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

Charleroi Envisions Riverfront Destination As Focal Point Of Business Redevelopment Plan

Map of Washington County higlighting Charleroi.

Map of Washington County higlighting Charleroi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Imagine that, another town with a vision and a plan…with the rash of shootings going on in Pottstown again….a vision and a plan would be in order.  Just sayin’…

Donn Henderson sees the Charleroi riverfront development he wants 25 miles away in Pittsburgh.

“It’s not rocket science. There are plenty of examples,” said Henderson, manager of the borough, which will announce a redevelopment plan for the central business district Thursday. “Just look at the North Side. That’s a great model. The South Side, too.”

Re-creating Pittsburgh’s successes deep in Washington County‘s Mon Valley will not be easy. But continuing to watch the once-thriving industrial and retail community lose population amid growing drug and crime problems certainly will accomplish nothing, Henderson said.

“We cannot continue that trend and survive,” he said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/washington/7133358-74/charleroi-henderson-buildings#ixzz3IxX1Lmiv
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Thrival Festival To Showcase Pittsburgh’s Music, Tech Scenes

Locator map with the East Liberty neighborhood...

Locator map with the East Liberty neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pass through East Liberty and Larimer this week, and you might hear some music and see some gadgets made right here in Pittsburgh.

The Thrival Festival starts Monday, featuring a week’s worth of novel computer products and people brainstorming about how to persuade tech types that Pittsburgh fosters innovation. Plus, there’s music. Talib Kweli will play on Saturday, and Moby will perform on Sunday.

“The goal of this year is to make some noise, to get Pittsburgh on the map more than we already are — to darken the blot,” said Bobby Zappala, CEO of Thrill Mill, an East End tech business incubator sponsoring the festival.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6735665-74/festival-pittsburgh-products#ixzz3CkFI9PJP
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Homeownership In Philadelphia Tumbles, Report Says

The homeownership rate in Philadelphia declined sharply between 2000 and 2012, primarily as a consequence of the prolonged and sweeping real estate downturn that followed the bursting of the housing bubble in 2006-07, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Although Philadelphia’s homeownership rate remains high among the nation’s 30 largest cities, the 7.1 percentage-point drop in owner-occupied units – from 59.3 percent to 52.2 percent, or by 47,082 – was surpassed only by Phoenix, which suffered record foreclosures and price declines when the market swooned, the Pew study shows.

Stagnant incomes, rising home prices, and tight credit, all products of the recession, have cut into owner-occupied numbers, the study showed.

In addition, young professionals who once were the chief source of first-time buyers are either wary of homeownership or burdened by student-loan debt.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/20140710_Homeownership_in_Philadelphia_tumbles__report_says.html#PLLsApVZLecmI3H2.99

Florida Investor Buys 7 Office Buildings At Parkway Center, Promises Upgrades

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

An investor from Florida who now owns seven of the 11 office buildings at Parkway Center in Green Tree says he wants to bring new life to the “tired buildings” there and work with other owners to upgrade the entire complex.

“We plan to begin upgrades and improvements in July,” said Robbie Oppenheim, Pittsburgh-born president of Market Street Real Estate Partners, who on Wednesday acquired the buildings with partner JDI Realty of Chicago from PWC Pitt LLC, headed by Lee Baierl.

Oppenheim declined to reveal the purchase price for the seven buildings — numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10. The buildings were listed for $49 million.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6196864-74/buildings-building-center#ixzz33DaYcHoG
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Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. Debuts New E-Zine In Collaboration With Major Borough Stakeholders

Momentum - One Good Things Leads to Another

 

WELCOME TO MOMENTUM, a quarterly publication from Partners for Success, a collaborative of organizations with the common objective of celebrating the stories that make us proud of Pottstown. We salute the residents, business owners, and other stakeholders making Pottstown better every day. In Momentum, you’ll discover stories about business development; recreation and healthy lifestyles; education; and arts and culture.

Founding Partners

To read the first edition, click here:  http://www.paidinc.org/momentum.php

Scroll down to Latest Edition:  Spring 2014 – Download (PDF file)

 

To visit PAID’s website, click here:  http://www.paidinc.org/

 

We give two Roy’s Rants thumbs up for the collaboration between stakeholders and for getting serious about marketing Pottstown to potential businesses and investors.  This is a welcome step forward!

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Philadelphia’s Luxury Rental Market Is Booming

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

The city’s for-sale housing market is experiencing fits and starts on a seemingly unending road to recovery. The luxury rental market, on the other hand, remains hot.

Yet another illustration of that comes Wednesday with the official opening of Dranoff Properties’ Southstar Lofts, an 85-unit, mid-rise rental project at Broad and South Streets that is heavier on one-bedrooms than the company’s fully leased 777 South Broad a few blocks away.

Developer Carl Dranoff considers the buildings complementary, and tenants at Southstar will get to use the roof deck at 777 and will share other amenities.

Rents will range from $1,595 to $3,395 a month, he said. About 63 percent of those leasing are singles in their 20s, and 35 percent list their occupation as medicine. Most earn $50,000 to $150,000, and 48 percent are moving from within six blocks.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140427_Phila__luxury_rental_market_is_booming.html#jYw0YTP7lsBDLXES.99

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BLIGHT & REDEVELOPMENT STUDY FOR THE BOROUGH OF POTTSTOWN, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA

Editor’s note: Here is some interesting reading for current Pottstown Borough residents, potential residents and business investors.  

http://www.genesishousing.org/_pdfs/pottstown_blight_study_2013_website.pdf

Merck Files Notice Of 500 Montco Layoffs

Location of Upper Gwynedd Township in Montgome...

Location of Upper Gwynedd Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The drugmaker Merck & Co. will lay off 500 people from its facility in West Point, Montgomery County, between Dec. 23 and Jan. 5.

Merck said on Oct. 1 that it would eliminate 8,500 jobs from its worldwide workforce beyond the 7,500 it had not yet cut from an earlier restructuring plan, but company officials were not specific about where and when.

Several big pharmaceutical companies with operations in the area are cutting jobs. Message boards devoted to Merck have been full of discussions about which units would lose people, but official public notice of the 500 job cuts at the West Point facility came because of a federal law called the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20131102_Merck_files_notice_of_500_Montco_layoffs.html#S8XhpVChWKLAmKe5.99

Investors Are Becoming Pittsburgh’s Biggest Home Buyers, Sellers

Locator map with the Mount Washington neighbor...

Locator map with the Mount Washington neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joe Calloway has bought 39 homes this year in the city of Pittsburgh, mostly in south Pittsburgh communities such as South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Arlington, Allentown, Beltzhoover and Mount Washington.

His Allentown company, RE 360, finds properties selling for below-market value, either by word of mouth, industry sources or courthouse auctions. He renovates about 20 percent of them for resale and rents the other 80 percent to city residents.

“The city of Pittsburgh is attractive to me because I grew up here,” he said. “I know the area, and it’s important to invest in what you know.”

While Mr. Calloway — who has purchased more than $1 million in single-family homes this year — is the largest buyer of investment real estate in the city, he is hardly alone. According to RealStats, a South Side-based real estate information service, real estate investors have bought 1,111 homes within the city limits so far this year for a total of $85.4 million.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/investors-are-becoming-pittsburghs-biggest-home-buyers-sellers-708060/#ixzz2i5m9hqt6

A Legal Blow To Sustainable Development

Official 2007 portrait of U.S. Supreme Court A...

Official 2007 portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This is so bad!

STRAFFORD, Vt. — LOST amid the Supreme Court’s high-profile decisions on affirmative action, voting rights and same-sex marriage was another ruling that may turn out to have a profound impact on American society.  The court handed down a decision on Tuesday that, in the words of Justice Elena Kagan, will “work a revolution in land-use law.”

While that may sound obscure, the decision in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District will result in long-lasting harm to America’s communities.  That’s because the ruling creates a perverse incentive for municipal governments to reject applications from developers rather than attempt to negotiate project designs that might advance both public and private goals — and it makes it hard for communities to get property owners to pay to mitigate any environmental damage they may cause.

The court’s 5-to-4 decision, with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. writing for the majority, arose from an order issued by a Florida water management district denying an application by Coy A. Koontz Sr. to fill more than three acres of wetlands in order to build a small shopping center.  The district made clear that it was willing to grant the permit if Mr. Koontz agreed to reduce the size of the development or spend money on any of a variety of wetlands-restoration projects designed to offset the project’s environmental effects.  Because Mr. Koontz declined to pursue any of these options, the district denied the permit.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/opinion/a-legal-blow-to-sustainable-development.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

Outside Investors Purchasing More Downtown Pittsburgh Sites

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pitt...

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, with the new corporate logo of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In one sense, Pittsburgh’s resurgence can be measured by its Downtown skyline — not so much by the names atop its skyscrapers but by those on the property deeds to them.

More and more, out-of-town investors are gobbling up prominent real estate Downtown, drawn by a host of factors, from high occupancy rates to the diversity of the local economy.

In fact, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review of high-profile building sales Downtown and on the North Shore since 2011 found that 10 of 13 have gone to out-of-town buyers, including such landmarks as the U.S. Steel Tower and the PPG Place complex.

Another three properties currently under agreement to be sold, including Liberty Center and the accompanying Westin Convention Center Hotel, also are being purchased by outside investors.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/outside-investors-purchasing-more-downtown-pittsburgh-sites-692796/#ixzz2X4r4GKrA

Reading Looks To Rewrite The Rules To Help Business

Contractors, developers and even city officials have complained for years that getting approvals and permits from City Hall is too complicated and takes too long.

Developer Alan Shuman, prodded recently by City Council, said it often takes him four weeks and longer to get permits in hand for many of his projects.

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer had campaigned on building a more business-friendly City Hall and told a business group in April that it often takes four to six weeks to issue a permit.

“Businesses jump down my throat for that,” he said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=484891

43 Apartments Planned For Pottstown Furniture Warehouse

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  While we 100 percent support any adaptive reuse projects in Pottstown, we are greatly concerned about the involvement of a low-income housing tax credit.  This project, if done correctly, could be a HUGE shot in the arm to this neighborhood and solidify the borough’s claim to be moving towards becoming an arts designation (which we 110 percent support). 

That being said, private sector investment is needed, not more glorified Section 8 housing.  In our humble opinion, this is the “easy way out”.  It might be harder to find private sector dollars but the payoff is greater.  Other communities are successfully finding investors who are converting old building into MARKET RATE apartments and condominiums.  I am all for affordable housing but any involvement of Section 8/low-income funding taints the project.

Pottstown needs to have a better opinion of itself and not settle for the first offer that falls from the sky.  Section 8 and low-income housing do not raise property values nor do they change people’s minds about Pottstown.  Somebody needs to be courageous and just say no.  Find another way.

POTTSTOWN — The moribund plan to transform the former Fecera’s furniture warehouse on Beech Street into artist loft apartments returned to borough council Wednesday night with new backers and a new twist.

Genesis Housing Inc., the non-profit agency which engineered the development of the former Jefferson School into senior rental housing and has rehabilitated dozens or blighted properties in the first ward into owner-occupied homes, is partnering with a Syracuse non-profit housing agency on a $12 million plan to develop the property into 43 apartments targeted toward artists.

The difference is in addition to securing an historic architecture tax credit for the project, the developers,   HousingVisions, are also seeking a low-income housing tax credit, the same kind sought in 2010 for the controversial Pearl senior housing proposal along Industrial Highway — and that raised a few eyebrows on borough council.

“I’m still not sold,” Borough Council President Stephen Toroney said. “This is the same tax credit that was sought by the Pearl Group and that was for a 55-and-older community and people still came out and protested.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130607/NEWS01/130609465/43-apartments-planned-for-pottstown-furniture-warehouse#full_story

Investors Could Get Tax Credits For Reading Projects

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lancaster-based Community First Fund announced Wednesday that it has received $15 million from the federal New Markets Tax Credit program enticing investors to bring jobs to low-income areas, including Reading.

“Those in the New Markets Tax Credit world know how big a deal this is,” Daniel Betancourt, fund president and chief executive, said at a news conference in the offices of Berks County Community Foundation, Third and Court streets.

Betancourt said the award will significantly increase investment in the region’s lowest-income communities, especially Reading.

The Community First Fund, which has an office at 505 Penn St., was among 85 organizations in the nation getting a share of $3.5 billion in this year’s round.  There were 282 applicants.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=474642

Playing With Philadelphia’s Tax Money

Editor’s note:  Here’s another reason they call Pottstown “little Philadelphia“.   Just change out Philadelphia with Pottstown.  Same problems, just a smaller scale but equally as devastating to the residents of both communities.

Philadelphia’s decades-long neglect of property-tax collections has been a disaster for public schools, the city budget, and typical taxpaying homeowners.

But the system does have its advantages for low-rent landlords, out-of-town speculators, and anyone else interested in playing property Powerball, a game where the objective is to pile up real estate in hope of hitting a gentrification jackpot, while keeping out-of-pocket expenses – like taxes – as low as possible.

Some are big winners, such as the investor who picked up three adjacent Northern Liberties lots in 1994 for a combined $16,000, skipped paying taxes on the lots for more than a decade, and made good on the debt only after flipping the parcels for $750,000 in 2010.

Such speculative windfalls are rare, but it’s not for lack of trying.  Of the roughly 100,000 tax-delinquent properties in Philadelphia, at least 57,500 are owned by investors, not occupants. These are parcels deeded to suburbanites and Floridians, developers and Brooklyn-based holding companies, small-time local speculators and real estate tycoons with dozens of properties to their name.

Read more:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/20130311_Playing_with_the_city_s_tax_money.html

Fitch Ratings Keeps US At Top ‘AAA’ Credit Rating

WASHINGTON — Fitch Ratings has retained the U.S. at its top ‘AAAcredit rating but also left the outlook negative, citing the failure of Congress and the Obama administration to forge an agreement on reducing the budget deficit.

Fitch says that uncertainty over federal tax and spending policies related to the so-called fiscal cliff “weighs on the near-term economic outlook” and raises the prospect of another recession.

A massive budget showdown could begin after the elections in November and stretch well into next year, despite the threat of the fiscal cliff – $500 billion in impending tax increases and spending cuts.

Fitch also says the burden of government debt on the economy will continue to rise and could hurt growth if an agreement isn’t reached on the deficit.