Reading OKs Program To Sell Off Blighted Houses

Needing a way for the city to sell off the blighted houses it has begun taking from property owners, City Council on Monday approved an agreement to use a special program by the Reading-Berks Association of Realtors.

Part of a statewide effort, the Realtors’ Community Reinvestment – or CORE – program will try to match the homes with buyers and mortgage companies and rehab contractors.

There are several advantages to the buyers, top among them a 10-year graduated property tax abatement – no taxes the first year, scaling up to 90 percent in the 10th.

But there’s also potential help with closing and rehab costs and even the price of the home, as well as cutting in half the 5 percent real estate transfer tax and discount permit fees.

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Businesses On Clarks Summit’s State Street Alive, And Booming Again

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

CLARKS SUMMIT – Barry Kaplan still remembers walking down State Street several years ago, stunned at the number of vacant shops on what he calls the borough’s “gatekeeper.”

“I was shocked,” said Mr. Kaplan, one of the owners of Everything Natural, an organic food and natural products store located on State Street for 28 years. “I had never seen anything like it. It just wasn’t a good time for businesses.”

Now when he walks the street, Mr. Kaplan, who also serves as the president of the Abington Business & Professional Association, said he sees packed shops, windows covered in white lettering, and, most important, no vacant stores.

“This is this best business has been on this street in a long, long time,” Mr. Kaplan said. “The atmosphere … everything … it’s back.”

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Allentown’s Arena Document Forecasts Expansive Development Downtown

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown‘s hockey arena will not open until 2014, but when it does it will help spur almost runaway development in a downtown that has been ravaged by three decades of decay, according to bond documents filed Friday.

The 354-page statement for investors interesting in buying $234 million paints a rosy future in which the next 12 years will bring not only the 8,500-seat hockey arena, but more than 1 million square feet of office space, two hotels, retail shops, a convention center, a 12-screen cinema and hundreds of apartments.

All told, the study by CSL International forecasts that Allentown’s unique 127-acre Neighborhood Improvement Zone will create 7,500 new jobs and $44 million in annual state and local taxes.

At least that’s the pitch being made to investors who in the coming weeks will be able to buy $235 million worth of revenue bonds to get the complex at Seventh and Hamilton streets started.

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