the mayor could show me around.  It is fantastic!  Both hotels are large and well-kept.  I asked Mayor Doherty what the occupancy rate averaged and he said “85%”.  Scranton hosts many events, conferences and meetings which help keep the hotels full and visitors coming into Scranton.  The mayor made a good point by saying people visit Scranton, leave impressed and spread the word!

The University of Scranton is located downtown and home to 7,000 students.  The university is growing by leaps and bounds.  Currently there are two enormous construction projects taking place that total more than $100 million.  The university is also considering the establishment of a law school which would be another huge economic boost for Scranton.  The University of Scranton is a key partner, along with the city, in transforming the downtown.

Commonwealth Medical College is building a campus downtown.  This is Pennsylvania’s first medical school to be built in 50 years.  The school is now leasing space and is in their second year of operation.  In September, the student body will move into the school’s new permanent downtown site.  The medical school will be responsible for bringing 800 new jobs and 600 students into downtown Scranton.  Six hundred new apartments/condos will be needed in the next five years as a result.  (If the law school becomes a reality; housing demand will sharply increase above the current projection for 600 units, fueling further economic development downtown.)

During our tour, we walked past the building used as the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company headquarters in NBC’s hit mockumentary, The Office.  Scranton was on the list of possible locations being considered.  When it was discovered the bar across the street from the building was named The Office, Greg Daniels decided it was perfect.  The Office has brought a great deal of free publicity to Scranton and has increased tourism.  There are monthly tours offered (March through December) and conventions, for fans of The Office, that bring many people to Scranton.

There is more to come in Part II on Thursday