Hazleton Alliance Predicts Revitalized Downtown With Strategic Plan Completion

HAZLETON, PA — If the strategic plan for the continued revitalization of downtown Hazleton becomes a reality, the planner believe Broad Street will again be filled with shoppers, students, employees and neighbors, bringing fresh blood, an improved streetscape and a much needed increase in economic activity.

The five-year plan, which outlines specific strategies for achieving goals, was finalized last week after nearly a year of meetings, surveys and pubic input.

Krista Schneider, executive director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, the non-profit organization which commissioned and coordinated the effort, credits its Board of Directors, area leaders and Hazleton residents for their support of the project and willingness to “think outside of the box” when it comes to the city’s future.

Schneider said the effort reflects goals directed by Pennsylvania’s Main Street Program, a four-pronged approach that includes organization, promotion, restructuring and design.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153007106/

Gov. Tom Wolf Preaches ‘Gospel Of Manufacturing’ During Lehigh Valley Visit (Video)

Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that students educated at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute and Lehigh Carbon Community College will power Pennsylvania’s economic engine.

“If we’re going to have a future in manufacturing in Pennsylvania, what you learn here is really, really important,” Wolf told students after touring LCCC and LCTI, which sit on neighboring campuses in North Whitehall Township.

“I’m preaching the gospel of manufacturing,” he said.  “Manufacturing is making a comeback…Part of the reason manufacturing has a great future in Pennsylvania is because we have really good workers.”

Read more/watch video:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/index.ssf/2015/04/gov_tom_wolf_preaches_gospel_o.html

Gallup: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Well-Being Could Be Worse, But Not Much

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton area’s overall well-being could be worse, but not much.

The metropolitan area ranked 94th overall out of 100 communities in the U.S. in Gallup opinion poll “State of American Well-Being: 2014 Community Well-Being Rankings.”

The survey issued Tuesday compares how people feel about and experience their daily lives in five areas:

■ Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goal.

■ Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life.

Read more:

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/gallup-scranton-wb-well-being-could-be-worse-but-not-much-1.1860711

Montco Commissioners Kick Off Second Phase Of Lafayette Street Extension Project

NORRISTOWN, PA – The first phase has been completed, and now the second phase of a road project that will eventually connect Norristown to the Pennsylvania Turnpike will begin.

Despite the cold on Wednesday, the Montgomery County commissioners broke ground on the $12.9 million second phase of the project, which will extend Lafayette Street to Diamond Avenue in Plymouth Township. The second phase will also reconstruct and widen Diamond Avenue from the Pennsylvania Turnpike bridge to the Norristown border at Ross Street.

“Many of us were here together months ago when we kicked off phase one of the Lafayette Street extension project. Today we’re here to talk about ramping up phase two of the Lafayette Street extension project,” commissioners’ Chairman Josh Shapiro told a crowd of county employees and local officials involved in the project.

Shapiro told the group that they will begin to see traffic slow down as the second phase makes its way through its expected completion date of spring 2017, but he added there will not be detours on Ridge Pike in Plymouth Township.

Read more:

http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20150408/commissioners-kick-off-second-phase-of-lafayette-street-extension-project

Pittsburgh URA Set To Approve Housing Developments In Larimer, East Liberty

A new day is dawning in Larimer, with the city getting ready to plant the first seeds in a massive effort to revitalize the neighborhood with the help of a $30 million federal grant.

Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority board members are poised to give the go-ahead Thursday for construction of 85 mixed-income residential units in Larimer and East Liberty, the first phase of a broader $400 million revitalization strategy.

The townhouses and apartments will be built at the site of the former Liberty Park site and Omega Place in East Liberty and the former Auburn Towers site in Larimer.

They were made possible in part because of a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant awarded last year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Pittsburgh was only one of four cities in the country to win a grant. Forty-three had applied.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/04/08/URA-set-to-approve-Larimer-housing-project/stories/201504080115

Vote Clears The Way For Food Trucks In York City

Free-market ideology narrowly overpowered fears of the unknown Tuesday with the York City Council’s 3-2 vote to legalize and regulate food trucks on city streets.

The decision marks the end of a long and sometimes divisive debate over the financial impact roving restaurants could have on traditional brick-and-mortar establishments.

Where some saw food trucks as a potential boon for a growing downtown business landscape, others saw a potentially diluted customer base wreaking havoc on profit margins.

In the end, mobile food proponents got what they’d asked for and more.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/ci_27869256/vote-clears-way-food-trucks-york-city

Logans Ferry Demolition Could Bring Development Possibilities

With the demolition of what once was Alcoa’s Logans Ferry Powder Works, Plum will lose a historic touchstone but could gain a new foothold to the borough’s future.

A real estate company that bought the 20-acre industrial site in 1987 when Alcoa idled the plant recently began to raze more than a dozen brick buildings moldering at the base of Coxcomb Hill Road.

Alcoa moved its powder works to Plum in 1918 after the aluminum powder it produced sparked an explosion at the New Kensington Works the prior year. It was the first of three explosions associated with powder production in Alcoa’s New Kensington and Plum facilities that killed 17 people, the last in 1979.

During its 68 years of existence, the plant produced powder that gave automotive paint its sparkle, added durability and cooling properties to roof coatings, and was used as a base in rocket fuel, dynamite and fireworks.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourallekiskivalley/yourallekiskivalleymore/8090067-74/powder-works-ferry#ixzz3WdmIZAK7
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New Beginning: Allentown’s Warrington Avenue Poised For A Makeover

The crowd inside — and eventually outside — 816 E. Warrington Ave. one recent evening gathered to showcase a newly renovated Allentown property. The former Ken’s Variety had been vacant for more than 20 years.

As the evening deepened, “Open in Allentown,” a “pop-up” event with a garage-style glass door rolled up, became a stew of neighborhood leaders, investors, consultants, residents of Allentown and nearby neighborhoods mingling over cocktails and catered nibbles.

The event and mix of people signified what Hilltop Alliance executive director Aaron Sukenik called “Warrington Avenue in its reinvention phase.”

One mile from Downtown (Pittsburgh) and cradled by the hot markets of Mount Washington and the South Side Slopes, Allentown is riddled with residential blight, and 35 percent of its commercial properties are vacant. But the newly repaved Warrington Avenue is on the cusp of a transition from being seedy to being seen.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/04/06/New-beginning-in-Allentown-Warrington-Avenue-poised-for-a-makeover/stories/201504060015

Gov. Wolf Says Manufacturing Tax Credit Could Boost Pennsylvania Jobs, Industry

Pittsburgh may not be the steel town it once was, with the economy of the state’s second largest city these days tied more to hospitals and higher education than smoke stacks. But manufacturing is still a huge part of Pennsylvania’s economy.

The sector employs more than 571,000 people in the commonwealth — including more than 30,000 in the York-Hanover area alone.

The average compensation for someone who works in manufacturing, not just assembly line workers but plant managers and other executives, is more than $69,000. That’s well above Pennsylvania’s median household income, which was $52,548 in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With manufacturing’s above-average wages, new Gov. Tom Wolf has identified increasing the number of manufacturing jobs as one of his top economic priorities.

Read more:

http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27743500/gov-wolf-says-manufacturing-tax-credit-could-boost

York RDA Looking To Buy Cupids, Other North George Street Building

York’s Redevelopment Authority board on Wednesday gave its staff the go-ahead to negotiate a purchase of the two buildings at 244-250 N. George St., including the Cupid’s Adult Boutique building, which was partially damaged in a November fire.

The RDA wants to buy the two properties from their owner and find a developer who would redevelop them, said Shilvosky Buffaloe, York’s deputy director of economic development.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27742943/rda-looking-buy-two-buildings-at-244-250

Special Project: Is Pottstown More Dangerous Than Other Towns?

Editor’s note:  A continuation of Evan Brandt’s series about crime in Pottstown.  Well worth the read.  The blogging community has been trying to get this problem addressed for a while now and it’s great that the mainstream media and Montco officials are getting on the bandwagon to clean up Pottstown.  We feel Pottstown has great potential but it can’t be realized until crime is brought under control.  When criminals learn that Pottstown isn’t open for business anymore, redevelopment can really take hold.

How many times have you heard it in the past year?

“Pottstown is turning into another Reading.”

It’s the kind of comparison not meant to reflect well on the Berks County seat, labeled in 2011 as the nation’s poorest city.

But comparisons are a way to put things in context.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150309/special-project-is-pottstown-more-dangerous-than-other-towns

Has Philadelphia’s Market East’s Time Finally Come?

If Philadelphia were a basketball court, Market Street East would be that inexplicable dead spot on the floor, the place where the ball just doesn’t bounce.

The eight-block corridor has four Dunkin’ Donuts and two Subway sandwich shops — but no outdoor cafe. A McDonald’s sits in what used to be a porn emporium.

The mid-street shopping selection on what should be a glittery avenue ranges from drug store to cut-rate clothing to cash-for-gold. Addicts come and go from a methadone clinic. The homeless own the corners, and the constant, rolling wall of buses fouls the air.

For years, when people like Paul Levy pitched the route’s potential to developers, they answered, “Yeah, I get it, but nobody goes to Market Street.”

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Mall_to_the_Hall.html

Changing Skyline: Developer Roland Kassis Transforming Fishtown Into Hip Haven

Every changing neighborhood in Philadelphia seems to have one: a developer who dominates the scene.

In Northern Liberties, it’s Bart Blatstein. In Newbold, it’s John Longacre. In Point Breeze, it’s Ori Feibush. On South Broad Street, it’s Carl Dranoff. They amassed their real estate holdings when the neighborhoods were cheap, then became the masters of their destinies when the places emerged, Sleeping Beauty-like, from slumber.

Now, it’s Fishtown’s turn, and Roland Kassis is the reigning developer. Over 25 years, Kassis estimates, his company, Domani Developers, has collected a million square feet of property, mainly in old manufacturing buildings along Frankford Avenue, the neighborhood’s commercial spine. That’s almost as much space as the Comcast Tower holds.

Kassis, 44, who was born in Lebanon, raised in Liberia, and speaks French, exhibits the same manic energy and insatiable appetite for abandoned factories as the other neighborhood titans, but he has a sensibility more in tune with Fishtown’s arty, DIY, tattoo-and-vintage-loving culture. He not only nurtured a yoga studio on Frankford Avenue, he practices there and eschews meat. It’s hard to imagine many other Philadelphia developers chanting “Om.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20150306_Changing_Skyline__Developer_Roland_Kassis_transforming_Fishtown_into_hip_haven.html#AgDY2fTHVBtIvMvF.99

Study Ranks York Area High As Location For Distribution Centers

A new report gives the York area high marks as a place for locating a distribution center.

Access to a rail line and the Port of Baltimore and comparatively low labor costs make the area one of the best places in the U.S. for siting a distribution center, according to a report from The Boyd Company, a Princeton, N.J.-based firm that advises companies on where they should locate.

The study comes after Target Corp. selected West Manchester Township earlier this month as the site for a massive facility to fill orders for its online customers. And auto parts maker Federal-Mogul is locating a distribution center in a new 708,000 square-foot building Chicago development firm First Industrial Realty Trust built in Manchester Township near Exit 24 on Interstate 83..

York does well when it comes to attracting such facilities “and we see that trend continuing,” John Boyd Jr., principal at The Boyd Company, said in a telephone interview.

Read more:

http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27559916/study-ranks-york-area-high-location-distribution-centers

Latrobe Revitalization Program Shifts Focus To Facade, Beautification Projects

Executive Director Jarod Trunzo detailed several projects the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program hopes to advance in the coming year at last week’s Latrobe City Council meeting.

Trunzo wanted to give council a “snapshot” of what the group is working on as it changes its focus on development instead of events.

The revitalization program will continue to operate the Latrobe Farmers Market, but has turned over Steelers Fest and the Great American Banana Split Festival to the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Some projects will start in March when the weather breaks, then continue through the summer, Trunzo said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourlatrobe/yourlatrobemore/7751678-74/latrobe-trunzo-development#ixzz3S2xupFNs
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CEO Of Royal Square Development Shares Market Street Vision For York

For Joshua Hankey, Wednesday was about as big a day as they come.

Only minutes after closing a deal on one key property — The Weinbrom Jewelers building at 58 W. Market St. — Hankey presented his $11.7 million plan to redevelop Market Street to a packed audience at the Yorktowne Hotel Ballroom.

The 36-year-old president and CEO of Royal Square Development and Construction presented his vision of a transformed Market Street to about 180 Rotarians and guests, a crowd that included business owners, clergy, attorneys, doctors and other prominent citizens.

The vision, Hankey said, is to breathe new life into the Market Street corridor, so that it serves to link thriving commercial areas on Beaver Street and the Royal Square neighborhood Hankey’s company is redeveloping.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27461444/ceo-royal-square-development-shares-market-street-vision

Downtown Lancaster Marriott’s Owner Proposes 96-Room, $23M Expansion

Lancaster MarriottThe math is simple.

If the Lancaster County Convention Center wants to attract bigger numbers of large conventions, it needs bigger numbers of nearby, convention-quality hotel rooms.

And right now, despite 299 rooms in the adjoining Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, plus 134 more at The Hotel Lancaster two blocks away, research studies show that downtown is coming up short.

But a new proposal by the Marriott’s owner would make the convention center more appealing to the organizers of these big events.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/downtown-marriott-s-owner-proposes–room-m-expansion/article_b1b39a1e-a8da-11e4-b47b-3bbb05f76f38.html

Bethlehem Main Street Streetscape Project Scaled Back, Next Phase To Start In March

Instead of another $2.7 million in upgrades, Bethlehem’s Main Street will be getting a $500,000 overhaul come spring.

Building upon a $532,000 upgrade of the intersection of Main and Market streets, city officials had planned on an extensive $3.2 million streetscape project between Broad and Church streets. But both the city and property owners say a scaled-back $1 million total project is more feasible.

The city had planned to replace all of the street’s sidewalks as it did at Main and Market but will instead just be repairing broken slate and brick on the four blocks, which is Bethlehem’s busiest business thoroughfare.

Hotel Bethlehem managing partner Bruce Haines said he and other Main Street property owners couldn’t afford the higher-priced overhaul. The city is seeking a 50-50 project cost split with property owners.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/01/bethlehem_main_street_streetsc_1.html

Belovich Announces Bid For 4th Ward Council Seat In Pottstown

Editor’s note:  We endorse Ross Belovich for 4th Ward Councilor.  We think he would be a wonderful addition to the borough government and brings may good ideas on how to move Pottstown forward.  Something that is desperately needed!

POTTSTOWN, PA = Within days of Pottstown Borough Council President Stephen Toroney announcing he will not seek another term representing the Fourth Ward, another Democrat has announced his candidacy.

North Hanover Street resident Ross Belovich, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for mayor in 2013, has thrown his hat into the ring.

In an announcement posted on Facebook, Belovich wrote that “I believe that individually we can do good, but together we can do great.”

Toroney announced he would not seek a fifth term at the end of the Jan. 12 council meeting.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150116/belovich-announces-bid-for-4th-ward-council-seat-in-pottstown

Grand Plans For Riverfront Hotels, Wedding Halls In Fishtown

Developer Bart Blatstein and caterer Joseph Volpe say they have signed a contract with Exelon Corp. to buy the former Delaware Station electric plant on the Delaware River in the city’s Fishtown section.

The property boast a 1,000-foot stretch of waterfront and includes a pier.

“We envision two boutique hotels, each leading into their own ballrooms with 55-foot-high ceilings,” said Volpe, owner of Cescaphe Event Group, which organizes 600 wedding receptions a year at its five Philadelphia venues.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind property,” said Blatstein, best known for the Piazza at Schmidt’s and other housing-and-retail projects that have helped transform some of the city’s older, grittier neighborhoods.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150116_Grand_plans_for_riverfront_hotels__wedding_halls_in_Fishtown.html#yu0DdUDgHTFBg6HI.99