Sinking Spring Focuses On Revitalizing Downtown

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

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

When a group set out to revitalize Sinking Spring’s downtown in 2008, it planned to start with the west side of town.

Then a developer shifted the focus to what’s now known as the Spring Market shopping center in the eastern section.

Now the group is trying to advance a plan for the central district, calling for a new mix of residential and commercial space south of Penn Avenue.

The revitalization group, known as BOSS 2020, for Borough of Sinking Spring 2020, met with an architectural firm and came up with the downtown plan.

Alcon of Sinking Spring contributed $8,000 to the effort.

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This Year, Home Design Is All About You

Wondering what the hot home design trends will be for 2012?  The answer, at least in some instances, is whatever you want it to be.
“2012 is going to be an eclectic mix.  It’s not going to be something that’s very definable,” said interior designer Valerie Betz of Studio VB, located at 218 Verbeke Street in Harrisburg. “It’s not going to be this style or this country.  It’s more about taking a deviation and being more eclectic.” 





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Functionality And Beauty Are The Hallmarks Of StudioVB In Midtown Harrisburg

One of the many new businesses springing up in Midtown Harrisburg is StudioVB.  The interior design studio is co-owned by husband and wife team Logan and Valerie Betz.  Valerie is the Interior Designer and Logan is the Business Manager.

Valerie and Logan have beautifully renovated their own historic Midtown row house and are part of the emerging arts scene that is attracting hip, young professionals, who want the convenience of city living, to Midtown Harrisburg.

Valerie has two degrees, one in Fine Arts and one in Interior Design.   Valerie studied at the New York School of Interior Design and worked for several prestigious design firms in New York City before returning to her native Harrisburg.

Valerie’s love for design has grown into a passion and a great appreciation of the relationship between efficient functionality and beautiful design. She has a particularly strong talent for clean lines, small spaces, combining textures, and refined details.  In addition to being an interior designer, Valerie is a skilled artist.  Being a designer and an artist is a winning combination.

StudioVB is small enough to give you the personalized attention you deserve, yet large enough to tackle a full-scale interior design project.  No project or budget is too small.

StudioVB offers services such as:  interior design, home staging for sale, DIY design plans, re-design, green and sustainable design, e-design, event design, home organization and fine art.

StudioVB wants to help you with your design dilemma in an efficient and affordable way.  They want to make the most of your living space, while adding beauty and functionality to your life and home.

StudioVB serves Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, Carlisle and Lebanon.  They will also consider projects across Pennsylvania and in surrounding states.

To learn more about StudioVB:


Voice: (717) 884-8243

StudioVB, LLC

218 Verbeke Street

Harrisburg, PA  17102

Studio hours are by appointment only

Monday – Friday from 10am until 6pm

Please call to schedule an appointment.

Lancaster City Hires New Arts Manager – The Goal: Make Lancaster “A Significant Arts Destination”

Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray has made the arts part of Lancaster City’s newly revised strategic plan.  Lancaster is to become a significant arts destination.  Evidence of the arts momentum in Lancaster is the hugely successful First Friday’s and the increasing amount of public art appearing throughout the city.  The goal is for much more. 

Making Lancaster more aesthetically pleasing will enhance the quality of life for city residents and give tourists another reason to come to Lancaster County; other than riding around in tour buses staring at the Amish, eating at Shady Maple and shopping at the Rockvale Outlets.  A trip to Lancaster County is not complete until one thoroughly immerses one’s self in the historic City of Lancaster (i am a former city resident who walked to Central Market to grocery shop every week).

So how does one go about turning this vision into a goal and then into a reality?  First, one gets a $200,000 grant from the Lancaster County Community Foundation that will pay the Arts Manager’s salary for three years.  Secondly, find a great candidate like John Lustig and hire him away from Indiana State University where he was the Curator and Director of the university’s permanent collection (valued at $45 million with 7,000 pieces of art).  Finally, support him and allow him to do his job (which by all accounts will happen).

John is a doer.  On his first day, John wrote up a letter of intent for a grant from National Endowment of the Arts.  The deadline was midnight and John worked until 9:30 p.m. to make sure Lancaster would be in the running for this funding.  Impressive first day!

Lustig will be jumping on an arts bandwagon that is already going strong in Lancaster.  His role will be to kick things up a notch and bring more community attention to the arts scene.  John will also be learning what other cities are doing to fund their arts programs and report back his findings.  This information will help city officials find creative ways to fund public art projects without reinventing the wheel or breaking the bank.

John is excited about finding an iconic piece of art that will come to be identified with Lancaster (like the LOVE statue is to Philly, the “arch” to St. Louis or the Statue of Liberty with NYC.)  Public art is a very broad term that can be applied to more than sculpture and murals.  Lustig also considers things like architecture, design, commercial signs and audio clips played in a public space as art.  Creativity exists in all things man-made.  Maybe he has a twin brother who would like a job in Pottstown!?!

Just another reason to heart Lancaster!

Pittsburgh Building Comprehensive Growth Plan With Participation From Thousands Of Residents

Duquesne University's view of the Pittsburgh s...

Image via Wikipedia

Pittsburgh is establishing a comprehensive growth plan to “right size” the city after years of population loss.  Year one has already been completed with thousands of residents taking part in helping to shape a way forward for Pennsylvania’s second largest city.

This plan, which is expected to be completed in 2014, will focus on the following areas in order:

Open spaces and parks – wrapping up

Cultural heritage and preservation – up and running

The next ten have yet to be started:


Public art



City-owned buildings


Economic development




Land Use

The Pittsburgh planning department is enthusiastically seeking participation from city residents!  The cost of this long-range plan is $2.3 million dollars.  Cities are not required to submit comprehensive plans but they can opt to do so.  Only a handful of cities have done this.  Pittsburgh is once again being a leading innovator in their approach to managed growth and sustainability.

These components were not accidentally chosen.  Open space is first because vacant land use will influence every other category on the list.  Pittsburgh has 5,500 acres of open space.   Half is parks and 14,000 vacant lots make up the rest.  Pittsburgh realizes that green space has an impact on property values.

These meetings last two hours and are held on various nights and in several locations around Pittsburgh to maximize citizen involvement.

Pittsburgh is consistently ranked as one of America’s most livable cities.