Mall At Steamtown Auction Postponed To Allow Bidders More Time

An auction for the foreclosed and still struggling Mall at Steamtown was postponed three weeks to give potential bidders more time to prepare bids, an agent involved in the upcoming online auction said.

The failure of retired department store chain owner Al Boscov’s past partnership to pay off the loan that led to the foreclosure does not disqualify him from bidding or being part of a bid, said Lynn DeMarco, contact agent for the Shopping Center Group LLC of New York City, which is facilitating the auction along with auction.com.

“This is an open auction, so anybody can bid,” Ms. DeMarco said Tuesday.

The auction, originally scheduled for Monday through today, was postponed to June 22 to 24. Bidding requires proof that bidders are viable and can come up with the money to fulfill their bids. Bidders will submit bids through the auction.com website in a fashion similar to an eBay auction. Bidders can see the highest bid as the auction unfolds. When the deadline for bids passes, the high bidder gets the mall, assuming the bidder has the money, Ms. DeMarco said.

Read more:

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/mall-at-steamtown-auction-postponed-to-allow-bidders-more-time-1.1892390

On Ridge Avenue Progress Would Go By The Initials PHA

Editor’s note:  This could be a game changer if it can be pulled off.  Hoping it is a success.

From Bruce Webb’s chair, pulled to the entryway of his record and cassette store on Ridge Avenue, the decay is inescapable. Across the street, a faded sign for Irv’s Meat Market & Delicatessen boasts, “Home of the Giant Hoagie.” Next door, Ahn’s Fresh Fish & Produce is for sale.

Both stores are vacant, and have been for years.

One recent day, Webb saw two younger men photographing the crumbled Irv’s storefront. Speculators, Webb dubbed them.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Webb, 81, said. “Change is coming.”

The source of that proposed change to a once-vibrant business corridor that stretched from Girard College to Cecil B. Moore Avenue is an unlikely one: the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150603_On_Ridge_Avenue_progress_would_go_by_the_initials_PHA.html#GVbsus8XvyomgfYd.99

Upper Merion Area School Board Hires New Superintendent, Passes Budget

UPPER MERION TOWNSHIP, PA – Starting next school year the Upper Merion Area School District will not only be operating under new leadership, but also under a $89,641,840 million budget with a 3.27 percent tax increase following Monday night’s board meeting.

The board voted 8 to 1 to hire John Toleno, the current superintendent of Stroudsburg Area School District in Pennsylvania, beginning a three-year contract as the district’s new superintendent that starts July 20, 2015 and ends August 31, 2018.

Board member David Karen voted against hiring Toleno, saying he did not think that Toleno displayed the vision that he hoped to detect in the right candidate for the position.

“Personally during the interview process I was not able to detect in Dr. Toleno the overall educational and administrative vision that would take this district to its aspiration of continual improvement and inspiring excellence in every students every day,” Karen said, noting he was in the minority in his opinion, but that it was too important an issue to go along with the majority.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20150601/upper-merion-area-school-board-hires-new-superintendent-passes-budget

Arena, Boscov’s Among Suitors For State Redevelopment Funds

More than 300 groups from across the state are lining up to get a piece of the $125 million available for Pennsylvania redevelopment projects.

Those requesting funding include the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority, which wants to upgrade Mohegan Sun Arena.

The competition is stiff in this recently streamlined state program — called the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program — with funding requests totaling 10 times the available grant money.

Gov. Tom Wolf will decide which projects receive grants in the fall.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/arena-boscov-s-among-suitors-for-state-redevelopment-funds-1.1890479

Council, Mayor Agree On Rules To Make Philly Developer-Friendly

A City Council committee on Friday moved forward a bill that would make Philadelphia more developer-friendly, and another to force earlier disclosure of money spent by super PACs during elections.

The development bill progressed after months of wrangling. If approved by Council and later by voters, it would create a cabinet-level department to take over functions now handled by a host of bodies that include the Planning Commission, Historical Commission, Housing Authority, Art Commission, and Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who introduced the legislation in September, said the new Department of Planning and Development would create efficiencies. During Friday’s hearing, he called the long revision process well worth it.

“It gave us an opportunity to not only come up with what I believe is personally a pretty good conclusion, but it gave us the ability to understand that this is going to be a working document,” he said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20150530_Council__mayor_agree_on_rules_to_make_Philly_developer-friendly.html#AETALoko1t6BboTZ.99

Overhaul Possible For West Mifflin’s Century III Mall

The Century III Mall could be in for a dramatic makeover as the owner considers demolishing part of the complex to provide more retailers with outside entrances and bring in medical offices and a hotel.

A preliminary plan posted — and later removed on Thursday — from the website of the mall’s owner, Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Capital Investments, called for opening the center part of the 1.3 million-square-foot complex so that it would resemble more of a outdoor shopping plaza.

It also called for a movie theater and 14,800-square-foot hotel, as well as transforming a vacant Sears store into medical offices or an assisted living facility.

Calls and email messages left for Moonbeam officials were not returned. However, West Mifflin officials said they had been talking with Moonbeam about the overhaul.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/8458529-74/mall-moonbeam-century#ixzz3bXtyh8Hk
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It’s Official: Wilkes-Barre City Council Approves Agreement To Revitalize Public Square

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The first hurdle is cleared.

Wilkes-Barre City Council on Thursday unanimously voted to enter into an agreement for the rehabilitation of Public Square. Once the deal is signed, the National Resource Network — a federal organization that aids cities facing economic hardship — will begin the process of securing a capital funding plan for the project.

The agreement was approved 4-0. Councilman Bill Barrett was excused from the meeting.

The National Resource Network will not fund the construction but will assist city officials in securing the project’s funding through both private and public revenue sources. The $66,000 agreement will require a 25 percent match, or $16,500.

Mayor Tom Leighton said the agreement will be signed Friday.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153769631/

Changing Skyline: Could Haddon Township Be Cool As Collingswood?

Editor’s note:  This is a very good article about how to revitalize an urban walkable community. Maybe some of the Pottstown leadership might take 5 minutes and read something constructive on how to bring about revitalization.  A simple phone call to either of these communities might provide invaluable information.  People like to share their successes!

For years, planners and residents have been trying to understand why Haddon Township isn’t more like Collingswood, the millennial enclave that is South Jersey’s answer to Fairmount and East Passyunk. Situated side by side in Camden County, the two towns are old-school commuter suburbs, with small house lots, good sidewalks, and great transit to Center City. They even share a main street, Haddon Avenue, which runs through the center of both.

The pair are models for what smart-growth advocates call walkable urbanism, but Collingswood’s downtown is by far the buzzier place. You can stroll for blocks along its part of Haddon Avenue, poking into vintage stores, stopping for coffee, enjoying an al fresco meal at a BYOB. In the evenings, it’s common to see pedestrians toting a wine caddy or pushing a stroller.

In Haddon’s downtown, known as Westmont, you might not see any pedestrians for blocks.

Westmont is a frustrating example of potential unrealized. Like Collingswood, it boasts a burgeoning restaurant scene and a weekly farmers’ market. It has some great blocks filled with early 20th-century storefronts that would look at home on Passyunk Avenue. But those destinations are just lonely islands in a stream of dreary strip malls and parking lots.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20150529_Changing_Skyline__Could_Haddon_Township_be_cool_as_Collingswood_.html#fXSPdB7XQKlcWW7o.99

York City Council Moves Forward On Plans To Hold City-FOP Informational Hearing

York City Council will hold an executive session with the city’s solicitor during the next few weeks to determine whether to push forward with an informational hearing about the issues between the city and the local police union that almost resulted in the firing of two officers.

Council president Carol Hill-Evans said Wednesday night that she expects the session to be held within the next couple of weeks, at which point the members will decide what direction to take.

At the end of last month, city officials publicly acknowledged their intentions to fire officers Michael Davis and Jeremy Mayer, both local police union officials, for what the city characterized as their poor handling of another officer’s accusations of a criminal enterprise within the police department.

The city and the police union reached a settlement that ultimately allowed both officers to stay on the force, but many questions about the allegations made against the department, its investigation of itself, why the city sought action against the two officers and the settlement the city and union came to have been unanswered, council members said Wednesday.

Read more:

http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_28201704/york-city-council-moves-forward-plans-hold-city

Refurbished Rail Cars Finally Roll On PATCO

PATCO finally rolled out the first of its refurbished rail cars Thursday morning, with local officials promising the $194 million overhaul will mean new levels of comfort, safety and reliability for commuters who travel between South Jersey and Center City.

The rebuilt cars, with new interiors, electronics and heating systems, are more than a year late returning to service from a factory in Hornell, N.Y., because of persistent problems fine-tuning an automatic signal system that gives operating instructions to the trains.

All systems, including new visual and audio station announcements, appeared to work flawlessly Thursday on the first train’s inaugural trip from Woodcrest station in Cherry Hill to the subway stop at 8th and Market streets in Center City.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150529_Refurbished_rail_cars_finally_roll_on_PATCO.html#5rso0iHdwzqSSrRm.99

Pottsville Residents Complain About Demolition Waste In Alley

When residents complained Tuesday about more than a ton of concrete refuse, which a city contractor dumped at the far end of a Pottsville alley more than a year ago, officials promised action.

“A contractor dumped those there about a year and a half ago. There’s a wall here that borders my yard. And the weight of those, with the snow and the rain, is pushing that wall toward my yard,” Sue Rich, 422 Harrison St., Pottsville, said.

Mark Santai, 426 Harrison St., and Betty Guy, 432 Harrison St., also complained about the load of concrete dropped behind their properties.

“We already talked to that contractor and he said he was going to come out and move that stuff. We’ll contact him again and if he doesn’t get to it in a couple of days, we might have to issue a citation,” Justin D. Trefsger, the city’s code enforcement officer, said Monday.

On Tuesday, City Administrator Thomas A. Palamar identified that contractor as Penn Earthworks, Hazleton.

Read more:

http://republicanherald.com/news/pottsville-residents-complain-about-demolition-waste-in-alley-1.1888747

Philadelphia Wants To Buy Former Scott Plaza Site As Part Of Airport-Expansion Plan

Philadelphia wants to buy the 27-acre property known as International Plaza on Route 291 in Tinicum Township, Delaware County, as part of a long-range expansion of Philadelphia International Airport.

An ordinance was introduced in City Council on Thursday, paving the way for the city-owned airport to purchase the complex, which has two office buildings that were once the corporate headquarters of Scott Paper Co.

The former Scott Plaza site is owned by a joint venture of affiliates of New York-based private equity firm Angelo Gordon & Co. and Amerimar Enterprises Inc., a commercial real estate development and management company.

“We are in the loop on this,” said Gerald Marshall, president and CEO of New York-based Amerimar Enterprises. “Yes, we are willing to sell it.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150527_Phila__wants_to_buy_former_Scott_Plaza_site_as_part_of_airport-expansion_plan.html#U7MimCXQbI5WcApC.99

Potential Face-Lift In Store For Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square And Its Fountain

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Something’s shaping up on Public Square.
 
During Tuesday’s work session, Wilkes-Barre City Council will hear a resolution allowing city officials to enter into an agreement for the rehabilitation of Public Square, with the downtown hub’s long-defunct water fountain as one of the potential project’s main focuses.
 
Andrew LaFratte, municipal affairs manager, said the administration applied for a grant in December through the National Resource Network, an organization that provides assistance to cities facing economic challenges. The creation of the network was at the core of the Obama Administration’s “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” initiative, enacted in 2012 to spark development in ailing communities with help from the federal government.
 
To be considered eligible for assistance, cities must have over 40,000 residents and must meet one of three criteria, including a 2013 annual average unemployment rate of 9 percent or more, a population decline of 5 percent or more between 2000 and 2010, or a poverty rate of 20 percent or more.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153665740/

Pittsburgh Has Dim View Of Ads On Sign Above Point

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The sign in question is to the right of the tall building and the incline. Looks like a cement wall next to the trees on the cliff. Actually a billboard.

Picture this scrolling hundreds of feet above the iconic confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers: “Chipped ham, $1.39 a pound.”

That’s the plot Mayor Bill Peduto says his administration has foiled as it negotiates a new permit with Lamar Advertising for the company’s famous 32-foot-tall, 225-foot-long neon sign on Mount Washington, which has loomed over the Point since around the time of the 1929 stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression.

Bayer, which for years had pushed for upgrades to the dilapidated sign that was covered with a banner during the G-20 summit in 2009 like an embarrassing piece of furniture, finally dropped its nearly 22-year lease of the sign last summer. Lamar pledged to overhaul it. During its lifespan, the sign has also been graced by the sponsorship of Iron City Beer and Alcoa, and displayed the time and the temperature.

Mr. Peduto said Friday that the company is threatening to cease the improvements over his administration’s insistence that the sign not be used for advertising purposes beyond displaying a company name. Mr. Peduto said he was told his stance “killed” a deal with Giant Eagle to become the new sponsor.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/05/23/Pittsburgh-has-dim-view-of-ads-on-sign-above-Point/stories/201505230071

Lancaster City Seeks Proposals For Bulova Building, Adjacent City Property

Lancaster city is formally seeking proposals for the vacant Bulova building and adjacent city-owned property in hopes of connecting a stagnant part of downtown.

The city intends to use eminent domain to take the Bulova building at North Queen and East Orange streets. That means the city would pay fair market value for the property and the building’s lien holders would then be paid.

The city issued requests for proposals on Friday.

Randy Patterson, the city’s economic development and neighborhood revitalization director, said the property is in a critical location downtown.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lancaster-city-seeks-proposals-for-bulova-building-adjacent-city-property/article_09f9f3de-00a7-11e5-84a4-17935f8a2998.html

Citizens Action Committee For Pottstown Schedules Another Public Meeting With Montco District Attorney’s Office

Another meeting with Assistant D.A.’s Kevin Steele and Jason Whalley is set up for June 1st, Pottstown Borough Hall, 100 E. High Street, 3rd floor at 7PM

THE LAST TURN OUT WAS FANTASTIC.  LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN AGAIN.

Hopefully we will have another great turnout with an active audience.

I would really like to focus in on additional things that the DA/PPD can be doing to help the residents with their efforts.

• A willingness to pursue property forfeiture (landlords renting to drug dealers and other criminals in Pottstown)

• A standardized form for recording and reporting suspicious/criminal activity if there are any other items that you are aware of or that any people that you have been speaking to think we should be pushing for, please comment or message us.

This is a form that we think could be a good choice for Pottstown. When details matter there needs to be a good reporting method for crime.

http://www.accesskansas.org/…/Is%20That%20House%20a%20Drug%…

Kennett Square Gets New, Refined Historic District

KENNETT SQUARE, PA – By a 4-3 vote, council Monday night adopted an ordinance that creates a new, expanded historic district, disbands the borough’s historic commission, and creates a unified Historic Architectural Review Board. The measure will affect every structure in the new and refined historic district.

“This is probably the toughest decision that we have made as a council,” said Leon Spencer, council president.

Councilors Geoff Bosley, Chip Plumley and Patrick Taylor dissented.

The ordinance is the result of a compromise from a previous proposed historic district ordinance that was more stringent and had two separate historic zones. That proposal was defeated last year.

Read more:

http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20150521/kennett-square-gets-new-refined-historic-district

Officials Envision Reinvigorated Allegheny County Airport

The county airport authority wants West Mifflin’s Allegheny County Airport to be a destination — but not for commuter flights.

That sums up a meeting borough officials had Monday with new authority CEO Christina Cassotis that came 24 hours before a $1.5 million federal grant was announced for taxiway rehabilitation there.

“It was a positive meeting,” borough Manager Brian Kamauf said. “We discussed the history of the airport.”

It dates back to Pittsburgh and McKeesport’s window to the world between 1931 and 1952, when commercial service moved from West Mifflin to what then was Greater Pittsburgh Airport, now Pittsburgh International.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/8407018-74/airport-county-authority#ixzz3asqtZ8jy
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Columbia Hopes To Land Downsized State Call Center, With 129 Jobs

A year after tabling a plan for a call center here, the state Department of Human Services now says it wants to put a smaller version of the call center somewhere in Lancaster County.

And even though the proposed call center has been shrunk by more than half, Columbia Borough is in hot pursuit of the venture, which would create 129 jobs.

Its Borough Council voted this week to spend $835,000 to support the effort of developer Bill Roberts to put the call center in a fire station at 137 S. Front St.

“Every now and then, when a municipality embarks on an economic development project, they need to be willing to put some skin in game,” said Mayor Leo Lutz.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/columbia/news/columbia-hopes-to-land-downsized-state-call-center-with-jobs/article_cf7669f8-ffdf-11e4-ac60-370a1a706522.html

Pottstown Crime Affected By Shorthanded Department, Increase In Drug Trade

POTTSTOWN, PA – There is a fairly simple reason why violent crime in Pottstown seems to have been on the rise in 2014.

The police were short-handed.

“At the beginning of 2014, we were down by 15 officers,” said Pottstown Police Chief Richard Drumheller.

“As a result, we had to pull people off the drug detail and, not surprisingly, we saw an increase in the drug problem,” he said.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150308/pottstown-crime-affected-by-shorthanded-department-increase-in-drug-trade