Changing Skyline: Could Haddon Township Be Cool As Collingswood?

Editor’s note:  This is a very good article about how to revitalize an urban walkable community. Maybe some of the Pottstown leadership might take 5 minutes and read something constructive on how to bring about revitalization.  A simple phone call to either of these communities might provide invaluable information.  People like to share their successes!

For years, planners and residents have been trying to understand why Haddon Township isn’t more like Collingswood, the millennial enclave that is South Jersey’s answer to Fairmount and East Passyunk. Situated side by side in Camden County, the two towns are old-school commuter suburbs, with small house lots, good sidewalks, and great transit to Center City. They even share a main street, Haddon Avenue, which runs through the center of both.

The pair are models for what smart-growth advocates call walkable urbanism, but Collingswood’s downtown is by far the buzzier place. You can stroll for blocks along its part of Haddon Avenue, poking into vintage stores, stopping for coffee, enjoying an al fresco meal at a BYOB. In the evenings, it’s common to see pedestrians toting a wine caddy or pushing a stroller.

In Haddon’s downtown, known as Westmont, you might not see any pedestrians for blocks.

Westmont is a frustrating example of potential unrealized. Like Collingswood, it boasts a burgeoning restaurant scene and a weekly farmers’ market. It has some great blocks filled with early 20th-century storefronts that would look at home on Passyunk Avenue. But those destinations are just lonely islands in a stream of dreary strip malls and parking lots.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20150529_Changing_Skyline__Could_Haddon_Township_be_cool_as_Collingswood_.html#fXSPdB7XQKlcWW7o.99

Potential Face-Lift In Store For Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square And Its Fountain

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Something’s shaping up on Public Square.
 
During Tuesday’s work session, Wilkes-Barre City Council will hear a resolution allowing city officials to enter into an agreement for the rehabilitation of Public Square, with the downtown hub’s long-defunct water fountain as one of the potential project’s main focuses.
 
Andrew LaFratte, municipal affairs manager, said the administration applied for a grant in December through the National Resource Network, an organization that provides assistance to cities facing economic challenges. The creation of the network was at the core of the Obama Administration’s “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” initiative, enacted in 2012 to spark development in ailing communities with help from the federal government.
 
To be considered eligible for assistance, cities must have over 40,000 residents and must meet one of three criteria, including a 2013 annual average unemployment rate of 9 percent or more, a population decline of 5 percent or more between 2000 and 2010, or a poverty rate of 20 percent or more.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153665740/

Penn State Wilkes-Barre Grant Will Help Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber Expand Business Services

LEHMAN, PA — Penn State Wilkes-Barre will provide a $50,000 block grant to the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce to expand business services in the Innovation Center.

The grant is the first step in acquiring funding to renovate a portion of the Innovation Center for the development of the Innovation Squared Project, including an entrepreneurial and business training lab.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre has become a hub for entrepreneurs, with the Innovation Center housing 14 businesses, Wilkes University’s Small Business Development Center and Wilkes University’s Allen P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise.

The Innovation Squared Project will continue to fuel local entrepreneurship with a multi-faceted program designed to create high-wage e-commerce jobs, revitalization of downtown and workshop, according to the press release.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/business-local-news/153616357/PSU-grant-helps-chamber-expand-business-services

In The Lead: Carnegie / The Comeback Continues

Hans and Virginia Gruenert wanted to start a theater company when they lived in New York City. That’s where you’d do something like that.

But Off the Wall Theater Co. was destined to be born in Western Pennsylvania when Mr. Gruenert’s work brought the couple here in 2007. And after five years in Washington, Pa., they found a better fit in Carnegie.

Their decision happened to mesh with the borough’s trajectory of late.

The economic doldrums that gripped the region for years didn’t miss Carnegie. Then in 2004, when Chartiers Creek overran the business district as a remnant of Hurricane Ivan, dozens of businesses were damaged and many did not return.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/in-the-lead-2015/reports/2015/05/14/In-The-Lead-Carnegie-The-comeback-continues

Braddock’s Backers See Lots Of Potential In Community’s Future

When talking about Braddock, Molly Rice and Jeffrey Carpenter avoid the word “revitalization.”

The term, they say, implies what already exists in the community isn’t vital, and, therefore, doesn’t apply to the historic town.

“Braddock isn’t what you might think it is. There are so many elements and varieties of colors and layers and things to see,” says Rice, a playwright who’s working with Carpenter’s Bricolage Production Company and Real/Time Interventions to bring her “Saints Tour” immersive theater experience to Braddock in May and June.

The show is one of many efforts to draw outsiders in while the community continues to move forward from its unstable past.

Read more: http://triblive.com/aande/moreaande/8147634-74/braddock-sousa-theater#ixzz3ZrLDNYdB
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Hazelwood: Almono Gives Neighborhood A Shot At Recovery

Salvation sits just across the railroad tracks from Alex Bodnar’s Hungarian restaurant on Second Avenue in Hazelwood.

It doesn’t look like much now, just acres and acres of vacant land, graded but idle. But the redevelopment potential of the 178-acre site has raised the hopes of the struggling city neighborhood.

“The good Lord is answering my prayer,” Mr. Bodnar beamed as he stood in the kitchen of his restaurant preparing a bowl of goulash.

For much of the last century, the Monongahela riverfront site has been closely tied to the neighborhood’s fortunes. For decades, the massive coke works that dominated the land brought prosperity. Jobs were plentiful and Second Avenue teemed with grocery stores, shops and restaurants.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/in-the-lead-2015/reports/2015/05/11/In-The-Lead-Hazelwood-Almono-gives-neighborhood-a-shot-at-recovery/stories/201505140090

Royal Square Development Scores More Stores For Downtown York City

It isn’t supposed to be official yet, but a map of the Royal Square district in downtown York includes four new businesses expected to open later this year.

The map of the district was being distributed Sunday at district businesses during the annual Olde York Street Fair.

Dylan Bauer, the vice president of real estate development for the company, said the maps were not supposed to be released yet, but that he would soon be able to comment on the new businesses.

Read more:

http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_28089775/royal-square-development-scores-more-stores-downtown-york

Lancaster Businesses Find CRIZ Paperwork Cumbersome, Time-Consuming

Downtown business people say they support Lancaster’s City Revitalization & Improvement Zone, or CRIZ.

But boy, they sure wish the paperwork were less of a hassle.

“The process is very painful,” said David Leaman, senior manager of finance for the Isaac’s restaurant chain, which has its headquarters and one of its restaurants in the CRIZ.

Moirajeanne FitzGerald, who owns Here to Timbuktu on North Prince Street, says, “The CRIZ paperwork is cumbersome. The directions are difficult to understand.”

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/city-businesses-find-criz-paperwork-cumbersome-time-consuming/article_f9428c5e-f5cf-11e4-a572-83e1416c6222.html

Progress 2015: Wilkes-Barre, Pittston Lead Charge In Revamping Downtown Ecomomic Atmosphere

Shopping outside from store to store has almost become a thing of the past in some areas. But don’t tell that to downtowns in the Wyoming Valley, especially Wilkes-Barre and Pittston.

Downtown shopping in both communities is thriving thanks to the advancements each city has made over the past several years. Couple that with the excitement and enthusiasm of business owners and residents and youv’e got a recipe for success. The success in downtown Wilkes-Barre starts with Public Square.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association President John Mayday, who is a resident of South Wilkes-Barre and does all of his shopping in the downtown area, said the excitement and enthusiasm is something he hasn’t seen before. And it can only get better, he said.

“New businesses are constantly moving in,” he said. “Our mission is to create the opportunities for our customers and residents to come downtown. They’re been absolutely well-received by the public.”

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/business-home_top-local-news/152539268/Downtowns-looking-up

Study: Pittsburgh’s Network Of Riverfront Parks Contributes To Boom In Development

DSC01818Pittsburgh’s riverfront parks system is not only a haven for rest, relaxation and recreation but an economic powerhouse that has helped to generate billions of dollars in development over the past 15 years, a study has found.

In that time, the $130 million invested in the 13-mile Three Rivers Park has helped to produce nearly $4.1 billion in development on and near the riverfront, according to the study by Sasaki Associates, a Massachusetts-based architectural and planning firm.

In addition, the study, commissioned by Riverlife and to be released today, determined that since 2001, property values along that stretch have jumped by 60 percent compared with 32 percent in the rest of the city.

“The pattern in Pittsburgh and in other cities across the country is clear: properties with close proximity to high quality park infrastructure increase in value more than properties that do not,” the report stated.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/05/07/Study-Pittsburgh-s-network-of-riverfront-parks-contributes-to-boom-in-development/stories/201505070094

Easton To Get More Apartments After Two Projects Turn To Office Space, Mayor Says

As Downtown Easton began its resurgence in recent years, first came nighttime foot traffic from people going to restaurants.

After the Pomeroy’s Lofts opened in the 300 block of Northampton Street, that added to the evening surge on the city’s sidewalks and into the city’s bars.

The Crayola Experience on Centre Square has for years provided a daytime tourist presence, and new retail locations and the farmers market have put some feet on the streets during daylight.

When Pomeroy’s developer Mark Mulligan bought the Wolf Building on North Second Street for conversion to apartments after Northampton County moved its human services operation to Bethlehem Township, the daytime/nighttime equation seemed to slide further out of balance.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2015/05/easton_to_get_more_apartments.html

Wilkes-Barre, Scranton Advance In The America’s Best Communities Competition

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Scranton and Wilkes-Barre have been announced as quarter-finalists in the America’s Best Communities competition.

Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel — the competition’s sponsors — today announced that the two cities are among the 50 quarter-finalist communities that now have six months to complete their revitalization plans and compete for up to an additional $3 million to bring their ideas to life.

America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition is a $10 million initiative to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns and cities. Each community will receive $50,000 to develop comprehensive strategies to accelerate the revival of their local economies and improve the quality of life in their communities.

“I’m proud to congratulate our neighbors in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre for advancing in the America’s Best Communities competition,” said Elena Kilpatrick, vice president and general manager of Frontier. “This is also a great opportunity for Northeast Pennsylvania as a region to benefit from everyone coming together to implement plans that will enhance the total Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area.”

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/153200376/

Wilkes University Breaks Ground On $1 Million Campus Gateway Project

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Wilkes University is on a mission.

The product of a 20-member committee, the university’s Gateway to the Future Strategic Plan was launched two years ago to stake out pathways for meeting future challenges.

That proposal took a literal spin Thursday, as university and elected officials broke ground on a $1 million walkway project to connect the campus with the heart of downtown Wilkes-Barre, the latest endeavor in the six-year plan to chisel a traditional residential campus out of the Diamond City’s urban landscape.

Within the last year, the university has pledged more than $30 million in upgrades to the campus, including a $33 million science center and an additional $3 million in renovations to the University Center at 169 S. Main St., the future site of the of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news-news/153093061/Wilkes-launches-$1M-gateway

Community College Of Allegheny County Puts $22M Into Building Renovations At North Side Campus

Some buildings at Community College of Allegheny County’s Allegheny Campus in the North Side are showing their age, which is prompting a $22 million renovation.

One of the goals of the Ridge Avenue Revitalization Project is for students to come to brighter, more modern spaces, said Donna Imhoff, president of the Allegheny Campus.

“We want them to have a really positive experience,” she said.

The three-phase revitalization project will include work at the Physical Education Building, West Hall and the Foerster Student Services Center.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/8082667-74/building-student-center#ixzz3Xs5iolp9
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Hazleton Alliance Predicts Revitalized Downtown With Strategic Plan Completion

HAZLETON, PA — If the strategic plan for the continued revitalization of downtown Hazleton becomes a reality, the planner believe Broad Street will again be filled with shoppers, students, employees and neighbors, bringing fresh blood, an improved streetscape and a much needed increase in economic activity.

The five-year plan, which outlines specific strategies for achieving goals, was finalized last week after nearly a year of meetings, surveys and pubic input.

Krista Schneider, executive director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, the non-profit organization which commissioned and coordinated the effort, credits its Board of Directors, area leaders and Hazleton residents for their support of the project and willingness to “think outside of the box” when it comes to the city’s future.

Schneider said the effort reflects goals directed by Pennsylvania’s Main Street Program, a four-pronged approach that includes organization, promotion, restructuring and design.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/153007106/

Wilkinsburg Tour To Highlight Blight In Hopes Of Spurring Redevelopment

It’s a home tour visitors don’t typically take: overgrown gardens leading to homes with boarded-up windows, peeling paint and broken stairs.

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation and a group of Carnegie Mellon University students hope to highlight hidden beauty in the borough and reframe how people see vacant properties. The students conceived the idea for a Vacant Home Tour on May 9 as a way to address blight.

They’ll walk people through the history of five vacant properties in Wilkinsburg that could be prime candidates for restoration.

At each house, volunteer docents from the neighborhood, who researched the homes’ histories and owners, will present old photos or documents to show the houses in their heydays, said Marlee Gallagher, communications and outreach coordinator for the CDC.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/8083071-74/wilkinsburg-tour-properties#ixzz3XCZ490tS
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Bethlehem Approves 30-Unit Apartment Complex Off Elizabeth Avenue

The Bethlehem Planning Commission on Thursday approved construction of 30 apartments on two vacant parking lots off East Elizabeth Avenue.

Peron Development hopes to start construction on the three-story apartment building at Chelsea Avenue and East Greenwich Street within 90 days, company Director of Development Rob de Beer said.

Peron also is about to start on the construction of 110 apartments on East Third Street on the South Side.

“There’s that much significant interest for living in Bethlehem and we want to meet that demand,” de Beer said.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/04/bethlehem_approves_30-unit_apa.html

Montco Commissioners Kick Off Second Phase Of Lafayette Street Extension Project

NORRISTOWN, PA – The first phase has been completed, and now the second phase of a road project that will eventually connect Norristown to the Pennsylvania Turnpike will begin.

Despite the cold on Wednesday, the Montgomery County commissioners broke ground on the $12.9 million second phase of the project, which will extend Lafayette Street to Diamond Avenue in Plymouth Township. The second phase will also reconstruct and widen Diamond Avenue from the Pennsylvania Turnpike bridge to the Norristown border at Ross Street.

“Many of us were here together months ago when we kicked off phase one of the Lafayette Street extension project. Today we’re here to talk about ramping up phase two of the Lafayette Street extension project,” commissioners’ Chairman Josh Shapiro told a crowd of county employees and local officials involved in the project.

Shapiro told the group that they will begin to see traffic slow down as the second phase makes its way through its expected completion date of spring 2017, but he added there will not be detours on Ridge Pike in Plymouth Township.

Read more:

http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20150408/commissioners-kick-off-second-phase-of-lafayette-street-extension-project

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