New Destination Flea, Farmers And Co-Op Market To Open In Harrisburg

Recreation of the flag of the city of Harrisbu...

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A new 80,000 square feet indoor marketplace is opening across from the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburgeither late January or early February 2011.  The marketplace will feature a variety of vendors, selling a vast array of merchandise.  A food court is being added in addition to merchant space, galleries and co-op retailers.  Another unique feature of the market is a stage and seating area where demonstrations, children’s activities and musical acts can take place during market hours.

North End Markets has a prime location, across from the busy Farm Show Complex and easy access to Interstates 81 and 83 as well as Routes 22 and 230!

North End Markets will be open every Friday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

You can visit their website for further details:

http://www.northendmarkets.com/

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Downtown Wilkes-Barre Becomes A Destination – Kings And Wilkes Play Large Roll

Location of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropol...

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In 2001, downtown Wilkes-Barre hit bottom.  There was no reason to go there and the merchants who remained wanted out.  Kings College and Wilkes University tried to keep students on campus and played down their downtown Wilkes-Barre locations.  Now, on the verge of 2011, things are reversed.  Businesses are relocating downtown, Wilkes and Kings proudly show prospective students downtown Wilkes-Barre and the downtown is now viewed as a “destination” by Wyoming Valley residents.

How did this miraculous transformation occur?  Four community meetings were held which drew 1,000 people.  These meetings spawned Diamond City Partnership, a public-private alliance for downtown revitalization http://www.wbdcp.com/about.htm.  After years of hard work and “seed planting” center city Wilkes-Barre is “the place to be” again.

King’s College and Wilkes University have invested over $30 million dollars in downtown Wilkes-Barre by expanding and renovating their campuses.  There are 6,500 students between both schools.  With the abundance of clubs, bars, restaurants, stores, coffee shops, the Kirby Center and a 14-screen Cineplex, downtown Wilkes-Barre is a draw for students and residents alike.  This renaissance is helping the recruitment efforts of both colleges and is attracting new downtown residents who are looking for city-living in a “walk to everything” environment.  More residents downtown will help spur more economic development.

I think this line sums it up.  A visitor at the Kirby Center was overheard saying “Wilkes-Barre?” “Who knew?”

York County Group Looking To Advance Economic Development In Downtown York

York, Pennsylvania: Market Street between Quee...

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YorIT, a York County Community Foundation has a Social Venture Fund with $20,000 and is looking for a person or persons with “new, creative, out-of-the-box ideas that can attract retailers and restaurants to the area as well as get more people to come downtown” to give it to.

I seriously think I should move to York!  I am continually amazed at the level of cooperation between the city, county and private sector.  How refreshing to see that suburbanites get that York City is the heart of York County and are trying to do all in their power to revitalize it! 

Around here, it’s the opposite.  Most suburbanites do not seem to care if places like Philadelphia, Norristown and Pottstown fail.  Many avoid coming into these places at all costs.  Very sad.

Check out their website for more information:

http://www.yorit.org/Challenge/

Three York County Projects Will Benefit From Pennsylvania Bond Sale

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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The Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is going to receive just that, an infusion of capital that will make three York County projects possible.  Approval has been given for the sale of $650 million dollars in bonds by Pennsylvania Treasurer, Rob McCord.

The Northwest Triangle project is waiting on a $7.5 million dollar grant to demolish buildings and make way for new construction.  For more information on the Northwest Triangle, you can read my post on this very large brownfield redevelopment project in York City.

York College is waiting on $4 million dollars to complete various projects around their campus including the creation of a business incubator!

The York Fire School wants to construct a new building for live-burn training.  They have applied for $1.5 million dollars to complete this project.

What Can Pottstown Learn From Scranton?

This is certainly news we do not read about often!  Scranton City Council unanimously adopted a $74.9 million dollar budget that features a 10.55% property tax decrease AND a 25% decrease in mercantile and business privilege taxes.  The budget restores 44 of 69 positions which had previously been recommended to be cut. 

Mayor Chris Doherty submitted a $75.5 million dollar budget to council in November which included 69 jobs being eliminated.  Mayor Doherty has until December 24th to act of council’s $74.9 million dollar budget.  Council has a veto-proof majority so any attempt to veto the budget by Mayor Doherty would be symbolic.

Scranton, PA                                        Pottstown, PA

Population – 71,944   2009 estimate                Population – 21,421   2009 estimate

Land area – 25.2 square miles                          Land area – 4.83 square miles

2011 Budget – $74.9 million dollars                2011 Budget – $39.3 million dollars

Police – 150 officers                                         Police – 47 officers

Est. 2008 median income – $32,794                Est. 2008 median income – $45,941

Est. 2008 per capita income – $19,034            Est. 2008 per capita income – $24,044

City-data crime index 2009 – 306.7                City-data crime index 2009 – 454.7

After carefully reflecting on the above figures some questions may develop.

How does a city 3 1/2 times our size (population) and 5 times our size in land area have a lower crime rate with less police per 1000 people?

How does a city 3 1/2 times our size have a budget less than twice as big?

How does a less affluent city in terms of median and per capita income reduce property taxes 10.55% and reduce business taxes 25%?

Any thoughts?????

Demographic information from City-data.com

Quakertown Takes The “Rebranding” Plunge

The next town in my series of redevelopment success stories in Quakertown, PA.  Pottstown area residents are all familiar with Quakertown.  We even share Route 663. 

Quakertown has benefited over the years, to some degree, by their proximity to the big cities in the Lehigh Valley.  They are part of suburbia on heavily traveled Route 309.  What many people think of when they get a visual of Quakertown is the “Big Box” sprawl on 309.  However, there is more to Quakertown.

Quakertown Borough is 2.0 square miles and contained 8,931 residents according to the 2000 census.  A 2009 estimate put the population of the borough at 8,672.  The estimated median income for Quakertown in 2008 was $53,340.  The 2008 estimated per capita income was $27,000.  The City-data crime index for Quakertown in 2009 was 258.0, which is considered low.

This all sounds rather idyllic.  Why not roll with it?  However, the status quo was not good enough for Quakertown officials who felt they needed to get people excited about their downtown and what it has to offer.  Honestly, I never thought there was much more to Quakertown than Route 309, if the truth be told.  So now I am excited too!

Quakertown has come up with the all important “tag line” which is “Explore The Possibilities”.  Kind of peeks your interest further, doesn’t it!  I enjoy exploring!  Now I feel the urge to drive up to Quakertown and venture into their downtown to “explore” the possibilities!  Local officials want to make Quakertown a destination.  To that end, they hired Delta Development Group of Mechanicsburg, PA to help lead them to the promised land of redevelopment.  In addition, Quakertown has hired Marketing Solutions of Quakertown to help them identify and market their borough.

The $64,000 question:  What kind of destination does Quakertown want to be?  The winning answer is recreation, culture, shopping and dining.  To that end a logo was carefully crafted incorporating these elements.  Because Quakertown is strategically located on the edge of the Lehigh and Delaware valleys, they are marketing themselves in both areas.

Quakertown was once a manufacturing and commercial center.  With the decline of industry, Quakertown is now a bedroom community and regional shopping destination.  Quakertown has decided to work with the assets they have and improve upon them.  Instead of crying over what once was, they are embracing what is.

Click here to check out the Quakertown development organization’s website – Quakertown Alive! http://www.quakertownalive.com/

Hat tip to readers Katy and Andrew for bringing this story to my attention!

Demographic data from Wikipedia and City-data.com

York City Making Improvements To Market Downtown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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One year ago, Roger Brooks visited York City and came up with 33 recommendations how downtown York could market itself and attract people.  This idea should sound familiar to Pottstown residents after a ULI study and recommendations were made for Pottstown.

What did York do with these 33 recommendations?  Do you suppose they ignored them or possibly took an expert at their word and went about trying to carry out these ideas?  I know, sounds pretty zany, doesn’t it!

Mr. Brooks gave York a 3 – 5 year time frame to make the changes.  Like Pottstown, York has a downtown entity similar to PDIDA, called Downtown Inc.  Their Executive Director, Sonia Huntzinger reports they have completed 18 out of 33 recommendations in the first year!

Some of these recommendations, Pottstown has already completed (mainly the cosmetic ones).  One unique recommendation, completed in October, was a “best of” guide.  Downtown Inc. released a Downtown Destination guide which promotes downtown York!

Brooks recommended that York brand itself as “America’s Industrial Art and Design Capital”.  The York County Economic Development Corp. has developed “Creativity Unleashed” to support this effort.  The idea is to attract young professionals and artists to York along with tourism.  A logo was developed to be used by organizations and companies in their advertising to help promote this rebranding.

How refreshing to see that the county and the city work together to achieve these goals.  How refreshing to see the vigor with which York is embracing these recommendations for positive change.

If you would like to check out Downtown Inc.’s website site, click here: http://downtownyorkpa.com/

To view their 25 page Downtown Destination brochure, click here:

http://downtownyorkpa.com/storage/Destination%20Guide%20ALL%20Pages.pdf

To view Creativity Unleashed info, click here:

http://downtownyorkpa.com/creativity-unleashed/

If this doesn’t inspire you, check your pulse!