Lansdale Borough Named “Classic Town” By Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Location of Lansdale in Montgomery County

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Lansdale Borough was admitted to the 2011 Class of “Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia” by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission at a luncheon on Wednesday in Manayunk.  Lansdale shared the spotlight with Bordentown, NJ and Kennett Square.  Congrats!

Here is a list of some other towns who have been awarded this distinction:  Ardmore, Bristol, Collingswood, N.J., Germantown, Glassboro, N.J., Haddon Heights, N.J., Lansdowne, Manayunk, Media, Merchantville, N.J., Moorestown, N.J., New Hope, Overbrook Farms, Phoenixville; Wayne, Souderton-Telford, Ambler and West Chester.

Here is a list of what makes up a classic town:  a commercial main street, a mix of housing close to the main street, a Main Streets programs or a downtown development district contributing to economic development, plus demographic diversity, sidewalks and transit access ease.

There are opportunities that go along with this distinction such as local and regional branding assistance and being on a list with communities like New Hope, Ambler, Manayunk and Wayne, for starters.  You are known by the company you keep!

The Montgomery County Planning Commission recommended Lansdale to Classic Towns, according to Lansdale Borough Manager Timothea Kirchner.

Lansdale Gets Coveted “Classic Town” Status From Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Location of Lansdale in Montgomery County

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Lansdale Borough was admitted to the 2011 Class of “Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia” by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission at a luncheon on Wednesday in Manayunk.  Lansdale shared the spotlight with Bordentown, NJ and Kennett Square.  Congrats!

Here is a list of some other towns who have been awarded this distinction:  Ardmore, Bristol, Collingswood, N.J., Germantown, Glassboro, N.J., Haddon Heights, N.J., Lansdowne, Manayunk, Media, Merchantville, N.J., Moorestown, N.J., New Hope, Overbrook Farms, Phoenixville; Wayne, Souderton-Telford, Ambler and West Chester.

Here is a list of what makes up a classic town:  a commercial main street, a mix of housing close to the main street, a Main Streets programs or a downtown development district contributing to economic development, plus demographic diversity, sidewalks and transit access ease.

There are opportunities that go along with this distinction such as local and regional branding assistance and being on a list with communities like New Hope, Ambler, Manayunk and Wayne, for starters.  You are known by the company you keep!

The Montgomery County Planning Commission recommended Lansdale to Classic Towns, according to Lansdale Borough Manager Timothea Kirchner (a former Pottstown Borough staffer).

Harrisburg’s West Shore Communities Focusing On Curb Appeal

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Cumberland County

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Several suburban Harrisburg communities, across the river in Cumberland County, are trying to make their downtown’s more attractive to shoppers, motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists by completing major streetscape projects in their downtowns.

Lemoyne is trying to become a destination rather than a “drive-through” community by making their downtown attractive and welcoming to shoppers.  Phase Two of their streetscape improvements will start in the fall of 2012. The new project will extend existing improvements made in Phase One and focus on safety and appearance.

Wormleysburg has a plan in place, but it is on hold due to the economy.

Camp Hill also approved a plan but placed it on hold due to a sewer project priority.

West Fairview, in East Pennsboro Township, will have their streetscape project begin in mid-August.

New Cumberland is seeking a block grant to extend their existing streetscape improvements.

Dillsburg completed a streetscape project last fall,

Carlisle recently added bike lanes and trails.

Mechanicsburg used a grant to make sidewalk and crosswalk improvements near several schools.

New Kingston, in Silver Spring Township, is also working on a streetscape plan.

Souderton’s Broad Theater To Get $5 Million Renovation

Location of Souderton in Montgomery County

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Some great economic development/revitalization news out of Souderton.  The Broad Theater space is 20,000-square-feet.  Plans call for second-run movies to be shown and a variety of food options at reasonable prices.

The theater will have a concession stand and a cafe.  The building will also house Bogart’s casual family dining restaurant and the Broadway Prime restaurant specializing in steaks.

To read the entire article, click here:

http://www.thereporteronline.com/articles/2011/07/22/news/doc4e2a1ffb41333653374205.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Harrisburg’s Allision Hill Neighborhood Getting Community Art Garden

On the corner of Mulberry and Crescent Streets in Allison Hill is a vacant lot where two blighted homes were demolished by the city.  Community group Danzante, an Allison Hill based community art music and dance center is adopting this vacant lot from the city for $1.00 through Harrisburg’s Adopt-A-Block program.

Volunteers from well beyond the Harrisburg area are coming to Allison Hill and helping reclaim this vacant land to beautify it and give hope to Allison Hill residents.  Mosaic art will decorate the path leading to the “Treasure Garden”.

Danzante has been a part of Allison Hill since 1978.  The 501(c)3 organization is looking for volunteers to help with the project or people to make donations toward the completion of this project.  The Danzante Community Center is on the opposite corner from the Art Garden.  The group hopes to create a beautiful and safe community gathering place.

To learn more about Danzante, check out their website here:  http://danzante.org/

To volunteer or make a contribution of materials or money, call (717) 232-2615

 

West York Project Reuses Bricks From Demolition Site

A 10,000-square-foot building was demolished and the bricks are being cleaned and reused for another project.  The Keystone Weaving Mill is being turned into apartments and the bricks from the demolition will be used to replace missing bricks at the old mill.

The savings is about a $5 per brick difference between reuse and making new bricks!  Great cost savings, certainly a green solution and the use of period bricks makes the renovation historically accurate!  A win-win in my book!

To read the entire article from the York Dispatch, click here:

http://www.yorkdispatch.com/news/ci_18499697

Chester One Of Six Cities Selected For Obama’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities Program

A new federal program to spur economic growth in urban areas called Strong Cities, Strong Communities is coming to Chester.  Only six cities in the U.S. were selected for the program.  In addition to Chester, the list includes Cleveland, Detroit, New Orleans, Memphis and Fresco round out the list.  Chester is by far the smallest city on the list but certainly would be at the top of the list based on need.

To read the entire article and watch a video, click here:

http://delcotimes.com/articles/2011/07/11/news/doc4e1b42b4b85db591695600.txt

Main Street USA

This is an except from an article that appeared on MSN today about urban renewal, vibrant downtowns and what makes them tick.  This particular section I really liked:

Main Street
Columbus, Miss.

Huck's at night // Huck's Place at night, Coilumbus, Miss. \\ Courtesy Main Street Columbus(Courtesy Main Street Columbus)

Huck’s Place in Columbus, Miss., occupies pride of place on Fifth Street South, one of the major streets in a town whose planners saw the value in housing units above downtown businesses. (Courtesy Main Street Columbus)

Look closely at the urban-renewal renaissance and you’ll discover certain key characteristics like terrace seating, broad sidewalks and street art. While each of these helps establish the appeal of the streetscape, perhaps the most important component is experienced by a very few visitors: second floor residential dwellings. The planners in Columbus understood the importance of a neighborhood that doesn’t roll up its sidewalks at night, renovating more upper-floor housing units than any other Mississippi community. Not bad for a city of just under 26,000 people. The celebrations begin with Market Street Festival in early May and the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market is open three days a week. The musically inclined gather for Afternoon and Noon Tunes at various times of the year, and The Columbus Riverwalk, a citizen’s initiative, recently entered its second decade.

To read the rest of this fascinating article, click here:

http://local.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=28511885

Monaca Leading The Way In Pennsylvania As A Sustainable Community

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Beaver County

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The borough of Monaca, Beaver County, is 25 miles northwest of downtown Pittsburgh.  This small, working-class borough of 6,000 residents is one of the few sustainable municipalities in Pennsylvania.

According to Wikipedia, Sustainable communities are communities planned, built, or modified to promote sustainable living. This may include sustainability aspects relating to development, water, transportation, energy, and waste and materials. They tend to focus on environmental sustainability (including development and agriculture) and economic sustainability. Sustainable communities can focus on sustainable urban infrastructure and/or sustainable municipal infrastructure.

Monaca’s borough manager, Mario Leone, is a green kind of a guy.  Mario was hired four years ago because Monaca’s leadership didn’t want the same old same old.  They wanted someone to think outside the box.  Mr. Leone has secured a number of grants for Monaca that have transformed the community.  Brownfield reclamation, infrastructure upgrades, the use of available technology and green energy are some of things Mr. Leone has been able to accomplish so far.  Mario looks forward to having windmills along the river to generate clean, renewable alternative energy.

To read the entire article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, click here:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11184/1157941-57-0.stm

Lancaster City To Build Another Parking Garage

An important part of attracting people into downtown areas is the availability of convenient and reasonable parking.  Lancaster realizes that.  As more businesses open and residents move into adaptive reuse projects, activity increases downtown.  A key element in revitalization of a central business district is parking.  People flock to malls and strip malls because of free and plentiful parking.  As downtown business districts vie for shoppers, parking will make or break them.

Yesterday’s Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era had an article in the business section announcing the city’s plan to build another parking garage downtown.  The Redevelopment Authority voted Wednesday to buy land in the 400 block of North Market St.  The Lancaster Press building will be turned into 44 condominiums (55+).  The Brickyard restaurant needs spaces for customers along with Belvedere, Alley Kat and other nearby restaurants and shops in the 300 block of North Queen St.  The public parking will be an added benefit of the Lancaster Press building renovation.

The size and cost of the project will depend on funding.  The ballpark at this time is 225 to 370 spaces, costing between $9 and $11 million.  Money promised to the city by Governor Ed Rendell has been put on hold by Governor Tom Corbett.  Those grants are under review by Governor Corbett’s office.  The majority of the cost will be covered under a city bond issue.  If all goes well construction could begin next March or April and be concluded by the end of 2012.

The Lancaster Parking Authority will operate the garage for the Redevelopment Authority.

Mayor Chris Doherty told me one of the first things he did was build parking garages in downtown Scranton.  There was not adequate parking in Scranton’s downtown to support revitalization.  After Mayor Doherty added sufficient parking he was able to take downtown Scranton to new heights. 

Lancaster already has a number of parking garages downtown but with increased development more parking is needed.  The conversion of the Lancaster Press building is contingent upon adding parking for the residents who will live there.  More downtown residents mean more patrons for businesses.  Lancaster has a very walkable downtown which is highly desirable for the market segment that is interesting in living in a project like the Lancaster Press building.

On a personal note, I always use the parking garages when I visit downtown Lancaster.  They are clean, safe, reasonable and convenient!  Two thumbs up to Lancaster for more good decisions on the revitalization of their downtown and city.