Some 200 Jenkintown residents, many of them elderly, are losing their apartments due to a dispute between local officials and the property owner.
“We’re the pawns in this,” said Marshall Jones, 93. “[The owner] is saying, ‘If you won’t do it our way, we’ll just close it down.’ “
Jones has lived in the Colonade high-rise apartments on Old York Road, in the Jenkintown section of Abington Township, for 16 years. He and other residents have had a string of complaints about leaks, electrical outages, broken elevators, cold water, broken heaters, and other issues, many of which ended up in the courts.
In 2012, the building was cited for more than 200 code violations, and the township’s solicitor was “looking into criminal charges,” according to an Inquirer report.
POTTSTOWN — As recently as Aug. 14, Pottstown School Board members were assured by district administrators and construction consultants that renovation and expansion of Rupert Elementary School was on schedule for the opening of school on Sept. 2.
But just four days later, the administration announced that the school would not be ready on timeand students and staff would begin school in the former Edgewood Elementary School at 920 Morris St.
Three days after that announcement, frustrated school board members levied criticism at both the planning and execution of the project.
“To say I am disappointed in the efforts of the contractor is an understatement,” board member Ron Williams said.
POTTSTOWN, PA — Two proposals for becoming the next fixed base operator of the Pottstown Municipal Airport came in last week and borough council will likely approve the one from the company that already operates out of a nearby airport in Limerick.
Both Fare Share Ltd. of Limerick and Weston Inc. of Barto submitted proposals to succeed TNT Air Inc. as the Pottstown airport’s operator, council learned Wednesday at its committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Fare Share, which runs a pilot school and a charter company at Heritage Field in Limerick, received the borough staff’s recommendation to take over duties at the Pottstown Municipal Airport.
“They put together a pretty strong proposal,” Assistant Borough Manager Erica Weekley told council. “We ranked them first.”
WILKES-BARRE, PA — King’s College has submitted a proposal to purchase the former four-story Springbrook Water Co. property in Wilkes-Barre from Luzerne County.
The county sought proposals from prospective buyers as part of an initiative to shed unused properties and generate revenue for the cash-strapped county government.
Three entities submitted purchase proposals by last week’s deadline, said county Purchasing Director Mark Zulkoski. County officials say copies of all proposals will be publicly released before county council votes on options.
John Loyack, King’s College vice president for business affairs, confirmed the institution submitted a proposal but said he will leave it up to the county to release of the offered dollar amount.
An investor from Florida who now owns seven of the 11 office buildings at Parkway Center in Green Tree says he wants to bring new life to the “tired buildings” there and work with other owners to upgrade the entire complex.
“We plan to begin upgrades and improvements in July,” said Robbie Oppenheim, Pittsburgh-born president of Market Street Real Estate Partners, who on Wednesday acquired the buildings with partner JDI Realty of Chicago from PWC Pitt LLC, headed by Lee Baierl.
Oppenheim declined to reveal the purchase price for the seven buildings — numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10. The buildings were listed for $49 million.
POTTSTOWN, PA — The changes underway at the Pottstown Area Seniors’ Center now also include a change in leadership.
After 19 years with the center, Executive Director Brad Fuller is joining the legions of the retired and is currently training his replacement — Brian Parkes of Gilbertsville.
Parkes, 43, was most recently self-employed for nine years with Krisp Communications, a firm which worked exclusively with non-profit organizations and specializing in communications, grant-writing and fundraising.
Among his clients were six senior centers in Chester County and one in Montgomery County.
Hays School had been empty for 30 years when Bob Dagostino drove by one morning and saw the “For Sale” sign. He copied the number and called for a tour. At the time, his electronics business Downtown was outgrowing its third location.
“At our other place, [employees] sat an arm’s length apart,” said Chuck Roberts, vice president of Dagostino Electronic Services. “Bob brought me in look at the school and I said, ‘Why don’t we get a renovated space?’ and he said, ‘No, no, this is our headquarters.’ He had a vision.”
It often takes vision to remake a century-old school. Pittsburgh has scores of them, some in private hands, some long vacant, several converted into apartments and 19 still to be sold. Pittsburgh Public Schools has contracted with Fourth River Development to sell them.
The former Schenley High School in North Oakland sold last year for $5.2 million and is slated for luxury housing. McCleary School in Upper Lawrenceville sold last year for $410,000 to a residential developer. Morningside School has been approved for sale to the Urban Redevelopment Authority for $275,000, also for housing; negotiations are underway “as we speak,” said Patrick Morosetti, sales and leasing manager for Fourth River Development.
Norristown, PA — Montgomery County officials have released Mid-Atlantic Health Care’s response to the Request for Proposal to purchase and take over the Parkhouse geriatric facility in Upper Providence Township.
The response was released after The Times Herald submitted a Right To Know request with the county asking for the document.
According to the response to the RFP, which is dated July 12, 2013, Mid-Atlantic Health Care did have intentions of developing part of the land involved in the sale.
“MAHC proposes to purchase all land, facilities, and operations on the 288 acre campus for a total of $35,000,000. While we have not finalized our plans for the additional land, we have had preliminary discussions with the Einstein Health System to participate in this project. Further, we are also speaking with Ganas Development (which is led by Dr. Elliot Menkowitz), and The Sukonik Building Companies to develop a comprehensive development strategy,” the response states.
A sky-high crane dangles over a corner of Franklin Mills Mall these days, but it is more than a towering construction tool: It is a symbol of how necessity is the mother of reinvention at this once-legendary shopping mall.
A Walmart Supercenter is taking shape at the once-pioneering complex, which opened nearly 25 years ago with theme-park anticipation as among the first outlet malls, and the outright largest, ever built. The splashy development, unveiled in 1989, was a gamble befitting its locale, a onetime Northeast Philadelphia racetrack. And early on, its unmatched offerings paid off with packed corridors.
The mall flaunted a 1.2-mile-long, zigzag-shaped concourse, and more than 200 stores hawking discount designer goods, at a time when such wares were available only at out-of-the-way old-factory outlets. Its 1.7 million square feet of bargain buys, right off I-95, was a tourist draw and local sensation.
But the megamall’s early monopoly on outlet shopping has come to an end, forcing Franklin Mills to alter its once-irresistible identity. The Walmart is one of many tenants that now make the monolith, well, a bit more ordinary. And this is by design.
The new year will bring a new West Manchester Mall, and developers said work could begin before winter ends.
“We’re trying to get started as early as we can. March is not an unreasonable target,” said Tony Ruggeri, co-founder of Dallas-based M&R Investors, which owns the mall.
The 32-year-old shopping hub at 1800 Loucks Road is set for a $47 million redevelopment that will change it from an enclosed mall to an outdoor plaza similar to Hunt Valley Towne Center in Maryland.
The York County commissioners and the West York school board recently approved a tax incentive financing (TIF) plan that will allow the mall to be revamped while receiving a limited tax break on the improved property.
Josh Adamek and Scott Hastings believe their work is a form of neighborhood-building.
“A lot of these properties are distressed, so they aren’t worth anything,” Adamek said of the houses they are renewing. “With some work, they are homes and they help the tax base.”
Adamek is president and Hastings is vice president of Synergy Capital in the Perrysville section of Ross. The 3-year-old real estate development and investment firm is renovating homes in what Adamek calls “trendy neighborhoods” such as Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and the South Side.
“They are doing quality work,” said Aspinwall architect Susan Tusick, who has worked with the pair on several projects. “They are trying to make these city neighborhoods viable again.”
Architect Bruce Evans’ charge in designing a City Hall addition was to create space that would help Lancaster city employees work more efficiently and be better able to serve the public.
From his own experience, Evans knew the inefficiency and frustration of taking plans to City Hall for review by city building officials, then having to take them to fire inspectors in Southern Market Center, four blocks away. Sometimes, he then would have to return to City Hall.
When the 18,000-square-foot addition to City Hall is complete, the city’s housing, building and fire code inspectors will work together in the same office. Plans can be reviewed simultaneously in shared meeting spaces.
Similarly, on the floor above, planners from the city Economic Development & Neighborhood Revitalization departments will be grouped with Public Works staffers, who oversee the impact of those plans on the city’s public spaces.
Standing amid workers installing tile and trim and painting the new lobby, real estate developer John Meeder declared: “The experience starts here.”
The experience is one of a bright, open lobby; clean, well appointed rooms; and a well-managed facility.
It will be the experience of The Hotel Lancaster, promised Meeder.
“The Brunswick is history. It is no longer the name of this hotel,” he said. “Sorry historians, but there is too much baggage.”
The street-level lobby had long been recommended by urban planners, but by moving it to the East Chestnut Street side of the building, Meeder and his partners also are getting a new address.
POTTSTOWN, PA — With the remaining construction now underway at three elementary schools, the Pottstown School Board is expected to vote at Monday night’s meeting to borrow another $10 million to pay for the project.
The board is expected to authorize the preparation of the bond documents at Monday’s meeting and the auction will occur on Oct. 21, said board member Dennis Wausnock, chairman of the school board’s finance committee.
Work on Franklin, Lincoln and Rupert elementary schools began in May and continues with students back in Lincoln and Franklin and the population of Rupert being taught in the vacant Edgewood Elementary building, which was officially closed in June.
Barth Elementary School, which was officially re-dedicated in a ceremony Saturday, was the first school to be renovated although, unlike the other three, it was not expanded.
SOUTH COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, PA — The Owen J. Roberts School Board has unanimously set Sept. 26 as the date for the public hearing on its $19 million renovation and expansion plan for East Vincent Elementary School.
Business Administrator Jaclin Krumrine said the hearing, which is required by law and is the primary opportunity for the public to comment on the first phase of the proposal, will be held at 7 p.m. the school itself, which is located at 340 Ridge Road.
Following the hearing, the district hopes to put the full project out for bid in “late November, early December,” she said.
The renovations at East Vincent are part of a three phase project that will take several years and cost taxpayers about $38 million.
POTTSTOWN — You can add new data system wiring to the things not included in the $14 million price tag for renovation and expansion of three elementary schools in the borough.
Thursday night, school board Vice President Robert Hartman Jr., who is also the chairman of the board’s facilities committee, reported that his committee is recommending the additional spending of as much as $375,000 “for data wiring devices installation at Franklin, Lincoln and Rupert elementary schools” according to the agenda of Thursday’s meeting.
There was no discussion among the full board, or questions asked by any of the board members, so it was not immediately clear why this was not included in the budget for the broader expansion/renovation project.
Work began this summer on the renovations and expansion at the three schools, while work is now being completed at Barth Elementary School, where work began a year earlier.
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.
The bolt of lightning that lit up Stokesay Castle just before Christmas in 1991 was invisible to everyone except the first-time visitor who experienced it.
It was a brilliant, internal flash of recognition that took place in the mind of Jack D. Gulati.
A veteran buyer and seller of businesses who had immigrated to the U.S. from India as a teenager, Gulati had learned to profit from such moments. He had experienced many. Like all the other times, as he absorbed the hulking medieval-style grandeur of Stokesay, he saw two simple things.
Value and possibility.
The crew of five men put one piece of pipe after another into fittings on other pipes, building a framework of heavy duty steel on a parapet 19 stories above ground level.
They have been working on it since Monday. By the end of next week, steel I-beams will be attached securely to the framework, known as swing-stage scaffolding. The I-beams will jut horizontally from the very top of the Berks County Courthouse.
Soon afterward workers will begin descending in baskets attached to the I-beams to give the building a $6.9 million face-lift.
The courthouse was completed in 1932. Parts of the exterior were refurbished in the 1970s and in 1992. But this is believed to be the first total overhaul of the building’s skin.