Business, Workers Flee Electric City Taxes

picture-0571A decade ago when real estate up-and-comer Charles Hibble looked for a headquarters for his business, Scranton was a natural choice.

He invested $1.2 million converting an aging building on Penn Avenue into modern offices and apartments. Mr. Hibble accepted real estate tax and parking cost increases and the mercantile tax as costs of doing business. When city leaders began talking about a commuter tax in 2012, the owner of Weichert Realty Hibble & Associates reached his breaking point and moved out.

“I was getting pressure from my employees, who could work from anywhere — their homes or cars,” he said. “They didn’t want to pay another tax.”

Mr. Hibble’s move prefaced an employer exodus from the city. After being kicked around and eventually shot down in court, the commuter tax came back in the proposal of consultant Henry Amoroso, who cited a state law that allows municipalities to impose a commuter tax to bolster distressed pension funds. Scranton City Council swiftly approved the local income tax on commuters, which would cost employees earning $50,000 as much as $375 a year. Combined with a proposed increase in the emergency service tax – yet another withdrawal from the wages of commuters — the cost of having a job in the city has mounted.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/business-workers-flee-electric-city-taxes-1.1733479

Boscov: Mall Price At Sheriff’s Sale Probably Too High

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Department store owner Al Boscov is unlikely to bid when the Mall at Steamtown goes on the block at a sheriff’s sale next week, saying he anticipates the asking price will be too high.

The businessman has been unable to strike a deal with LNR Partners, the real estate company representing the mortgage holder, to acquire the mall but hopes to renew negotiations if the lender finds no takers for the property at the sale Tuesday, he and his lawyer said.

“At that point, it would be just as if we were buying a property in a private sales transaction,” said attorney Scott M. Esterbrook. “The (sheriff’s) sale is not the be-all, end-all. It’s one step in the process, and where we’re at today is we just haven’t reached an agreement yet.”

The mall entered foreclosure March 7 after owner Steamtown Mall Partners defaulted on a principal balance payment of $37.1 million due last July on its 2003 mortgage, setting up the sheriff’s sale. Mr. Boscov is a principal in Steamtown Mall Partners.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/boscov-mall-price-at-sheriff-s-sale-probably-too-high-1.1718214

Montco’s Lynnewood Hall Up For Sale

Lynnewood Hall (Peter A. B. Widener mansion), ...

Lynnewood Hall (Peter A. B. Widener mansion), Elkins Park, PA (1897–1900). Photo: May 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time and taxes have finally forced the owner of Lynnewood Hall, a grand Horace Trumbauer estate in Elkins Park, to put the property up for sale.

The listing appeared Monday on the real estate website Zillow.com for $20 million.

The sales pitch is short and sweet: “A true neoclassical revival masterpiece. … Main house 110 rooms. 70,000 sq. ft. of living space & 33.85 gated acres.”

The words, accompanied by an exterior photo, belie both the grandeur and the bittersweet history of one of Philadelphia’s largest intact Gilded Age mansions.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/20140710_Montco_s_Lynnewood_Hall_up_for_sale.html#So0Ei7q5wjUc2PUl.99

Sanatoga K-Mart Store Signs Announce Its Closing

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

SANATOGA PA – The K-Mart discount department store at 2200 E. High St., which occupies the largest retail building in Sanatoga village and has operated there continuously for decades, will close its doors Aug. 31 (2014), a store management employee confirmed Saturday (June 21).

Read more: http://sanatogapost.com/2014/06/22/sanatoga-k-mart-store-signs-announce-closing/

Rental Management Company Owner Charged With Theft

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA – A man who spent thousands of dollars renovating a High Street building to house a business now faces 41 counts of theft after allegedly withholding money from his clients to keep that business afloat.

Brian Warren Patrick, 35, of Delaware, owes 10 clients more than $30,500 in security deposits and rental income after he closed his business Affinity Property Management & Rental LLC in May of last year.

Patrick, in partnership with his wife Lori, managed rental properties in the region from their High Street office.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140601/rental-management-company-owner-charged-with-theft

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Home Values In Philadelphia Region Tumble, Analysis Shows

Full recovery continued to elude the Philadelphia region’s residential real estate market in the first quarter of this year, as the value of a typical home fell 4.9 percent from the last three months of 2013.

University of Pennsylvania economist Kevin Gillen, who analyzed data from 11 area counties for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, said Tuesday that with the latest decline, average house prices in the region are “barely above the post-bubble bottom they hit two years ago.”

While sales of 11,000 houses regionally was 10 percent above the same quarter of 2013, the numbers are 41 percent below what Gillen considers the “normal historic average.”

Suburban price declines were greater than the city’s during the quarter – 5.3 percent versus 4 percent, Gillen said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/20140528_Home_values_in_region_tumble__analysis_shows.html#xlQrIJ1HYPRfOJyx.99

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Bloomfield, Friendship Neighborhoods See Real Estate Price Upsurge

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)

It didn’t matter to Kate Hansen that the temperature had dropped below zero on the January day when she went house hunting in Bloomfield. It didn’t matter that so much snow and ice covered the region she couldn’t even tell if the property had grass in the backyard or a decent roof.

Location was everything for Ms. Hansen, 32, a project manager for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s Office of Public Art.

She wanted more than anything to own a home in the Bloomfield neighborhood. At the rate house prices in that area were rising, she didn’t feel she had the luxury of waiting until spring. She made an offer that day.

“I was a little nervous not being able to see it,” she said, adding that the house also was the first she looked at. “I knew the street, though. My best friend lives across the street from the place I bought. I knew it was a good location just from him living there.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/05/25/Bloomfield-Friendship-neighborhoods-see-real-estate-price-upsurge/stories/201405250030#ixzz32mNViblX

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Pottstown School District Adopts Proposed $60M Budget That Raises Taxes 2.9 Percent

POTTSTOWN — With a 7-2 vote at its May 15 meeting, the Pottstown School Board adopted a $59.9 million proposed budget that would raise taxes by 2.9 percent if it is adopted unchanged as a final budget in June.

Board members Ron Williams and Thomas Hylton cast the only two votes against the proposed budget, which increases spending 5.6 percent and would increase the annual tax bill by $81.91 for the owner of a property assessed at $73,670 — the borough’s median assessment.

Board member Amy Francis said, “This is a very difficult decision for me because, like every other taxpayer, I am at the end of my rope, but I also feel we have a responsibility to get the job done that we started with the renovations at the elementary schools. We can’t do one without the other.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140521/pottstown-adopts-proposed-60m-budget-that-raises-taxes-29

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New Economic Study Points To Rapid Growth In Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to economic and residential growth, the Golden Triangle has had the golden touch in recent years, with almost $800 million in development under construction and about twice that much planned.

A study released on Thursday predicts that trend will continue with explosive development of apartments, hotels and retail and high-end office space in Pittsburgh’s Greater Downtown, including the Triangle, North Shore, South Shore, Uptown, the Bluff and near Strip District as far northeast as 31st Street.

“We’re only experiencing the beginning of Downtown’s transformation,” said Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership.

The partnership produced the study, which looked at economic indicators in several key areas to evaluate Downtown’s vitality. It gave the results in a presentation at Union Trust Building — itself a symbol of Downtown’s revitalization.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6115943-74/downtown-percent-partnership#ixzz31tEGYvVi
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New Partnership Between Revs, York City Gives Employees Incentive To Live Downtown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

In Eric Menzer’s 27 years of living in York City, he said there’s never been a better time to have a downtown business.

As the York Revolution’s president and general manager, Menzer said he and the 7-year-old baseball team aren’t going anywhere.

And he wants the same for his employees.

That’s why the team partnered with the city to offer its employees incentives for buying homes downtown.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25775906/new-partnership-between-revs-york-city-gives-employees

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Urban Strategist To York County Community Foundation: Stakes High For City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

Blame the millennials.

Those gadget-wielding young people born in the 1980s and 1990s are the reason America’s real-estate market seems, well, a bit confused.

After decades of suburban sprawl designed to accommodate the nation’s love affair with its cars, millennials and “the creative class” want something else — a walkable place to live, said Christopher Leinberger, an urban strategist and researcher who visited York this week.

That demand for urban life — where people can live, work and play within a relatively small geographic area — is both driving and slowing the economic recovery these days, Leinberger said.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/news/ci_25776014/design-future

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Land Bank Ordinance Legislation To Boost Lot Cleanups 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)

Some of Pittsburgh’s vacant lots become dumping grounds for used tires. Others get filled with construction debris. Some are overwhelmed with knotweed, a thick and invasive species that has been a plague since Bill Harlak started cleaning lots 34 years ago.

Harlak is executive director of City Source Associates, the city’s property maintenance contractor. He attempts to keep tidy 7,200 vacant city-owned lots, plus 1,400 the Urban Redevelopment Authority owns. His dozen employees clean perhaps 2,000 lots a year, he said.

“There’s always more land,” he said.

Surplus city-owned property, whether a patch of grass or an abandoned home, drains about $5.5 million a year from the budget, according to the city planning department. The estimate includes costs to the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Building Inspection and police. A newly established land bank could reduce the cost — if it can succeed in selling abandoned properties.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5946208-74/lots-vacant-lot#ixzz30C8n1ZVa
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Philadelphia’s Luxury Rental Market Is Booming

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

The city’s for-sale housing market is experiencing fits and starts on a seemingly unending road to recovery. The luxury rental market, on the other hand, remains hot.

Yet another illustration of that comes Wednesday with the official opening of Dranoff Properties’ Southstar Lofts, an 85-unit, mid-rise rental project at Broad and South Streets that is heavier on one-bedrooms than the company’s fully leased 777 South Broad a few blocks away.

Developer Carl Dranoff considers the buildings complementary, and tenants at Southstar will get to use the roof deck at 777 and will share other amenities.

Rents will range from $1,595 to $3,395 a month, he said. About 63 percent of those leasing are singles in their 20s, and 35 percent list their occupation as medicine. Most earn $50,000 to $150,000, and 48 percent are moving from within six blocks.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140427_Phila__luxury_rental_market_is_booming.html#jYw0YTP7lsBDLXES.99

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Latest Housing Stats: One York Area Posted 60 Percent Jump In Median Sale Price

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

If you sold a house in York during the first three months of the year, chances are good that you made a profit from the deal.

Between Jan. 1 and March 31, the median sale price of a home in the York City School District jumped 60 percent while the number of homes sold fell 10 percent, according to data released Thursday by the Realtors Association of York & Adams Counties.

Overall, during the first quarter, the median sale price for a home sold in York County climbed 4 percent from $135,000 in 2013 to $139,997 this year.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_25539459/one-area-posted-60-percent-jump-median-sale

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MCCC Fast Track PA Real Estate Salesperson Program Offered Fully Online

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

Blue Bell/Pottstown, PA— Building on the success of its Fast Track Real Estate pilot program launched in January, Montgomery County Community College will incorporate even more flexibility when it offers Real Estate 101 and 102 again in May.

“We’re leveraging many of the College’s technology resources to maximize students’ time,” said Ayisha Sereni, administrative director of MCCC’s BEI division and a licensed Pennsylvania real estate broker.

According to Sereni, the College wants to help professionals get their start in real estate sales – a high priority occupation that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is projected to grow by 12 percent through 2020.

To encourage participation, the May-start classes will be taught fully online, which differs from the hybrid format used in the pilot. Now, virtual meetings will take the place of face-to-face instruction in a classroom setting.

The fast track program can be completed in less than one month. Students who successfully complete the 30-hour Real Estate Fundamentals (RES 101) and Real Estate Practice (RES 102) courses are eligible to sit for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson Exam. Individuals who acquire their Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson License may seek employment as commissioned or salaried residential or commercial real estate agents, property managers, leasing agents or real estate assistants. Both courses must be completed prior to taking the exam.

Real Estate Fundamentals runs from May 8-20, and Real Estate Practice runs from May 27-June 5.

To learn more about MCCC’s Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson Pre-licensing Fast Track Program, email Ayisha Sereni at asereni@mc3.edu or call 215-641-6374.

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Court Documents: Sherman Hills Sale Price Tops $16M

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

The current owners of the troubled Sherman Hills Apartments in Wilkes-Barre will receive more than $16 million should a proposed sale be finalized this month, according to court documents filed Tuesday in Luzerne County Court.

Family members of a murder victim are trying to block the sale or have the sale proceeds placed in escrow, claiming the sale of the low-income housing project would make the complex “judgement proof.”

On Tuesday, lawyers for Sherman Hills filed their response, saying the sale should be allowed to proceed.  The sales agreement was attached to the response and revealed Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Park Management, the complex’s owner, will be paid $16.2 million from the sale.

Survivors of murder victim Shantique Goodson, 27, fatally shot at the complex on Nov. 11, 2013, are seeking an injunction to block the sale, or place the sale proceeds in escrow, until the lawsuit plays out. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday morning in Luzerne County Court.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/court-documents-sherman-hills-sale-price-tops-16m-1.1664522

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Bethlehem Revitalization Authority Readying For Applicants

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

The Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority is accelerating efforts to hire consultants so it can start accepting development applications in the summer.

The authority is tasked with implementing Bethlehem’s City Revitalization and Improvement Zone, which is expected to create $587 million worth of development. Bethlehem received the state economic development designation late last year.

Similar to Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone, the zone allows state and local nonproperty taxes from new development in the zone to help finance construction within it.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/03/bethlehem_revitalization_autho.html

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Miller’s Smorgasbord, Plain & Fancy And AmishView Offered For Sale

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Three major tourism businesses and their properties in eastern Lancaster County are for sale, it was announced Wednesday.

The businesses are Miller’s Smorgasbord, Plain & Fancy Farm and the AmishView Inn & Suites.

They employ a combined 280 people and post annual revenues exceeding $12 million.

“There will be a transition, but it doesn’t have to happen tomorrow,” said Al Duncan of Thomas E. Strauss Inc., which owns the businesses.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/miller-s-smorgasbord-plain-fancy-and-amishview-offered-for-sale/article_d0c5d524-a4b8-11e3-bfa2-0017a43b2370.html

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Bridgeport Addresses Issue Of ‘Amateur Landlords’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

BRIDGEPORT, PA — Over the past year, many residents and landlords have complained at borough council meetings about overcrowding of and conditions at rental properties.

In response to these complaints, borough council has provided funds in the 2014 budget for a program to help resolve the issue of amateur landlords.

At its Feb. 11 meeting, council discussed hiring a third-party inspector to handle rental properties in the borough.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140214/bridgeport-addresses-issue-of-amateur-landlords

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Crafton Man Rehabs Worst-Looking House On Street

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

The parade of people who rented apartments in an old Crafton house aggravated Chuck Gigliotti, a longtime neighbor who lives across the street. After it became Section 8 housing in 2003, shingles fell off the roof regularly and loose bricks threatened to avalanche from a tall chimney. In 2006, Mr. Gigliotti watched from his home as two dozen police officers and a SWAT team broke down the door and arrested one man.

Finally, in March 2012, he bought the house at 24 Mildred St. for $18,900 and tackled his ninth property. His wife, Lindy, was not thrilled, but Mr. Gigliotti, 56, was ready for another challenge — rehabbing the worst-looking house on the street. He formed a company called Crafton Redux and hired three Triangle Tech graduates to restore the 1904 house that is a near mirror image of his own. Nearly two years later, they’re finished. The four-bedroom, 21/2-bath house is for sale for $220,000.

Mr. Gigliotti has a long history with old houses. At age 19, he joined the local carpenters union. Since 1988, he has been buying houses to remodel and resell. For six years, he was a glazier at Rex Glass in Robinson; for another six he was a self-employed remodeling contractor. Since 2010, he has taught carpentry at Triangle Tech.

Although he has done his share of working on roofs, he had no interest in going up on the high-pitched roof to remove the chimney. So, he cut a 16-inch hole in the wall of a third-floor bedroom and put a ladder through it. Gradually, he and his crew removed bricks, ending up with enough to build a 21/2-foot-wide walkway that parallels the property’s upper side.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/homes/2014/02/01/From-eyesore-to-model-home-Crafton-man-rehabs-worst-looking-house-on-street/stories/201402010031#ixzz2s5JQBTfp

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