Latrobe Revitalization Program Shifts Focus To Facade, Beautification Projects

Executive Director Jarod Trunzo detailed several projects the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program hopes to advance in the coming year at last week’s Latrobe City Council meeting.

Trunzo wanted to give council a “snapshot” of what the group is working on as it changes its focus on development instead of events.

The revitalization program will continue to operate the Latrobe Farmers Market, but has turned over Steelers Fest and the Great American Banana Split Festival to the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Some projects will start in March when the weather breaks, then continue through the summer, Trunzo said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourlatrobe/yourlatrobemore/7751678-74/latrobe-trunzo-development#ixzz3S2xupFNs
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CEO Of Royal Square Development Shares Market Street Vision For York

For Joshua Hankey, Wednesday was about as big a day as they come.

Only minutes after closing a deal on one key property — The Weinbrom Jewelers building at 58 W. Market St. — Hankey presented his $11.7 million plan to redevelop Market Street to a packed audience at the Yorktowne Hotel Ballroom.

The 36-year-old president and CEO of Royal Square Development and Construction presented his vision of a transformed Market Street to about 180 Rotarians and guests, a crowd that included business owners, clergy, attorneys, doctors and other prominent citizens.

The vision, Hankey said, is to breathe new life into the Market Street corridor, so that it serves to link thriving commercial areas on Beaver Street and the Royal Square neighborhood Hankey’s company is redeveloping.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27461444/ceo-royal-square-development-shares-market-street-vision

Downtown Lancaster Marriott’s Owner Proposes 96-Room, $23M Expansion

Lancaster MarriottThe math is simple.

If the Lancaster County Convention Center wants to attract bigger numbers of large conventions, it needs bigger numbers of nearby, convention-quality hotel rooms.

And right now, despite 299 rooms in the adjoining Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, plus 134 more at The Hotel Lancaster two blocks away, research studies show that downtown is coming up short.

But a new proposal by the Marriott’s owner would make the convention center more appealing to the organizers of these big events.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/downtown-marriott-s-owner-proposes–room-m-expansion/article_b1b39a1e-a8da-11e4-b47b-3bbb05f76f38.html

Bethlehem Main Street Streetscape Project Scaled Back, Next Phase To Start In March

Instead of another $2.7 million in upgrades, Bethlehem’s Main Street will be getting a $500,000 overhaul come spring.

Building upon a $532,000 upgrade of the intersection of Main and Market streets, city officials had planned on an extensive $3.2 million streetscape project between Broad and Church streets. But both the city and property owners say a scaled-back $1 million total project is more feasible.

The city had planned to replace all of the street’s sidewalks as it did at Main and Market but will instead just be repairing broken slate and brick on the four blocks, which is Bethlehem’s busiest business thoroughfare.

Hotel Bethlehem managing partner Bruce Haines said he and other Main Street property owners couldn’t afford the higher-priced overhaul. The city is seeking a 50-50 project cost split with property owners.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/01/bethlehem_main_street_streetsc_1.html

Belovich Announces Bid For 4th Ward Council Seat In Pottstown

Editor’s note:  We endorse Ross Belovich for 4th Ward Councilor.  We think he would be a wonderful addition to the borough government and brings may good ideas on how to move Pottstown forward.  Something that is desperately needed!

POTTSTOWN, PA = Within days of Pottstown Borough Council President Stephen Toroney announcing he will not seek another term representing the Fourth Ward, another Democrat has announced his candidacy.

North Hanover Street resident Ross Belovich, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for mayor in 2013, has thrown his hat into the ring.

In an announcement posted on Facebook, Belovich wrote that “I believe that individually we can do good, but together we can do great.”

Toroney announced he would not seek a fifth term at the end of the Jan. 12 council meeting.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150116/belovich-announces-bid-for-4th-ward-council-seat-in-pottstown

Grand Plans For Riverfront Hotels, Wedding Halls In Fishtown

Developer Bart Blatstein and caterer Joseph Volpe say they have signed a contract with Exelon Corp. to buy the former Delaware Station electric plant on the Delaware River in the city’s Fishtown section.

The property boast a 1,000-foot stretch of waterfront and includes a pier.

“We envision two boutique hotels, each leading into their own ballrooms with 55-foot-high ceilings,” said Volpe, owner of Cescaphe Event Group, which organizes 600 wedding receptions a year at its five Philadelphia venues.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind property,” said Blatstein, best known for the Piazza at Schmidt’s and other housing-and-retail projects that have helped transform some of the city’s older, grittier neighborhoods.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150116_Grand_plans_for_riverfront_hotels__wedding_halls_in_Fishtown.html#yu0DdUDgHTFBg6HI.99

Pottstown Beech Street Lofts Project Gets Council Approval

While details at this time are not available, the Citizens Action Committee for Pottstown is reporting that Pottstown Borough Council has approved the Beech Street Lofts project for the old Fecera’s building.  The building is currently vacant and in need of redevelopment.

This project will stabilize the neighborhood, provide traction for the arts community (ArtFusion 19464 and Steel River Playhouse) and send a clear message that Pottstown is serious about revitalization.  We believe this will be the transformative project that jump starts a wave of redevelopment in the borough.

You can find more information about the project here: https://www.facebook.com/beech.streetlofts?fref=ts

Generational Shift: Pittsburgh Milennials Help Reshape The City

When Beth Swanson moved out of her house in Collier last spring, she looked at places from Mount Washington to the South Hills and the Strip District before settling on Downtown.

She couldn’t be happier.

“I can walk anywhere I want to go. I can walk to a restaurant. I can walk to go to a show. There’s so much to do Downtown. For me being in my 20s, it’s just the ideal location,” she said.

Ms. Swanson, 25, has lived in a two-bedroom apartment at Market Square Place since May. She is among the growing legion of millennials and young professionals who are helping to fuel the residential building boom in and near Downtown.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/career-workplace/2015/01/03/Generational-Shift/stories/201501030003

Alliance Aims To Transform Vacant Parcel In St. Clair To Include Townhouses, Urban Farming

The site of a former public housing complex in St. Clair might become the home of a residential community that could fund one of the largest urban farms in the country, nonprofit officials said.

“It’s definitely a significant plan, but it’s not going to be easy,” said Aaron Sukenik, executive director of the Hilltop Alliance, which wants to redevelop the site and operate the farm.

The Housing Authority of the city of Pittsburgh demolished the 61-year-old St. Clair Village public housing complex in 2010 as it sought to reshape the look of public housing in the city to a model that had less-dense communities and more mixed incomes.

The Hilltop Alliance wants to turn the vacant, 107-acre parcel into Hilltop Village Farm, which would include 120 for-sale and rental townhouses, as well as an urban farm using about 20 acres for a farm incubator, youth farm and community-supported agriculture farm, or CSA.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/7413350-74/farm-housing-hilltop#ixzz3MeUTxCjn
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Pittsburgh’s Hill District Revitalization Project Hits Financial Hurdle In TIF

A plan to revitalize the Hill District and Uptown with tax money from a redeveloped Civic Arena site is more complicated than envisioned, say officials who hope to make public a proposal in January.

“There are a lot of moving parts,” said Robert Rubinstein, acting executive director of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, which is crafting a plan to pay for improvements.

An agreement reached this fall by city, neighborhood and Pittsburgh Penguins officials established conditions for the proposed $440 million project. The hockey team won the development rights to the site in a 2007 deal to build Consol Energy Center.

Among conditions in September’s agreement, the parties will borrow as much as $50 million, then use 65 percent of the anticipated increase in property tax money from the 28-acre site to pay for improvements and programs in the Hill and Uptown.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/7391701-74/development-money-tax#ixzz3MeT4WOtz
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Wolf Brings Urban Policy Expertise

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s next governor knows all about distressed cities.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf spent 12 years as president of Better York, a nonprofit bent on revitalizing the city of York. In that role, he worked closely with a nationally prominent urban expert who promotes regional solutions for urban woes.

As he prepares to take office Jan. 20, Wolf said he wants to lead a statewide discussion about how the future of older cities such as Scranton, inner ring suburbs and the surrounding townships are interrelated.

“What I bring to this is a real appreciation for what cities do,” he said in an interview.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/wolf-brings-urban-policy-expertise-1.1803039

Montco Town Hopes Carousel And Train Will Revive Economy

Picture 040The wooden animals, sanded and painted to resemble the 109-year-old originals they replaced, are waiting for visitors at the end of a restored railroad line in Pottstown.

The horses, giraffes, and reindeer on the Derek Scott Saylor Memorial Carousel are part of a merry-go-round meant to be more than an amusement.

The attraction – and the similarly restored old train that will drop visitors at its doorstep – are the centerpieces of a downtown revitalization effort for a slumping Montgomery County borough taking steps toward a comeback.

The carousel and train are scheduled to officially begin operations next fall.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20141213_Montco_town_hopes_carousel_and_train_will_revive_economy.html#rzbZLGpexQxRw0vQ.99

Tax Baseline Set For Lancaster CRIZ Program

After gathering tax information from business owners this summer, Lancaster now has a starting point for for a program it hopes will jump-start downtown development.

Known as the CRIZ for short, the City Revitalization & Improvement Zone program will allow Lancaster to redirect some state and local tax money toward redevelopment within the zone’s boundaries.

Lancaster identified 736 businesses in its CRIZ. All of them were required to file CRIZ tax reports by June 15.

Just under half did so: 366, to be exact, according to the state Department of Revenue.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/tax-baseline-set-for-lancaster-criz-program/article_adf6ae9c-80c2-11e4-a79f-97b4bba5b725.html

Luzerne County Stands To Receive Up To $2 Million From Coal Street Project

Cash-strapped Luzerne County has a claim on at least some of the $2 million left from the Coal Street widening project in Wilkes-Barre, but delays finalizing project expenses have prevented the county from receiving its share.

The amount of the county’s share also is unclear because the Wilkes-Barre Area School District may be entitled to some of the fund, officials say.

County Councilman Stephen A. Urban raised the issue during a budget work session last week, questioning why it’s taking years for the county to collect this money.

The $2 million stems from a Tax Incremental Financing plan, or TIF, that diverted tax revenue from new development along Highland Park Boulevard and at the Arena Hub Plaza to fund improvements to Mundy Street, Highland Park Boulevard and Coal Street .

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/news/50745998/County-could-receive-up-to-$2M-from-Coal-St.

Work Ongoing At Downingtown Pocket Park

DOWNINGTOWN, PA – The upgrading of fencing is the first step of the Downingtown Main Street Association’s revitalization of the borough’s Armor Alley Pocket Plaza. The borough is cooperating with the Main Street group.

“One of the main goals of the mission of the Main Street Association is to help Downingtown grow and prosper and the pocket plaza upgrading fits with our stated goal,” said Main Street President Adrian Martinez. “Board member Sarah Peck is heading this effort and she is to be commended for her willingness to volunteer many valuable hours to enhance our borough.”

The Armor Alley Pocket Plaza is proposed to be redeveloped into a lively, well lit, beautifully landscaped public plaza at a key spot on Main Street. A canopy of white lights will define the plaza and new landscaping, fencing, walkway lighting and pavers will create an attractive and safe pedestrian link to Main Street from Mill Road, the organization said in a press release.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20141125/work-ongoing-at-downingtown-pocket-park

Dilapidated Buildings Hinder Greensburg Downtown Growth

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

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

Leaky roofs and outdated structures are one big reason why about 20 percent of downtown Greensburg storefronts are vacant, despite businesses clamoring to move in, according to the Greensburg Community Development Corp.

The nonprofit plans to purchase four of the dilapidated buildings within the next year, and pursue private and public grants to fix them up and resell them to private owners, said Steven Gifford, its executive director.

Downtown real estate is in demand, with more businesses wanting to move into storefronts than there is space available, according to Gifford. Despite this, about one-fifth of the city’s 138 storefronts remain vacant, often because they are too run down or unsafe to occupy.

The development corporation has identified seven buildings with leaking roofs, and another five that cannot be occupied because of building code deficiencies, such as missing sprinkler systems and staircases.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/7098524-74/buildings-gifford-owners#ixzz3J9lEs6Fm
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Spring House Brewing’s $2M Lancaster City Project To Be Completed In Spring

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Next May or so, Matt Keasey will be able to take his foot off the proverbial brake.

That’s when Keasey will no longer need to ration how much of his Spring House Brewing beer he sells to his wholesale distributors.

By then, Spring House Brewing’s new city brewery and brew pub will be operational, replacing a smaller brewery in Conestoga.

“It’s difficult,” said Keasey, the founder, brewmaster and co-owner.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/spring-house-brewing-s-m-city-project-to-be-completed/article_26864ea2-6b75-11e4-84f5-87894514c58c.html

Charleroi Envisions Riverfront Destination As Focal Point Of Business Redevelopment Plan

Map of Washington County higlighting Charleroi.

Map of Washington County higlighting Charleroi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Imagine that, another town with a vision and a plan…with the rash of shootings going on in Pottstown again….a vision and a plan would be in order.  Just sayin’…

Donn Henderson sees the Charleroi riverfront development he wants 25 miles away in Pittsburgh.

“It’s not rocket science. There are plenty of examples,” said Henderson, manager of the borough, which will announce a redevelopment plan for the central business district Thursday. “Just look at the North Side. That’s a great model. The South Side, too.”

Re-creating Pittsburgh’s successes deep in Washington County‘s Mon Valley will not be easy. But continuing to watch the once-thriving industrial and retail community lose population amid growing drug and crime problems certainly will accomplish nothing, Henderson said.

“We cannot continue that trend and survive,” he said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/washington/7133358-74/charleroi-henderson-buildings#ixzz3IxX1Lmiv
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$2.5 Million Grant To Aid Granite Building Hotel Project In Downtown Pittsburgh

DSC01828Gov. Tom Corbett delivered a $2.5 million state redevelopment assistance capital grant this morning to jump start Downtown’s latest hotel project — 104 rooms, three bars, and a brasserie-style restaurant at Wood Street and Sixth Avenue.

The $38 million independent boutique hotel will be housed in the Granite Building, a Romanesque-style structure built in 1889 and site of the former German National Bank. A building next door that once housed an Arby’s restaurant also will be part of the development.

The project is being developed by Holly Brubach, a former New York Times style editor who bought the Granite Building in 2006 with the intent of turning it into condominiums.

But that project was done in by the recession, prompting Ms. Brubach to change course.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/24/2-5M-grant-to-jump-start-Granite-Building-hotel-project-in-downtown-Pittsburgh/stories/201410240194

Pittsburgh Study Shows City’s Vibrancy Has Returned

DSC01844Editor’s note:  We found this to be true during our visit there this summer. Pittsburgh has drastically changed over the last 10 years and the improvement is palpable.

Pittsburgh has transformed from an economically stagnant, transient city to “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” according to Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today.

A new report from the statistics-based project reflects this trend in increased home ownership, showing more residents are making the city their home.

The report shows the Pittsburgh region has the highest percentage of owner-occupied housing compared to 14 other metropolitan areas with comparable size and demographics, according to U.S. Census figures.

Factors like employment opportunities, education and housing have turned the city into “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” Mr. Heuck said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/18/Study-shows-Pittsburgh-s-vibrancy-has-returned/stories/201410180017