Center City Allentown High-End Apartments Renting Far Faster Than Expected, Developer Says

English: View of Allentown City from east side

English: View of Allentown City from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Developer J.B. Reilly has been building apartments for 25 years, but he’s never seen demand like he’s seeing now for his high-end apartments in Center City Allentown.

His company, City Center Lehigh Valley, announced Sept. 8 it was accepting deposits for 170 apartments in the under-construction Strata Luxury Flats at Four City Center. Two months later, almost half have deposits on them.

“I’ve been in the apartment development business my whole career and we’ve never experienced this kind of demand – even close to this kind of demand,” Reilly said Friday.

The interest in the apartments is tied to the new attention on Allentown’s downtown, Reilly said. In recent months, new restaurants, office space and a minor league hockey arena have opened, with Reilly leading much of the development.

Read more:

Changing Skyline: Subsidized Housing Deal May Benefit Developers More

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

You could probably fit every unit of affordable housing being built in Philadelphia today inside one of the fancy glass skyscrapers going up in University City, and still have a couple of floors left over. That’s not because the new towers are so immense, but because the city produces so little subsidized housing for the poor and working class.

It wasn’t always that way. From the 1950s through the Clinton years, the federal government financed thousands of units of affordable housing. Though the results weren’t always well-designed, the programs did at least ensure the poor had places to live. But in the last decade, federal money dried up and cities were left to their own devices. It’s no accident that wage stagnation has become a hot issue as low-cost housing has become harder to find.

So, as with many urban improvements these days, cities have begun to look to the private sector to pick up the slack. The strategy is called “inclusionary housing,” and it involves trading zoning bonuses for apartments.

Developers get to put up taller, denser towers. Cities get a bunch of units in the new buildings that can be rented at below-market rates. Low-wage workers get fabulous apartments with skyline views.


High Hopes For $38 Million Project In Pleasantville

Map of New Jersey highlighting Atlantic County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Atlantic County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. – This down-on-its-luck stepsister town to neighboring Atlantic City has struggled economically for decades, languishing without a redevelopment plan or the ability to attract private investment.

But a $38 million project that includes two apartment buildings and retail space on a vacant Main Street block is expected to set the cornerstone for economic growth and expanded development in the Atlantic County city, according to Jacqueline Amado-Belton, economic development director for the City of Pleasantville.

“We feel like we have borne the brunt of a lot of issues that have spilled over from Atlantic City over the years,” Amado-Belton said. “In terms of perception and other factors, it’s been a struggle and a challenge to get to this point.”

The Pleasantville City Center, expected to be completed by next summer, will add 135 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail space and will be bordered by Main Street, Washington Avenue, Milan Avenue, and South Second Street.


Blight Poses Challenges For Distressed Cities

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scranton is a city of 76,000 people with a housing stock largely built before 1940 for a population almost twice that number.

It has the blight to prove it.

As the financially strapped city struggles to combat blight and the host of ills it fosters, Scranton finds itself in a position common among many Rust Belt communities: many old buildings, too few people willing or able to keep them up and limited resources to press aggressively for a comprehensive solution.

The region’s other two major cities, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, are dealing with similar issues, though their circumstances don’t precisely mirror Scranton’s.

Read more:

York’s Northeast Neighborhood Residents Wonder What Impact Think Loud Will Have On Their Community

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

On a wooden table in Gregg Hardy’s kitchen are a handful of cherry tomatoes.

They come from the garden behind his East Walnut Street home that his wife tends, caring for fish in a small pond and cultivating an orange tree, where a single unripe fruit hung one day in August.

While she will spend a day coaxing flowers to grow, Hardy focuses his own labor on the interior — putting in bathrooms, widening door frames and shaping cabinets.

He bought his home for $15,000 in 2003, property records show. He said he put $20 down on it, and spent several years driving down from New York on weekends to fix it up. He is now entrenched in a neighborhood he believes has remade itself into an area families can call home.

Read more:

Dog Fighting In Pottstown: A Tragic Result Of Government Negligence…


Pottstown Borough Hall

Pottstown Borough Hall

Our scuz-busting friend, the Golden Cockroach, has more horrific news about the results of the absentee extractive investors who have taken over large numbers of properties in Pottstown.  These folks buy up homes for “cents on the dollar” and rent them to anybody who will pay their rent in “cash”, **wink, wink. The properties are not maintained and the tenants are left to run wild and terrorize their neighbors.

The typical absentee extractive investor lives in a large suburban home, in a township where mostly upper middle class white folk congregate.  They take their wads of “rental cash” and do “fun stuff” like take vacations to tropical locations with municipal employees (who also make wads of cash thanks to the overburdened taxpayers in Pottstown).  While these folks are sunbathing, and having drinks with little umbrellas in them, back at the ranch all hell is breaking loose.  OR when they aren’t sunbathing and having funky beverages south of the border, they are at home in their virtually crime-free suburban communities reading about Pottstown’s ills in the Mercury.

Meanwhile, Pottstown is falling apart and these rental properties are crumbling off their foundations. HOWEVER, unless “I” live next to a problem rental property it’s not my problem.  These properties somehow pass inspection, they are somehow issued occupancy permits and everybody is happy.  Well, except for the people who live in Pottstown and are being terrorized by these tenants who aren’t properly vetted before being allowed to occupy said rental properties.  But again, unless it directly impacts me, it’s not my problem.  RIGHT?

Apparently, this is the attitude emanating from Pottstown Borough Hall.  This attitude comes across loud and clear when you read the latest post from the Golden Cockroach.  You should be utterly incensed by the complete disregard for the residents of Pottstown.  This stunning information confirms what we have always thought.   The fact that it was said out loud by a municipal employee makes us sick.

The result of this blatant contempt for Pottstown is crime.  Evidently, we can now add dog fighting to the list of heinous crimes being perpetrated in Pottstown and ignored by the very folks who are paid to look after the interests of the taxpayers.  Why?  Because many municipal employees do not live in Pottstown and these problems do not impact their quality of life.  Ergo, it’s not my problem.  They can read the Mercury on their iPad while they sip their morning latte from the safety of their suburb.  After reading about “life in Pottstown” they can head into the office for another fun-filled day of work “screw over the taxpayer” behind bullet-proof glass.  We think that’s a game like “pin the tail on the donkey” but we aren’t 100 percent sure.  Can you hear them cackling as they drive over the borough line with their big fat paychecks?

So we have people with virtually no interest in seeing Pottstown revitalize running the show.  These same people are allowing absentee extractive investors to make large profits at the expense of the fine folks who do live in Pottstown (and who pay very high taxes for these stellar municipal services brought to you by people who don’t give a shit crap).

Crime is running rampant and no matter now many miniature golf courses you build, you are still putting lipstick on a pig.  Don’t get us wrong, miniature golf is fun and we expect to try it out soon, however there are far more important issues that need to be addressed.  CRIME and JOBS should be the TOP priority of the municipal government.  The job market should be high and crime should be low!  It’s ass-backwards in Pottstown!  It’s time for the taxpayers to say “enough” and hold these co-perpetrators accountable for Pottstown’s ruination.

Please take a few minutes to read Golden Cockroach’s latest post.  Please watch the video about the animal abuse and dog fighting if you haven’t already seen it.  The video is included in the post for your convenience.


A Must See Video About A Rental Unit In Pottstown – Contains Adult Language

Long Beach Islanders Eager To Show Off Rebuilt Businesses

Map of New Jersey highlighting Ocean County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Ocean County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The members of the iconic Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club were determined to open their new building before the start of summer, the second since Hurricane Sandy washed out their former home.

They got their certificate of occupancy Friday afternoon, just in time for a planned grand opening the next day, coinciding with an annual striper fishing tournament known as the LBI Cup.

On Sunday morning, the day after 500 people flooded the club’s new three-story headquarters, Vice Commodore Tim Irons walked around the bare rooms, proudly showing off the bathroom tiling and the views from the top floor.

“It’s completely paid off,” he said. “We just don’t have any furniture yet.”


Enhanced by Zemanta

Law Chases Carrick Landlord For Subpar Rentals

Locator map with the Carrick neighborhood in P...

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

Editor’s note:  All I can say is enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.

For months, a putrid mixture of storm water and raw sewage has pooled outside the town homes on Berg Place in Carrick, a small street tucked behind a row of apartment buildings on Brownsville Road (Update: County officials order tenants to vacate premises).

The modest yards in front of the homes are marred by deep pits covered in flimsy plywood, an incomplete effort to fix problems associated with an unrelated water leak. And on one day this week, more raw sewage soaked one of the front lawns with a child’s wagon and toy car nearby.

The problems don’t end there. Tenants said that at times during the winter, they had virtually no running water, especially after the landlord shut off their main water supply and rigged a hose to siphon water from the nearby apartment buildings. When the above-ground hoses froze, the water stopped flowing, forcing tenants to haul in water in buckets and old milk cartons to even flush a toilet.

“It just dripped,” said Diane Berner, 51, who stayed with her friend who lives in the complex earlier this year. “It was a waste of time to even stand there and fill up a bottle.”

Read more:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pittsburgh Renting Rates Rising Quickly

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)

If it seems as though rental prices in Pittsburgh have been in a bull market over the past several years, that’s because they have.

While large metro areas like New York and San Francisco have grabbed headlines for their sky-high rental prices, Pittsburgh’s rental market is actually rising at a faster rate than New York’s, according to a study from personal finance website NerdWallet.

“We were looking at growth rates, rather than cities with the highest rents, and Pittsburgh is in a rapid economic growth period now,” said Divya Raghavan, a senior analyst for NerdWallet in San Francisco. “While New York and San Francisco are already well-established top cities in the U.S., Pittsburgh is considered an up and coming city.”

Read more:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bridgeport Addresses Issue Of ‘Amateur Landlords’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

BRIDGEPORT, PA — Over the past year, many residents and landlords have complained at borough council meetings about overcrowding of and conditions at rental properties.

In response to these complaints, borough council has provided funds in the 2014 budget for a program to help resolve the issue of amateur landlords.

At its Feb. 11 meeting, council discussed hiring a third-party inspector to handle rental properties in the borough.

Read more:

Enhanced by Zemanta

In Downtown Scranton Residential Boom, No Sign Of Slowing

Picture 062Four years ago, there was no residential life along the unit block of Franklin Avenue. By the end of this year, more than 55 apartments could be located along Franklin, between Lackawanna Avenue and Spruce Street.

“It’s about quality of living,” former Mayor Chris Doherty said earlier this month before he left office. “I said from the beginning, fail or success, we will go after downtown living.”

Scranton building contractor and redeveloper Art Russo bought into Mr. Doherty’s concept and his latest downtown project is one of his largest.

He is constructing 21 apartments on the three upper floors at the Bittenbender Building, a four-story, 48,000-square-foot structure at 126-132 Franklin. A sports bar, seafood restaurant and speakeasy-themed jazz club will occupy the 9,000-square-foot first floor.

Read more:

Enhanced by Zemanta

FOX29 Investigates Local Property Manager

FOX29 investigative reporter Jeff Cole interviews Katy Jackson, a Pottstown civic activist, while trying to get to the bottom of why Affinity Property Management Company, formerly located on High Street in downtown Pottstown, owes their clients thousands of dollars.  The office closed in May.

To watch this segment, click here:

Wilkes-Barre Council OKs ‘One-Strike’ Rental Ordinance

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — One strike.  Two readings.  Three speakers.

Mayor Tom Leighton’s plan to crack down on problem rental properties in Wilkes-Barre passed a second and final reading during a special council session Thursday night attended by a handful of residents, of whom only three spoke about the “one-strike” amendment to the city’s rental ordinance.

The ordinance will allow officials to shut down a property for six months if landlords and tenants know of criminal activity on the premises and fail to alert authorities.  It will take effect Sept. 1.

“The intent is not to penalize landlords, but to increase dialogue,” said assistant city solicitor William E. Vinsko Jr., who drafted the legislation, which he called “another tool to curb drug activity and violence.”

Read more:

Landlords question Wilkes-Barre’s ‘One-Strike’ Rental Policy

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — A proposed ordinance to “get tough” on crime by targeting problem rental properties passed the first reading by City Council on Tuesday night, and drew a mixed response from residents and landlords.

The amendment that sets a “one-strike” limit for landlords or tenants who know of gun and drug crimes committed on the property still needs a second reading at council’s Sept. 12 meeting before it can be enacted 10 days later.

But landlord Chris Puma of Ashley cautioned against proceeding with the amendment and suggested that instead of “punishing the landlord” the city hire more police and code enforcement officers.

He presented a scenario in which the six-month shutdown of a property as stated in the amendment cuts off the revenue for a landlord who has no knowledge of his tenant’s criminal activity.  From there, the landlord conceivably can’t pay the taxes, the property ends up at a sheriff’s sale and the city loses tax revenue.

Read more:

Under The Gun: Increase In Crime In Norristown Can Be Traced To Economic Decline

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

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

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is Part One in a series examining crime in Norristown and possible answers to stem the tide.

NORRISTOWN — Renee Goldman remembers one of the sheer simplicities of Norristown’s golden age: leaving the door wide open on warm days.

She also remembers when crime — largely petty and non-violent, initially — slammed shut the door of her dad’s Main Street business and locked it for good.

“Eventually we went from keeping the door open when the weather was nice to keeping the door locked and opening it only when the customers came,” recalled Goldman, who began working at her father’s Custom Hearing Aids office in the 200 block of East Main Street as a teenager in the 1960s.

Back then she felt safe walking down to Woolworth’s on Main Street on whatever errand her dad, Henry Ginsberg, sent her on.

Read more:

State Legislators Respond To ACLU Lawsuit Against Norristown

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN — Rep. Mike Vereb (R-150th Dist.) and Rep. Todd Stephens (R-151st Dist.), along with Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman urged Norristown officials to repeal or modify its controversial nuisance ordinance to protect victims of domestic abuse and discussed possible legislation to ensure that those victims would be protected statewide at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

The ordinance, which is currently being challenged in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union, was adopted in 2008 and permitted the suspension or revocation of a rental license if the police are called to the property three times for disorderly behavior.

“For me, the most important part of today is speaking directly to the victims of domestic violence who are in the community,” said Ferman.  “I think it’s so important that they know that they can call the police.  They should call the police.  They should call for help.  We will not allow anything to stand in their way and we will be here to support them.”

“We’re here for victims, to let them know that we’re not going to allow any borough, municipal, or city ordinance get in the way of their access to help,” said Vereb.  “We should focus on the goal here.  The goal is to get the thugs off of the streets and out of the rental properties.”

Read more:

ACLU Sues Norristown Over Landlord Ordinance

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN — A federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Norristown ordinance that penalizes landlords for the alleged behavior of their tenants was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The Norristown ordinance penalized landlords and encouraged them to evict their tenants when the police are called to a property three times in four months for “disorderly behavior,” including responding to incidents of domestic violence.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP against the municipality, former Municipal Administrator David Forrest, Interim Municipal Administrator Robert Glisson, former Police Chief Russell Bono, Interim Police Chief Willie Richet and Code Enforcement Manager Joseph Januzelli.

“We are planning to file a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent Norristown from enforcing the December 2012 ordinance while the case is pending,” said Sara Rose, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania.  “We hope we will have a hearing soon.  We hope this will be resolved quickly.”

Read more:

For Shame, Lousy Landlords

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)

Editor’s note:  Thumbs UP!

That’s what they’re doing in Pittsburgh.

City council voted recently to reinstate a public-shaming program aimed at irresponsible landlords.

The new law requires the city’s Bureau of Building Inspection to identify the 10 most dilapidated structures and the Department of Public Works to put up signs with the owners’ names, addresses and phone numbers.

Under the “Operation Red” program, the signs will say, “Don’t Come Here.  Don’t Invest Here.”

The signs are intended to shame landlords, but some critics predict they will embarrass tenants more.  Other critics say the signs may hasten the demise of particular streets or neighborhoods.

Read more:–lousy-landlords.html#ixzz2Fz0gnkXC

Pottstown Borough Authority Adopts New Policy In Wake Of Water Theft Case

POTTSTOWN,PA — If a silver lining could be said to exist in the case of the landlord accused of stealing borough water at multiple properties, it could be said that it brought the problem to the attention of the authorities.

Or, in this case, the Pottstown Borough Authority.

In June, landlord Frank McLaughlin of East Coventry was arrested  by Pottstown police and charged with theft of services after devices designed to by-pass water meters were found inside multiple properties he owned.

That case is still working its way through the courts, but the borough authority’s board wasted no time in acting at its Nov. 27 meeting and adopting a policy designed to minimize the loss once such a by-pass device has been discovered.

Read more: