MCCC’s Sustainability And Innovation Hub In Pottstown Earns Montgomery Award For Excellent Planning And Design

Montgomery County Community College received one of the Montgomery County Planning Commission’s Montgomery 2016 award for the planning and design of its Sustainability and Innovation Hub. From left: Jill Blumhardt, Montgomery County Planning Commission board member; Dulcie F. Flaharty, Vice Chair, Montgomery County Planning Commission, Dr. David DiMattio, Vice President of West Campus; Dr. Kevin Pollock, MCCC President; and Jaime Garrido, Associate Vice President for Facililties and Construction at MCCC.

Montgomery County Community College received one of the Montgomery County Planning Commission’s Montgomery 2016 award for the planning and design of its Sustainability and Innovation Hub. From left: Jill Blumhardt, Montgomery County Planning Commission board member; Dulcie F. Flaharty, Vice Chair, Montgomery County Planning Commission, Dr. David DiMattio, Vice President of West Campus; Dr. Kevin Pollock, MCCC President; and Jaime Garrido, Associate Vice President for Facililties and Construction at MCCC.

Blue Bell/Pottstown, PA— The Montgomery County Planning Commission recently  presented Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) with a 2016 Montgomery Award for the planning and design of its Sustainability and Innovation Hub at 140 College Drive, Pottstown.

MCCC was one of five award recipients to receive this honor during a recent awards ceremony held at Theatre Horizon in Norristown. The other recipients are The Courts of Spring Mill Station, Whitemarsh Township; Narberth Place, Narberth Borough; Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, East Norriton Township; and Reliance Crossing, Souderton Borough. Additionally, Paul W. Meyer, the F. Otto Haas Executive of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, received the 2016 Planning Advocate Award.

MCCC’s Hub not only has programs in sustainability and innovation, but the building and property are themselves models of these principles. During the course of six years, MCCC transformed the building, a former energy substation, and three-acre brownfield site into a state-of-the-art center for education, innovation and conservation.

“The building is a sustainable energy hub outside–with the wind turbines, green roof and impervious parking lot—and inside—with programs in aquaponics, hydroponics, robotics, engineering and software development,” said Vice President of West Campus Dr. David DiMattio. “The Hub also represents collaboration with the community, through partnerships with the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage area, Riverfront Park, Schuylkill River Trail and Pottstown Borough.”

The architect for the project was Murray Associates Architects of Harrisburg, and the engineering company was Bruce Brooks and Associates of Philadelphia.

Pottstown Borough transferred the property to MCCC in 2007. The rehabilitation was both part of Pottstown’s Redevelopment Plan, as outlined in its 2003 “Riverfront & Memorial Parks Master Plan,” and a way for MCCC to expand its West Campus.

Starting in 2010, MCCC developed the site in three extensive phases, concluding in 2016 with the opening of the Hub on April 18.

Phase I started with the installation of a 202-space parking lot. The innovative design uses bioretention and includes the planting of more than 130 native plants and trees. Through an EPA grant, MCCC installed energy-saving LED lighting.

Phase II included abatement and cleaning of mold, lead and asbestos from the building and involved preparing the building’s south side infrastructure for demolition and remediation. MCCC replaced the leaking roof with an eco-friendly green roof; added a new entrance, handicap-accessible ramp and energy efficient windows; and updated water and sewer services.

Between Phases II and III, MCCC installed four wind turbines on the property. The turbines produce a collective 4,000 watts of energy–enough to power the LED parking lot lighting. The turbines were designed as a demonstration project to teach students and the community about alternative energy production.

Phase III involved the construction of the Hub’s classrooms and innovation spaces in the building’s south side. The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area (SRHA) has its headquarters in the north side of the building since 2002, which also includes the River of Revolutions Interpretative Center for visitors.

The Hub’s first floor features an aquaponics and hydroponics teaching laboratory, which supports MCCC’s interdisciplinary Environmental Studies degree program, as well as future programs in the areas such as greenhouse technology, food production, horticulture and landscape design. Aquaponics and hydroponics involve growing fish and soil-less plants in a symbiotic system.

The Hub’s second floor features an Engineering Design Center, which supports MCCC’s Engineering Technology program and prepares graduates for careers in the advanced technology fields of instrumentation, communications and mechanical structures and systems. In this space, MCCC students, faculty and community businesses are working with robotics and 3D printing.

The Hub’s mezzanine floor is a flexible innovation space that can be used by the community, as well as for classes. MCCC holds its new Software Developer Academy in this area.

For more information about MCCC’s Sustainability and Innovation Hub, contact Dr. David DiMattio at ddmatti@mc3.edu or 610-819-2070.

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

Wilkes-Barre Residents Voice Concerns About Plan To Convert Sacred Heart Into 31-Unit Apartment Building

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A proposal to convert the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and School into high-end apartments drew the ire of several North End residents at Wednesday’s Zoning Hearing Board meeting.

Philadelphia developer Hysni Syla, a current Kingston resident, said he “came here to invest” in potential development sites like the shuttered school and church at 601 N. Main St. The former closed in 2011 as shrinking membership and a drop in priests forced the Diocese of Scranton to close the doors of the century-old church.

The proposal would convert the school into 31 units, while renovating the church into an art studio and rectory into four additional apartment units.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/152948142/

Once-Abandoned South Wilkes-Barre Warehouse Gets New Life Behind Colorful Upgrade

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A bare shell.

That was the state of 152 Horton St. in South Wilkes-Barre before Steve Taren pegged it as the new site of his graphic and design business.

Taren, 57, owns and operates Wet Paint Printing & Design out of the location. Before he purchased the property last year, the former South Wilkes-Barre woodworking warehouse was fully gutted — abandoned for five years as looters stripped it clean of anything remotely valuable.

“Every wire, every piece of copper, even the water meter which is made of brass, they were all gone,” Taren said.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news-news/152665332/

10-Story Bethlehem Building Better Suited For Apartments, Developer Says

When Borko Milosev bought a 10-story office building in Bethlehem in December, he had new plans in mind.

Instead of offices, Milosev thought the upper floors of the Santander building on the corner of Elizabeth Avenue and Center Street were better suited for apartments.

“You have an unobstructed views all around it,” he said. “The views are absolutely gorgeous.”

Milosev and a business partner have submitted plans to the Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board to turn the building’s six upper floors into 48 apartments. The four lower floors would remain offices.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/03/10-story_bethlehem_building_be.html

Lehigh Valley Apartments Are Still Booming With No Bust In Sight, Experts Say

When Mark Mulligan saw how fast his new apartments in Easton’s former Pomeroy’s building were leasing, he started snapping up more city properties for more rentals.

Now more developers are jumping on board. In one week alone this month, three new apartment projects were announced in the Easton area, including a plan for 240 apartments at an abandoned industrial site in Palmer Township.

City Center Lehigh Valley is building 370 apartments in Allentown, 570 apartments have been approved along Freemansburg Avenue in Bethlehem Township and the long-stalled Dixie Cup factory renovation in Wilson Borough appears to be finally starting with plans for 250 apartments.

There’s no denying that the Lehigh Valley is in the midst of an apartment boom. But will there be a bust?

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/02/lehigh_valley_apartments_are_s.html

Spring House Brewing’s $2M Lancaster City Project To Be Completed In Spring

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Next May or so, Matt Keasey will be able to take his foot off the proverbial brake.

That’s when Keasey will no longer need to ration how much of his Spring House Brewing beer he sells to his wholesale distributors.

By then, Spring House Brewing’s new city brewery and brew pub will be operational, replacing a smaller brewery in Conestoga.

“It’s difficult,” said Keasey, the founder, brewmaster and co-owner.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/spring-house-brewing-s-m-city-project-to-be-completed/article_26864ea2-6b75-11e4-84f5-87894514c58c.html

Steps Taken To Address Building Blight, But Lancaster May Still Move To Take Problem Property

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Annville developer Kenneth Wenger has paid back taxes, ensured the grounds of the former G.E. Richards building are clean and the grass cut.

He has resolved nearly all the issues that led city inspectors to declare the 502-506 W. Walnut St. property blighted.

But that didn’t stop city Redevelopment Authority board members on Tuesday from voting to begin the process of taking the property by eminent domain.

In April, the board gave Wenger until Sept. 30 to address blighted conditions. The taking could occur in as little as 90 days unless Wenger takes action.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/steps-taken-to-address-building-blight-but-city-may-still/article_479f45ec-3e09-11e4-bf1e-0017a43b2370.html

Fresh Start Planned For Blighted York City Building

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

A York City businessman plans to gut a blighted downtown building to make room for a future restaurant.

Elliott Weinstein, president and CEO of Weinstein Realty Advisors, will soon be the owner of 45 W. Market St., the former Griffith-Smith menswear store.

York City’s Redevelopment Authority gave the $2,000 sale the green light Wednesday. Technically, the sale is not final until the paperwork is signed and money exchanged.

Weinstein said he’s hoping to take advantage of York County’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, or LERTA, program, which is designed to incentivize economic development by stretching property taxes on improvements over 10 years.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25811017/fresh-start-planned-blighted-york-city-building

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Is Wilkes-Barre’s Irem Temple Next On The Demolition List?

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — At some point something has to be done with the Irem Temple, and Rick Williams and others hope it’s not torn down like the nearby Hotel Sterling.

Last week demolition crews razed a good portion of the rear of the hotel.

They’re moving to the North River Street side today to continue to reduce the landmark structure to rubble.  The hotel opened in 1898, and nine years later, the temple, designed in Moorish revival architecture complete with four minarets and dome, was completed on North Franklin Street.

Like the hotel, it’s been vacant for years, and architect Rick Williams fears its brick walls could be bashed to pieces by the steel buckets and blades of excavators, like those leveling the hotel.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/707441/Is-the-Irem-Temple-next

Fishtown Baseball Factory To Become 30 Homes

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

The Zoning Board of Adjustment voted Wednesday to grant a handful of variances to Domani Developers, which is planning to convert a former baseball factory at 1701 Tulip Street in Fishtown into a 30-unit apartment complex. (Yes, that’s an empty factory that used to make baseballs: the A.J. Reach sporting goods company.)

The building has been vacant since 2004, according to developer Roland Kassis, and he was unable to find a viable industrial use for the property, which is zoned I-2.  Kassis said that the city in general and Fishtown in particular have seen a growing demand for small, one- and two-bedroom apartments, which is what he intends to put in the building.  According to the zoning application, the developer intends to build a fifth-story addition, roof deck space, and a canopy over the first floor.

The project, designed by architects at Cecil Baker Partners, won the support of the local RCO, Fishtown Neighbors Association, by a vote of 107 to 77.  A quick calculation shows that that is not a unanimous vote, and the reason seems to be parking: the planned apartment complex contains none.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/Former_Fishtown_baseball_factory_into_30_residences.html#kImEFmot6HpZBt4m.99

Coffee-Roasting Site Planned On East Marion Street In Lancaster

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Kyle Sollenberger often walks along East Marion Street with his children from his East Orange Street home to Musser Park.

He would pass the vacant, dilapidated building that was the former home of Gam Manufacturing.

An entrepreneur, Sollenberger began thinking about ways to better the neighborhood by reusing the building at 315 E. Marion St..

On Monday, Sollenberger and his architect laid out plans to members of Lancaster city’s Historical Commission.

A city cafe, which he declined to name, is interested in using the building to roast coffee. Previously, before the city’s Zoning Hearing Board, he said the cafe operators also would have a bakery in the building to prepare items for sale in the cafe.  Employee training also would occur there.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/828453_Coffee-roasting-site-planned-on-East-Marion-Street-in-Lancaster.html#ixzz2ONOqY3PT

Lancaster County To Have Largest Indoor Sports Complex In U.S

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

On a recent weekday, a couple of hard-hatted workers patched holes in the concrete floor of a former Armstrong World Industries distribution center in East Hempfield Township.

While a handful of other workers stretched communication lines across a bare metal mezzanine, a sweeper droned methodically across the shiny floor of the massive structure.

It’s hard to picture now, but by March, this building should be bustling with adults and kids headed for soccer, tennis and lacrosse tournaments; basketball and football games; physical therapy appointments; and exercise workouts.

March 1 is the target date for the opening of Spooky Nook Sports Complex, a $25 million project to transform the idled distribution center into what will be the biggest indoor sports complex in the United States.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/780771_Sports-center-on-target-to-open-March-1.html#ixzz2CgpVADae

Bethlehem Zoners Reject South Side Artist Colony

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

A nonprofit developer said this week’s zoning denial would not stop its multi-million-dollar plan to bring low-rent housing and a convert a vacant church into an art gallery in south Bethlehem.

Housing Development Corp. Midatlantic of Lancaster will go back to the drawing board to determine how to address the parking issues associated with the $11 million project, President Michael Carper said.

“We closed on the properties. We own them. We’re not going away and will make it work,” he said.

Plans included converting the vacant St. Stanislaus Church on Hayes Street into an art gallery accompanied with building 28 new, low-rent townhouses, loft apartments and 26 parking spaces on the property.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-zoners-art-gallery-20120927,0,2601905.story

Scranton Is A ‘Hot Commodity’ For Downtown Residential Housing

Scranton‘s financial house may be in disorder, but the downtown residential boom continues to build momentum.

More than $11.3 million in three ongoing developments will add 74 apartments to Central City by next summer.

“Scranton is a hot commodity,” said Charlie Jefferson, an investor in the $8.6 million redevelopment of the Scranton Chamber of Commerce Building at Mulberry Street and North Washington Avenue.

Scranton’s municipal government is facing a credit crisis and recently borrowed $6.25 million to cover short-term financial obligations.  City residents could face potential tax increases of 39 to 79 percent – or more – over the next three years.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-is-a-hot-commodity-for-downtown-residential-housing-1.1377909

Garden Spot Village’s Urban Retirement Project Dropped

In the nearly two years that Garden Spot Village marketed high-end units planned for the former Lancaster Press building, they saw lots of interest.

But no takers.

More than 450 people looked at the model unit that opened in February in the building at North Prince and West Lemon streets or stopped at the previous marketing office down the street.

They liked the building. They liked the downtown location. But they were looking for a condominium to buy or an apartment to rent.

When faced with questions about where they wanted to retire, “it caused them to pause in the process,” said Steve Lindsey, chief executive officer of the New Holland-based retirement community.

PMC Property Group Acquiring Fifth Downtown Pittsburgh Site

A Philadelphia developer is poised to grab yet another property Downtown, its fifth in the last two years.

PMC Property Group has signed a sales agreement with Alco Parking president Merrill Stabile to buy the Jackman Building at 526 Penn Ave. next to the Penn and Sixth Street parking garage in the Cultural District.

The 10-story building has been largely vacant since the Art Institute of Pittsburgh moved out a decade ago.  The first floor houses a Subway sandwich shop and Quest Diagnostics.  Floors 2 through 10 are empty.

Mr. Stabile said PMC plans to convert the upper floors into apartments, just as it has done or plans to do with several of the other buildings it has acquired.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/pmc-property-group-acquiring-fifth-downtown-pittsburgh-site-650827/#ixzz24sRq3tyQ

Businesses Worry Over Scranton’s Deepening Financial Crisis

Between sips of soda at Sal’s Pizza on Linden Street, Nick Noll recounted his time as a Scranton business owner.

His business, Keystone Granite and Marble, was on Diamond Avenue in Scranton but moved to Old Forge earlier this year as he saw deepening financial problems and grew tired of the business privilege tax.

“As soon as I moved to Old Forge I felt like I received a raise,” Mr. Noll said. “It no longer became a question of whether or not I should pay my taxes or take my family on vacation.”

Mr. Noll said the increase in the gross receipts tax proposed in the city’s revised recovery plan from 0.75 percent to 1 percent is “counterproductive” to bringing business back into the city.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/businesses-worry-over-deepening-financial-crisis-1.1354898

Praise For King Street Proposal In Lancaster

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Lancaster, Pa. – With recently renovated retail, office space and apartments across the street and a 466-space parking garage next door, Eric Nordstrom thinks the future is bright for 160 E. King St.

Nordstrom’s Geten LLC purchased the former television and appliance store in December.

After extensive renovations, he plans to lease the space to a restaurant or retail tenant before next spring.  The upper floors of the three-story building will be renovated into office space.

Nordstrom’s plans earned praise Monday from the city’s Historical Architectural Review Board.  The board will recommend City Council approval next Tuesday.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/681570_Praise-for-King-Street-proposal.html#ixzz1zakxeGAZ

Is More Low-Income Housing Trying To Sneak Into Pottstown? Rumor Has It!

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note: This email was sent to us from a concerned Pottstown Borough homeowner.  While we tend not to post speculative things, two people told our writer the same tale of woe regarding this matter.  It would seem plausible with Jason’s departure looming on the horizon and Councilor Rhoads’ resignation, some may think this is a good time for a Trojan Horse maneuver??

A concerned citizen writes:

“Yesterday, it was reported that the Pearl Project, low-income housing for seniors by the river is d.o.a.  But what’s coming in through the back door but yet ANOTHER developer with low-income tax credits to ply and where else but Pottstown?  Rumor has it that a meeting is slated, sometime soon, with the newly departing borough manager, Jason Bobst, to discuss low-income house right next door to the former Pearl site, in the Old Shirt Factory.  BUT HEY, weren’t there plans not so long ago that envisioned this building as upscale, market rate condos?  Wouldn’t that vision align with the ULI recommendation to make “magic” on our riverfront?

While Pottstown struggles with re-defining itself we’ve seen the unexpected resignation of a vital member of council and a maybe not-so-unexpected resignation of our beloved Borough Manager.  Come on people, we are reeling from these set backs now is NOT the time to sit idle while the big tax credit investors now try to enter through the back door with their low-income concepts that are wrong, wrong, wrong on every level for Pottstown.  Jason, if you can leave this community with just one more, vital parting good deed….PLEASE JUST SAY NO.  Give us a fighting chance to re-group and redefine, to seek qualified leadership that supports a better vision for Pottstown.  We know that we have so much more to offer and we ask only for your consideration and kindness.  Please leave us with a legacy of hope and a reason to continue to strive.”