We here at Roy’s Rants wholeheartedly support the Fecera’s project as the needed catalyst for revitalization in Pottstown Borough. One large project that is successfully completed will demonstrate to other developers and investors that the climate has changed. A large, empty building does nothing except breed blight and crime. A restored, well lighted and full building will transform a neighborhood. Council needs to approve this project for the betterment of Pottstown. Failure to do so will contribute to the downward spiral of this once great community.
Just across the Codorus Creek from the heart of York’s downtown, a steady line of traffic regularly passes through the 200 block of West Philadelphia Street, following the turn of the street uphill past smartly painted homes and storefronts.
Growing up in York more than three decades ago, Steve Billet knew the area colloquially as the “colonial block.” It was a place that had a good reputation and housed property that was a wise investment for owners, he said.
On a Monday in March, however, many of the cars that idled at a nearby stoplight would continue on West Philadelphia without stopping. The idea that the city has nothing to offer has plagued York’s image and dissuaded business owners for years, and many entrepreneurs have struggled to make their shop a destination.
Still, when Billet had an opportunity to purchase a building in the 200 block in 1999, he took it. And when he and his partner David Smith decided to drop out of the rat race — as Smith puts it — to switch careers and return to the city, they settled on the spot that Billet had bought a decade and a half before as the site of their new venture.
Hays School had been empty for 30 years when Bob Dagostino drove by one morning and saw the “For Sale” sign. He copied the number and called for a tour. At the time, his electronics business Downtown was outgrowing its third location.
“At our other place, [employees] sat an arm’s length apart,” said Chuck Roberts, vice president of Dagostino Electronic Services. “Bob brought me in look at the school and I said, ‘Why don’t we get a renovated space?’ and he said, ‘No, no, this is our headquarters.’ He had a vision.”
It often takes vision to remake a century-old school. Pittsburgh has scores of them, some in private hands, some long vacant, several converted into apartments and 19 still to be sold. Pittsburgh Public Schools has contracted with Fourth River Development to sell them.
The former Schenley High School in North Oakland sold last year for $5.2 million and is slated for luxury housing. McCleary School in Upper Lawrenceville sold last year for $410,000 to a residential developer. Morningside School has been approved for sale to the Urban Redevelopment Authority for $275,000, also for housing; negotiations are underway “as we speak,” said Patrick Morosetti, sales and leasing manager for Fourth River Development.
The Ambler Boiler House and the Arborcrest office campus are getting some high praise for jobs well done.
The two construction projects were among five recipients of the 2013 Montgomery Awards, sponsored by the Montgomery County Planning Commission Nov. 13.
Accoring to a Montgomery County press release, the awards are given to outstanding projects and their creators for the best planning and design in the county. The award is an acknowledgment of the high quality of work and the commitment of communities, organizations and professionals.
According to a press release, the Boiler House was the recipient of the award for “the successful revitalization and adaptive reuse of an historic industrial structure in a state-of-the-art office building that incorporates sustainable design. This transit-oriented project, once a brownfield site, recognizes Ambler’s industrial heritage while advancing the borough’s revitalization efforts and providing environmental and economic benefits to the community.”
Homewood‘s sense of place is eroding so fast that 184 homes have been razed since 2011 and another 232 are condemned. Residents are torn. They value the building stock that attests to better days, but blight is outpacing opportunities to save what’s viable.
Just in time for the neighborhood’s biggest investment in decades, Operation Better Block staff began a door-to-door campaign to motivate hundreds of residents to face this crisis by helping to plan housing strategies.
“Demolition was the only recourse people thought we had,” said Jerome Jackson, executive director of Operation Better Block. Even if it is, he added, people need information to be comfortable with that.
A neighborhood advocacy nonprofit since 1971, Operation Better Block initiated a resident-driven plan for the use of vacant land and buildings two years ago in a test area of 46 parcels near Pittsburgh Faison K-5. The school was a crucial reason to strengthen that area, which is also near the East Busway and the ripest area for investment.
Pottstown, PA, 4/23/2012 — Mosaic Community Land Trust is holding registration and orientation for new members of its community garden at 423 Chestnut Street on the following Saturdays: April 28, May 5, and May 12 from 9 AM to 12 PM at the garden. On May 5th gardeners will be able to choose the plants they would like in their own plot, and the plants will be delivered to the garden on May 12, which will be a day for planting.
There are plots still available for this season. Plot rates are $25 for households with incomes below $30,000; those with incomes above this level will pay $50. Groups and organizations can plant a plot for a flat $100.00 season fee. In addition to offering families a safe place to grow healthy, organic food, this fee includes the choice of plants, water on-site, the use of Mosaic tools, workshops, and advice from experienced gardeners. Children are welcome and the garden is available for field trips for students.
To apply and register for your plot or to set up a field trip, please contact Sue Repko at 609-658-9043 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Mary-Beth Bacallao Lydon at email@example.com.
MOSAIC Community Land Trust was established in 2011 and is a registered 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit organization. MOSAIC Community Land Trust provides permanently affordable housing and healthy living choices to people of modest means, and through education and participation, creates a vital community with a focus on arts and culture to stabilize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life in Pottstown.
When Buck Harris and his partner, Mike, bought a 145-year-old Italianate house to restore adjacent to Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood two decades ago, the neighborhood ambience included drug shootings and corner prostitutes.
“It was a war zone,” Harris says. “The neighborhood was in dramatic decline at the time. It was known as where you go to get heroin.”
Now, as Harris and other intrepid homeowners have gobbled up the vacant and foreclosed lots surrounding their houses over the years and worked to wipe out drug-related crime, the area has been transformed. Many of the nearly block-long lots, or “blots,” they have created look as if they were lifted from a verdant suburb, with mature trees and a wide expanse of lawn.
Harris’ neighborhood is just one example of how enterprising homeowners are changing the landscape in many depopulated cities, bringing the look of spacious suburbs to abandoned urban neighborhoods.
Read more: http://realestate.msn.com/inner-city-suburbs
While I was downtown today supporting Small Business Saturday, I was temporarily whisked away to the Mosaic Community Land Trust’s new digs at 10 South Hanover Street by Katy Jackson. Katy is one of the founding members of the Land Trust and she was eager to show me the progress they have made fixing up their new space.
The first floor is a revolving art gallery and office space for now. Future plans include renovating the second floor and using the art gallery space on the first floor for events in a coffee-house style setting. There are even plans to serve food. This is very exciting because having organized events will help draw people into the gallery and in turn support local artists and musicians.
Mosaic Community Land Trust supports the revitalization of Pottstown. To that end the Land Trust will begin restoring properties in town and reselling them to people looking for affordable housing. Mosaic’s plan also includes growing the arts community in Pottstown. Revitalization via the arts has a proven track record across our country. We have a fledgling arts community already and adding to their numbers will only hasten the rebirth of Pottstown. Removing blight and increasing the home ownership percentage in Pottstown will stabilize neighborhoods, reduce crime, increase property values and help reduce the tax burden.
We urge you to stop in and check out the art, learn more about Mosaic and see what you can do to help move Pottstown forward.