$2.5 Million Grant To Aid Granite Building Hotel Project In Downtown Pittsburgh

DSC01828Gov. Tom Corbett delivered a $2.5 million state redevelopment assistance capital grant this morning to jump start Downtown’s latest hotel project — 104 rooms, three bars, and a brasserie-style restaurant at Wood Street and Sixth Avenue.

The $38 million independent boutique hotel will be housed in the Granite Building, a Romanesque-style structure built in 1889 and site of the former German National Bank. A building next door that once housed an Arby’s restaurant also will be part of the development.

The project is being developed by Holly Brubach, a former New York Times style editor who bought the Granite Building in 2006 with the intent of turning it into condominiums.

But that project was done in by the recession, prompting Ms. Brubach to change course.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/24/2-5M-grant-to-jump-start-Granite-Building-hotel-project-in-downtown-Pittsburgh/stories/201410240194

Pittsburgh Study Shows City’s Vibrancy Has Returned

DSC01844Editor’s note:  We found this to be true during our visit there this summer. Pittsburgh has drastically changed over the last 10 years and the improvement is palpable.

Pittsburgh has transformed from an economically stagnant, transient city to “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” according to Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today.

A new report from the statistics-based project reflects this trend in increased home ownership, showing more residents are making the city their home.

The report shows the Pittsburgh region has the highest percentage of owner-occupied housing compared to 14 other metropolitan areas with comparable size and demographics, according to U.S. Census figures.

Factors like employment opportunities, education and housing have turned the city into “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” Mr. Heuck said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/18/Study-shows-Pittsburgh-s-vibrancy-has-returned/stories/201410180017

Allentown Could Be Blueprint For New Development

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

ALLENTOWN, PA – Three years ago, run-down tattoo parlors and pawnshops dominated Hamilton Street, the main drag in Pennsylvania’s third-largest city.

Now they’re gone, replaced by high-tech firms, high-end restaurants, and a burst of construction activity. In 22 months, seven buildings of at least 10 stories have gone up along Hamilton Street, and two older buildings were rehabbed. The centerpiece is the PPL Center, a new, gleaming, 10,000-seat arena that this week opens as the new hockey home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers’ minor league affiliate.

Bolstered by special legislation that diverts most of the state taxes on new development within a 130-acre urban zone, supporters say what’s happened in Allentown could be a blueprint for other long-suffering small cities eager to shed their industrial past.

“I think we’re trying to change the Allentown identity,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said over lunch Thursday at the Hamilton, one of five new downtown restaurants. “It was so jerry-rigged over the years there wasn’t much of an identity left.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20141012_Allentown_could_be_blueprint_for_new_development.html#elAVd62cIEa7dzdL.99

Columbus Provides Blueprint For How To Develop Mellon Arena Site

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)

Editor’s note:  We love it when folks use existing successful business models for a blueprint. Why reinvent the wheel when a tweak will due :)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — About $1 billion in development around an arena primarily for hockey transformed a dreary section of downtown Columbus that used to be an industrial area and home to a run-down prison.

“People didn’t come downtown very often, and they certainly didn’t live here. Things are different now. This is a place to be,” said Sherri Lyle, 44, of suburban Powell, who works in Columbus’ 14-year-old Arena District.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are paying attention. The team is preparing to develop a 28-acre site where the Civic Arena stood, across Centre Avenue from the $321 million Consol Energy Center that opened in 2010.

“We’ve sat down and talked with them several times about what they have done relative to development,” said Penguins Chief Operating Officer Travis Williams, noting the team studied similar projects in Cincinnati, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Jose, Washington and Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6881016-74/arena-district-area#ixzz3FOBkt9TK
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McKeesport OKs Taking Vacant Homes Via Eminent Domain

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

McKeesport is expanding its vacant property recovery program to include parcels with structures.

Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the transfer of 10 properties to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of McKeesport through eminent domain. Parcels include empty lots and those with houses on them: 2718 Grandview Ave.; 621 Versailles Ave.; 1106 Ohio St.; 2105 Harrison St.; 2701 Riverview Ave.; 415, 417, 421 and 423 Twenty-Seventh Ave.; and 281 Rockwood St.

“This is another way to tackle the blight problem we have in the city,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “This process has typically been used to acquire vacant land adjacent to other properties. We’re now opening it to properties with structures on them when the purchaser has a plan.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/6882351-74/properties-vacant-ave#ixzz3F0tJF2yD
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Castor Praises Pottstown Carousel Project, Plans

Picture 011POTTSTOWN — Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. recently visited the Carousel at Pottstown and he likes what he sees.

Castor was given a tour of the former Pottstown Metal Weld building across from Memorial Park and had the particulars of the historic wooden carousel laid out for him.

Days later, Castor expressed his enthusiasm for the project to his fellow commissioners.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140911/castor-praises-pottstown-carousel-project-plans

Allentown Residents Benefiting From Hockey Arena Area Job Growth

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

When Oliver Velasquez arrived for a job fair earlier this summer at the new Allentown hockey arena, he was shocked by the number of attendees.

“I didn’t expect to see that many people; there must have been thousands,” the 26-year-old Allentown resident said. “The line actually wrapped around the block a couple of times.”

Velasquez waited in that line, and it paid off for him. He is now the PPL Center’s new suites and catering manager, providing banquets for catered events and overseeing food in the arena’s private suites.

He is one of more than 300 city residents to find employment as part of an effort by community activists and city officials to ensure people living in Allentown get a fair shot at the jobs being created by downtown redevelopment.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentown_residents_benefittin.html

Town By Town: In Pottstown, Plenty Of Sellers, Few Buyers

Pottstown Borough Hall

Pottstown Borough Hall

Editor’s note:  It’s pretty freakin’ sad when the Philadelphia Inquirer has to write up something like this about Pottstown.  Everybody knows why this situation exists, except for the do nothing Borough Council who are off in Lala Land taking a group cruise down the river Denial! What an embarrassing write up and very damning because of the enormous readership of this MAJOR MARKET publication!!!!!  Now that a big city newspaper has pointed out the same issues we bloggers have been harping on for years, maybe you all will be shamed into doing something. 

Trends in local housing supply and demand aren’t working in Pottstown’s favor right now. In a word, the market is troubled.

Andrew Himes, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Collegeville, said the borough “is one of the few places that hasn’t made any kind of a comeback.”

Though just about every market in the eight-county Philadelphia region has a shortage of supply, Pottstown’s problem is it has 300 houses for sale and very little demand, Himes says.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/town-by-town/20140831_Town_By_Town_.html#0CJjWTr05jzmHLlJ.99

York’s Northeast Neighborhood Residents Wonder What Impact Think Loud Will Have On Their Community

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

On a wooden table in Gregg Hardy’s kitchen are a handful of cherry tomatoes.

They come from the garden behind his East Walnut Street home that his wife tends, caring for fish in a small pond and cultivating an orange tree, where a single unripe fruit hung one day in August.

While she will spend a day coaxing flowers to grow, Hardy focuses his own labor on the interior — putting in bathrooms, widening door frames and shaping cabinets.

He bought his home for $15,000 in 2003, property records show. He said he put $20 down on it, and spent several years driving down from New York on weekends to fix it up. He is now entrenched in a neighborhood he believes has remade itself into an area families can call home.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_26386670/yorks-northeast-neighborhood-residents-wonder-what-impact-think

Seizing The Moment: Ajay Raju Thinks Philly’s On The Verge Of Greatness

English: no original description

English: no original description (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BORN IN INDIA – made in America, Ajay Raju likes to say.

He might not be a household name in Philadelphia, but drop it around any of the power brokers who make this city churn like a giant waterwheel and you’ve just made a friend.

He’s not in the Kennedy class yet, but Raju’s name is – and has been – getting a lot of traction.

He serves on more than a dozen nonprofit boards, gives his money away unabashedly to philanthropic causes and is constantly mulling the next big idea, such as a proposed online, citizen-based journalism project with former Daily News editor Larry Platt.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20140819_Seizing_the_moment__Ajay_Raju_thinks_Philly_s_on_the_verge_of_greatness.html#TrmQ1scDqCWpYTQc.99

Facade Program Spruces Up Wilkes-Barre’s Main Arteries

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA  — Angela Marsicano and her daughter, Gina, know first-hand the benefits of the city’s Gateway Facade Improvement Program.

The two women live next door to each other and they took advantage of the program to improve the appearance of their Blackman Street homes. Angela lives at 246 Blackman St. and Gina is at 250 Blackman.

Gina had new stonework, front window, front door, porch rail, porch roof installed and aluminum siding painted.

Her mother had new windows installed, shutters, aconcrete foundation and porch steps put in.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/50139841/Facade-program-spruces-up-W-Bs-main-arteries#.U_I5tPRDsxI

Results Released On Wilkes-Barre Downtown Survey

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — Thursday seemed like the best possible day to release a report on a downtown survey.
 
Public Square was filled with people attending the weekly farmers’ market and Mother Nature cooperated by offering a spectacular day of sunshine.
 
Patty Kopec and her daughter, Frankie, were enjoying some of the food and sunshine. Even with no entertainment on the band shell stage, the Kopecs raved about the city and the downtown and said they wished more events were planned for Public Square.
 
“It needs this kind of stuff,” Patty Kopec said. “It needs more events that appeal to families.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/50098707/Results-released-on-downtown-survey%23.U-P3K8JH2i4#.U-T5m_RDsxI

As Developer Buys Up York Neighborhood, Some Residents Refuse To Sell

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

The CEO of several companies buying dozens of homes in a York City neighborhood said he will not use eminent domain to acquire more properties, though he believes he “absolutely” could.

Bill Hynes, known locally for his business relationship with members of the rock band Live and their Think Loud Development projects, said the goal is to own all of the properties on the northern side of East Chestnut Street.

Nearby, Hynes and his business partners are in the midst of a $16.8 million project to renovate a former factory at 210 York St. After that project is done, work will begin on the construction of a 40,000-square-foot data center — at an anticipated cost of $30 million — for United Fiber and Data, a fiber optic company with plans to build an information-transmission line between New York and northern Virginia.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/ci_26256192/developer-buys-up-york-neighborhood-some-residents-refuse

Allentown Waterfront Redevelopment Starts With Brownfield Demolition

English: City of Allentown from east side

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

An estimated decade-long, $300 million brownfield redevelopment is about to begin taking shape along the Lehigh River in Allentown.

Dignitaries and the developers today celebrated the start of demolition at the former Lehigh Structural Steel Co. to make way for The Waterfront project.

The Waterfront Development Co. — a partnership among Jaindl Properties, Dunn Twiggar and Michael Dunn Co. — anticipates the entire 1 million square feet of commercial, residential and industrial space along the west side of the river will take eight to 10 years to complete.

The first phase of construction includes development at the Furnace Street site south of the Tilghman Street bridge.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/07/allentown_waterfront_redevelop.html

Downtown Residents, Developers Enjoy Romance With Rooftops

Downtown Pittsburgh as seen from PNC Park across the Allegheny River

Downtown Pittsburgh as seen from PNC Park across the Allegheny River

From atop the Lando Building at Penn Avenue and Ninth Street, Todd Palacic can see PNC Park, kayaks on the Allegheny River, construction work on The Tower at PNC Plaza and glimpses of the shimmering glass of PPG Place.

Palacic, who is developing the seven-story structure into 27 apartments and building a deck on its roof, foresees tenants throwing parties, watching fireworks and lounging amid Pittsburgh’s skyline.

“People who live Downtown want to show off, and a deck allows them to show off,” Palacic, a developer at Penn Avenue Renaissance, said as he leaned over the deck railing to look out over the river. “A lot of first kisses will happen up here on this deck. I guarantee it.”

As more people move Downtown — the population jumped 10.5 percent in the past three years, reaching more than 7,500, according to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership — residents are claiming rooftops as social spaces to dine, drink, relax and take in sights. Restaurants have opened rooftop bars and seating areas. Nearly 10 apartment complexes boast roof patios and lounges, and new developments almost all have rooftop plans.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/editorspicks/6451106-74/downtown-pittsburgh-tower#ixzz37vYrS6MJ
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‘Celebrate Downtown’ Shines Light On Pittsburgh Revitalization

Downtown Pittsburgh as seen from PNC Park across the Allegheny River

Downtown Pittsburgh as seen from PNC Park across the Allegheny River

Downtown should be an exciting place to go or live. It remains an important indicator of any city’s health.

For the past 20 years, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has worked to revitalize Downtown and will call attention to its progress with eight days of activities called “Celebrate Downtown” from July 14 to 21.

New this year to the annual Celebrate Downtown attractions are Dining Around, sampling food and drink at some of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants; All Access Pittsburgh, a series of tours; and Open Streets, which will create space for people to enjoy part of Downtown free of cars, buses and trucks.

The creation of the Cultural District and revitalization of Market Square are only part of the changes Downtown. More than 12,000 people live Downtown now, with more than 2,000 new apartments coming.

Read more: http://triblive.com/aande/moreaande/6418404-74/downtown-july-market#ixzz37GwwnvK9
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Survey Of Washington, Greene Elected Officials Shows Positive Views Of Gas Industry

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

A survey of elected leaders in Washington and Greene counties found generally positive experiences with the gas exploration industry that has changed the face of their communities.

“They’re starting to see a lot of vitality. There’s physical activity in the communities and new wealth among some property owners. New employees. That’s all very positive,” said Diana Stares, the director of the Center of Energy Policy and Management at Washington & Jefferson College, who oversaw the survey. “Now they’re anxious to draw from that development some long-term results. And some don’t know how to go about that.”

Interactions between drilling companies and local officials are improving as both sides get to know each other, and as money and jobs flow into the region, several people said.

“It was a growing experience, I think, by some of these companies coming in here,” said Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi, a Democrat. “But they saw that if you treat people fairly, they’ll respond in a positive way.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6383333-74/industry-officials-percent#ixzz36tbYQPSg
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