The Suburbs: Pottstown Is Worried Over Tax Credit Housing Developer Who Answers Few Questions

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  It appears others are closely watching what Pottstown Borough Council decides regarding this low-income tax credit project and we are pleased!

Up in Pottstown (that’s in MontCo for you folks who don’t know what lies beyond the City’s limits) is a blightfighter who runs Golden Cockroach, an activist fighting against substandard rental living conditions in rental apartments, vacancy and urban (yes, urban!) blight up in Pottstown.

A boro of only 22,000 people, Pottstown occupies a small 5 square mile area of the western corner of Montgomery County, bested by Norristown and Conshohocken in urban density.  Most of the town is middle income at the high end and lower end working class.  As an older PA boro with an industrial past, it has its share of rusty buildings and older housing stock.  Ranchers on large plots are few.  Twin porchfront rowhomes with postage stamp front yards, many.

Since the housing bubble burst 5 years ago Pottstown has seen an increase in cash buyer investors seeking to grab deeds and insert renters into properties as has happened in other PA towns like Bensalem where subprime mortgages existed.  Many of those investors are absentee, maintenance is less than spectacular, and residents are worried that if left unchecked, and combined with urban-industrial decay within the town, that could put Pottstown’s viability as a desirable place to live under fire if quality of life worsens.  No one wants to see Pottstown decay into Chester or see its tax base erode or flee.

Read more:  http://www.philadelinquency.com/?p=2866

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