As Scranton Parking Garage Costs Soar, Demolition An Option

Maintaining Scranton’s five parking garages would cost $26 million over 40 years, while demolishing one or two of the older structures that need significant repairs could drop that figure substantially, according to a new analysis.

A June 3 report by Chicago-based consultant Desman Design Management titled “Parking System Due Diligence Market and Revenue Analysis” is the latest step in Mayor Bill Courtright’s plan to unload the Scranton Parking Authority’s five parking garages — Medallion, Casey, Connell, Electric City and Linden.

The aim is to “monetize” through privatization, either leasing or selling, the authority’s underused, high-debt parking garages that have 2,659 spaces, as well as the 1,479 city-owned parking meters. The goal is to reduce the amount of SPA debt the city guarantees and covers in annual bailouts.

The authority retained Desman to assemble various elements of the parking system for evaluation by potential bidders on a lease or sale.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/as-scranton-parking-garage-costs-soar-demolition-an-option-1.1896326

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Scranton Mayor: City Solid, Getting Stronger

In his first “State of the City” address since taking office 16 months ago, Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright delivered a hopeful, optimistic speech Friday at the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

Describing the state of the city as “solid and getting stronger every day,” Mr. Courtright said initiatives he, his administration and council are pursuing have the city turning the corner on decades of financial distress, mistakes and “embarrassments” of the past.

“In just over a year, we’ve been able to tell a different story about Scranton. A story of hope and optimism, backed up by real progress,” Mr. Courtright said.

For example, plans to unload the Scranton Parking Authority’s high-debt and under-used garages are advancing and going better than expected, he said, as the city met this week with six firms interested in acquiring them. The goal is to complete a transaction by the end of the year. Another goal is “responsible monetization” of the Scranton Sewer Authority through a sale or lease that this agency is pursuing.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-mayor-city-solid-getting-stronger-1.1873948

Downtown Bethlehem Association Creates App For One-Stop-Shopping For Restaurants, Stores And Parking

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Downtown Bethlehem? There’s an app for that.

The Downtown Bethlehem Association on Wednesday debuted its new app that puts information about local attractions, restaurants, stores, hotels, parking and events all in one place.

“It’s a way for allow people to find things in Bethlehem all in one place – on their smartphone,” said DBA President Neville Gardner, who owns Donegal Square and McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar at Main and West Walnut streets. “Bethlehem may be a historic town, but we’re definitely in the next millennium.”

The association has been working to develop the app for more than two years, Gardner said. Smartphones are increasingly being used in making plans, officials noted.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/11/downtown_bethlehem_association_2.html

Changing Skyline: Parking Garages Threaten To Wall Off Schuylkill’s East Bank

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philadelphia spent the last decade working out a single, knotty planning problem: How should the old industrial spaces on the Delaware waterfront evolve? The consensus was that vacant land would be developed to resemble the rest of the city, with walkable streets, a mix of uses, and lively ground floors. No one was naive enough to think such projects could be realized without parking garages, but the expectation was that the structures would not dominate the river.

It’s a shame the conversation was never extended to the city’s other riverfront, the Schuylkill, which has come alive since a trail park pushed into Center City.

Like the Delaware, the Schuylkill is dotted with tracts of empty land crying out for housing, offices, and retail. But while little new has been built on the city’s big river – save for the suburban-style SugarHouse Casino – the Schuylkill is now sizzling with likely projects.

Predictably, each of the three proposals would front the river with a large, unsightly garage. They range from One Riverside’s modest, one-story garage at Locust Street to NP International’s multilevel, mega-development at Cherry Street. If built as designed, they would turn the bustling Schuylkill waterfront into Philadelphia’s own Great Wall of Parking.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20140328_Changing_Skyline__Parking_garages_threaten_to_wall_off_Schuylkill_s_east_bank.html#FYw7GIe2AssxRvpe.99

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Reading Parking Authority Names Executive Director

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

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

The Reading Parking Authority on Wednesday hired Philadelphia’s former parking czar to take over as executive director and oversee the city’s garages and parking meters.

Patrick R. Mulligan, 47, of Baltimore will start May 6, more than seven months after the board fired former chief Lawrence H. Lee.

Mulligan will be paid $85,000 a year.

Acting Chairman Gary S. Wegman said he’s pleased with the depth of knowledge and experience Mulligan has in the field.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=472649

Businesses Worry Over Scranton’s Deepening Financial Crisis

Between sips of soda at Sal’s Pizza on Linden Street, Nick Noll recounted his time as a Scranton business owner.

His business, Keystone Granite and Marble, was on Diamond Avenue in Scranton but moved to Old Forge earlier this year as he saw deepening financial problems and grew tired of the business privilege tax.

“As soon as I moved to Old Forge I felt like I received a raise,” Mr. Noll said. “It no longer became a question of whether or not I should pay my taxes or take my family on vacation.”

Mr. Noll said the increase in the gross receipts tax proposed in the city’s revised recovery plan from 0.75 percent to 1 percent is “counterproductive” to bringing business back into the city.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/businesses-worry-over-deepening-financial-crisis-1.1354898