Lancaster City Alliance Economic Development Plan Looks At Whole City

The Lancaster City Alliance wants to see $1 billion in private investment in the city over the next 15 years.

It’s one of the many goals — both specific and broad — of the economic development strategic plan the alliance put together to foster the city’s growth over the next 10-15 years.

The plan will be released to the public Thursday evening at the Ware Center.

Bob Shoemaker, Alliance president, and Marshall Snively, its executive vice president, talked with LNP’s editorial board about the year-long process on Thursday.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lancaster-city-alliance-economic-development-plan-looks-at-whole-city/article_6698547a-0bc7-11e5-b611-8b51c7e97c34.html

On Ridge Avenue Progress Would Go By The Initials PHA

Editor’s note:  This could be a game changer if it can be pulled off.  Hoping it is a success.

From Bruce Webb’s chair, pulled to the entryway of his record and cassette store on Ridge Avenue, the decay is inescapable. Across the street, a faded sign for Irv’s Meat Market & Delicatessen boasts, “Home of the Giant Hoagie.” Next door, Ahn’s Fresh Fish & Produce is for sale.

Both stores are vacant, and have been for years.

One recent day, Webb saw two younger men photographing the crumbled Irv’s storefront. Speculators, Webb dubbed them.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Webb, 81, said. “Change is coming.”

The source of that proposed change to a once-vibrant business corridor that stretched from Girard College to Cecil B. Moore Avenue is an unlikely one: the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150603_On_Ridge_Avenue_progress_would_go_by_the_initials_PHA.html#GVbsus8XvyomgfYd.99

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

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

Homegrown Middle Class: A Neighborhoods Policy For Philadelphia

To John Kromer the city’s persistent poverty is best tackled at the neighborhood level. In a four-part series of commentaries Kromer, an urban housing and development consultant and former city housing director, will explore different policy interventions the next administration can deploy to reduce poverty, stabilize neighborhoods, and finance anti-blight work. Kromer lays the foundation with this first installment:

Mayoral and City Council candidates rarely have to take strong positions on neighborhood issues because other topics, such as taxes, crime, schools, and drugs, are more likely to attract voter interest when presented in a citywide, rather than neighborhood-specific context. Given all the demands of a hectic campaign season, most candidates don’t bother to bring forward substantive proposals for improving the condition of Philadelphia neighborhoods until after the elections.

The lower-priority status of neighborhoods as a campaign issue is particularly unfortunate, because the city’s biggest problem—the persistently high level of poverty in Philadelphia—can only be solved at the neighborhood level.

Organizing a neighborhoods policy that can be effective in reducing poverty levels is doable but complicated. Doing so requires thinking about existing strengths and weaknesses and future opportunities in a new way and seeking to obtain political buy-in for a new approach immediately. Advocates for fundamental policy changes can’t afford to wait until after the inauguration ceremony, after the appointment of planning and development officials, and after the presentation of the new administration’s first budget. Anyone who’s serious about planning to significantly reduce poverty during the next city administration needs to begin now.

Read more:

http://planphilly.com/eyesonthestreet/2015/03/16/homegrown-middle-class-a-neighborhoods-policy-for-philadelphia

McKeesport Backs Effort To Rebuild Housing In Seventh Ward

McKeesport soon may have two new homes built in the city’s Seventh Ward cultural and educational district — and perhaps more after that.

City council Wednesday gave “unqualified support” to ACTION-Housing Inc.’s requests for funding for two homes on space cleared near the Twin Rivers school complex.

“ACTION-Housing will act as a partner with the city in the development and sale of the two new homes,” Mayor Michael Cherepko wrote in a letter dated Feb. 27 to Allegheny County’s Department of Economic Development.

That department handles a housing development fund and affordable housing trust fund that could be part of a mix of funding sources the nonprofit will pursue.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/7898583-74/housing-mckeesport-action#ixzz3TcnnpAo8
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McKeesport OKs Taking Vacant Homes Via Eminent Domain

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

McKeesport is expanding its vacant property recovery program to include parcels with structures.

Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the transfer of 10 properties to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of McKeesport through eminent domain. Parcels include empty lots and those with houses on them: 2718 Grandview Ave.; 621 Versailles Ave.; 1106 Ohio St.; 2105 Harrison St.; 2701 Riverview Ave.; 415, 417, 421 and 423 Twenty-Seventh Ave.; and 281 Rockwood St.

“This is another way to tackle the blight problem we have in the city,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “This process has typically been used to acquire vacant land adjacent to other properties. We’re now opening it to properties with structures on them when the purchaser has a plan.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/6882351-74/properties-vacant-ave#ixzz3F0tJF2yD
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Neighborhood Allies Names Innovator As First President

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neighborhood Allies has named as its first president the nationally recognized innovator behind revitalization efforts in Youngstown, Ohio.

Presley Gillespie begins his work in mid-May with the nonprofit that established this year from the dissolution of the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development.

Mr. Gillespie founded the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. five years ago. It was that city’s first such entity and it grew from a $200,000 start-up into a $3.1 million force behind housing rehabilitation and green enterprise, including the Iron Roots Urban Farm, a commercial enterprise on a solar-powered campus with a demonstration kitchen, job training workshops and a community loan fund for low- and moderate income home buyers.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/04/17/Neighborhood-Allies-names-innovator-as-first-president/stories/201404170138#ixzz2z9oBG3S0

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Clarke Unveils Plan For Affordable Housing In Gentrifying Philly Neighborhoods

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

Council President Darrell Clarke today unveiled a plan to build 1,500 affordable housing units in gentrifying neighborhoods like Francisville, Point Breeze and Mantua by redeveloping city-owned vacant land or tax-delinquent properties.

One thousand of the units will be rentals and would take advantage of two underused financing tools, Clarke said: operational subsidies for affordable housing from the Philadelphia Housing Authority and a tax credit from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

The city would also need to issue a $100 million bond to be paid for by the Housing Trust Fund, which currently supports other programs.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/Clarke-unveils-plan-for-affordable-housing-in-gentrifying-neighborhoods.html#o1ssZ08Syqt3eBBK.99

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Allentown Planners Warm To Cottage Houses Proposed At Former Montex Plant

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

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

A developer proposing a community of cottage-style houses at the former Montex Textiles plant in Allentown hopes to start working on the homes by the summer.

The 52-home complex, first proposed last year, emphasizes shared community green spaces and pedestrian-friendly streets to encourage a “front-porch culture” among neighbors.

The Allentown Planning Commission reviewed the sketch plan for the Sixth and Cumberland streets project today, and although a final vote will be held in the future, the early feedback was generally favorable.

“I think it’s a refreshing approach,” commission Chairman Oldrich Foucek said of the project, which is called Trout Creek Cottages.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/03/allentown_planners_warm_to_cot.html

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Allentown Mayor Announces Plans To Improve Poorest Neighborhoods

English: City of Allentown

English: City of Allentown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced an initiative today to make health and safety improvements in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

The city has committed $2.5 million for such Center City improvements and has asked the business community to match or exceed that amount in donations.

Working with the Allentown School District, the city plans to focus on blight remediation, housing redevelopment, home ownership and streetscaping projects.

“I believe Allentown will become a beacon of hope and an economic model for redevelopment (that) can be replicated across the state and across the country,” Pawlowski said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/03/allentown_mayor_announces_plan.html

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Citizens Action Committee For Pottstown To Give Presentation To Borough Council And Codes, February 20th

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

The Citizens Action Committee will be giving a presentation to Pottstown Borough Council and the codes and infrastructure departments about a wonderful program that has been implemented in sections of Utah and has proven success in reducing crime and blight in communities, holding landlords accountable, and spurring community revitalization and positive growth.  The program is called The Good Landlord Program, some basic details of it are linked below.  Please make every effort to attend this meeting and show your support of bettering YOUR town! Ears are opening at council and we need to make out presence and interest known!

The presentation will be delivered THIS THURSDAY, February 20th at the Codes/Infrastructure meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Borough Hall.  Take an interest and be part of the solution!

http://www.communityprogress.net/filebin/pdf/toolkit/UtahHousingCoalition_WhatIsTheGoodLandlordProgram.pdf

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Brian O’Neill: Blight-Ridding Bill In Pittsburgh Shows Plenty Of Potential

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drive down Hamilton Avenue or its side streets in Homewood and you’ll see a whole lot of not there anymore.

City Council is trying to hash out a plan to “land bank” the acres of vacant and boarded-up properties the city controls so they can be cleared for sale. That would take in about half of Homewood and almost half the Hill District.

When I asked Councilman Ricky Burgess, who represents Homewood, if he could give me a quick tour of the problem sites, he said, “You don’t need me. I’m dead serious. Drive down Hamilton Avenue and drive around at your leisure. It’s so bad … it’s breathtaking.”

He was right. It came as advertised.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/brian-oneill/2014/01/26/Brian-O-Neill-Blight-ridding-bill-in-Pittsburgh-shows-plenty-of-potential/stories/201401260059#ixzz2reCwstxI

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As Scranton Mayor, Doherty Leaving, His Mark Affixed

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

For an evaluation of Mayor Chris Doherty’s 12 years in the top city job, listen to his chief critic.

“Overall, the mayor did a very good job. He had a vision for the city and, by and large, I think he fulfilled that vision,” city council President Janet Evans said.

This is the same Janet Evans who spent the better part of her 10 years as a councilwoman ripping Mr. Doherty for one shortcoming or another at weekly council meetings.

Not that Mrs. Evans is done criticizing. She still thinks Mr. Doherty borrowed too much money, should have negotiated contracts with the city’s police and firefighter unions instead of fighting a losing and costlier arbitration battle and needed, in his later years, more experienced cabinet members.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/as-mayor-doherty-leaving-his-mark-affixed-1.1608177

Ross Firm Strives To Make ‘Pittsburgh Neighborhoods Viable Again’

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Josh Adamek and Scott Hastings believe their work is a form of neighborhood-building.

“A lot of these properties are distressed, so they aren’t worth anything,” Adamek said of the houses they are renewing. “With some work, they are homes and they help the tax base.”

Adamek is president and Hastings is vice president of Synergy Capital in the Perrysville section of Ross. The 3-year-old real estate development and investment firm is renovating homes in what Adamek calls “trendy neighborhoods” such as Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and the South Side.

“They are doing quality work,” said Aspinwall architect Susan Tusick, who has worked with the pair on several projects. “They are trying to make these city neighborhoods viable again.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/realestate/5011466-74/adamek-hastings-homes#ixzz2lghMlszE
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Philadelphia Could Make History With Land Bank Plan

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighti...

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighting planning districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe City Councilman Bobby Henon said it best on Thursday: “Right now, we have opportunity to make historic changes.”

Henon, chairman of Council’s Public Property Committee, was talking about the bill to create a land bank.

It’s a system Atlanta, Cleveland, St. Louis, and other cities have adopted and that supporters say could help cure the blight haunting many Philadelphia neighborhoods.

But with history at stake, the proposal seems stuck

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20131125_Philadelphia_could_make_history_with_land_bank_plan.html#u0ZlRfmlg53GFGwF.99

Mosaic Community Garden Wins Excellence In Planning And Design Montgomery Award

teacher-lauraThe Mosaic Community Garden, located in Pottstown Borough, received a 2013 Montgomery Award for creative vision, successful collaboration, strong community involvement, and positive neighborhood impact. This popular garden offers an attractive gathering place for residents to grow a variety of produce and learn about healthy living.

To read the entire article and view the pictures, click here to open the PDF file: 2013 Montgomery Awards

Philadelphia Council Committee Says Yes To A Land Bank

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

After years of talking the talk about getting a land bank in Philadelphia, where blight scars entire neighborhoods, City Council started Monday to walk the walk.

On a 6-1 vote, Council’s Committee on Public Property and Public Works approved a resolution to establish a land bank. The bill still needs a vote of the full Council.

If it approves, Philadelphia would become the largest city with a land bank. Land banks streamline the process for rescuing blighted property, whether by homeowners who want to turn a vacant lot next door into a garden or developers who hope to buy clusters of houses to make way for a major project.

One expert said Philadelphia was better equipped than some cities with land banks, such as Flint, Mich.; Cleveland; and St. Louis.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20131029_Phila__Council_committee_says_yes_to_a_land_bank.html#86b2DVYsKXDDfbXV.99

Changing Skyline: PHA, Homeowners In Stalemate Over Plans For Empty Public-Housing Tower

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

Kimberly Mathis put up with plenty when the public-housing tower that shadows her little Germantown street was inhabited, but things got worse after the Philadelphia Housing Authority emptied the apartments in 2011 in preparation for demolition.  The drug dealers, who had done a brisk trade inside the Queen Lane high-rise, quickly shifted business to the sidewalks below.  They even dragged a set of bleachers to a spot across from Mathis’ house, which she bought from Habitat for Humanity and shares with a disabled daughter.

That was the last straw.  Furious, Mathis says, she grabbed an ax and proceeded to hack the bleachers into firewood.  The dealers scattered like so many roaches, taking up new positions a block away.  She says her stretch of Priscilla Street has been dealer-free ever since.

If only getting rid of the notorious Queen Lane tower were as simple.

In the two tumultuous years since PHA announced plans to replace the graceless, 16-story misfit with 55 rental houses, the agency’s relationship with neighborhood homeowners has gone from bad to worse.  For a while, it seemed that the project would enable PHA, which is still recovering from the Carl Greene scandal, to showcase a gentler, more collaborative style. Instead, the agency now finds itself in the position of ramming through a problematic design.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130816_Changing_Skyline__PHA__homeowners_in_stalemate_over_plans_for_empty_eyesore.html#VDGH3TPO8jgUeyys.99

Reading Officials Anticipate Announcement Of Funding For Downtown Project

Picture 533Reading officials are hoping that a visit Wednesday from the state’s community and economic development secretary will result in millions of dollars in grant money to build a thriving business district downtown.

City officials are anticipating that the state has accepted the city’s application to be designated as a Keystone Community, which would provide access to economic development-related funds.

They say they haven’t been given the final word, but city officials said state Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker is coming to Reading to make an announcement Wednesday.

“We’re hoping that’s part of the reason why he’s coming,” Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said Monday.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=502229