Tionesta Market Village Plan Unveiled

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Forest County

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

Tionesta’s long-vacant downtown will be given a jump-start this spring with the creation of the Tionesta Market Village. The Forest County IDA and IDC have partnered up and completed plans to establish this addition to the main street on the southern of the two IDA-owned lots, now known as the “Gazebo Lot”.  This site will become the home of several custom-built small scale retail buildings designed to look like 1800s store fronts, fronted by a wide walkway for shoppers and offering a variety of small retail establishments.

While the IDA owns the property, the IDC is funding this project and is now searching for new start-ups or small home-based businesses looking to move into a small retail space.  This is an attempt to fill two needs: providing small, high-visibility retail space to small businesses and making use of the vacant property until a permanent development is established.

“Over the past couple of years there have been several individuals that have expressed an interest in starting a small business in downtown Tionesta.” says Dick Johnson, owner of Forest Hardware in Tionesta and Vice President of the Forest County IDC.  “Two of the biggest drawbacks are the lack of available space and the cost of building new.”  He hopes that the Market Village will give those people an “economically feasible way to get their new ventures up and running.”

IDC president, Farley Wright, says “The project is a unique, low-risk, high potential reward grass roots effort to increase the attraction and traffic to the community.  It’s an opportunity, without relying on governmental funding, to assist local folks as well as benefit our community.”  In answer to why this type of use for the property, he adds “Sometimes you can’t wait for others to provide the solutions; and while there may be detractors (nay-sayers) to the project, I know of no one that has presented a better idea.  We can support the effort and contribute to its success, or we can deride it and it may fail…….but at least we are doing something.”

Read more:  http://www.forestcounty.com/uploads/article_Tionesta%20Market%20Village%20Plans%20Unveiled.pdf

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Lancaster And Harrisburg Promote The Arts And Their Revitalized Downtowns With Monthly Events!

This is an inspiring story about how Lancaster’s success with their First Fridays event has inspired Harrisburg to follow suit.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Lancaster’s First Fridays event now involves 70 venues!  This free event brings thousands into downtown Lancaster!  This not only benefits the arts scene but all downtown businesses and restaurants.  First Fridays runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every month, without exception!  People come from as far away as Philadelphia and Baltimore!  Franklin and Marshall College is the presenting sponsor of this event.  As a side note, Franklin and Marshall has been instrumental in helping Lancaster with economic development!

While Lancaster has a larger population than Pottstown, it is also a very walkable city of only 7.40 square miles (land area).  A year-round monthly event in downtown Pottstown could yield similar results that would benefit our emerging arts community and our downtown stores and restaurants.  And maybe attract new ones.

Here is a link to Lancaster’s First Fridays event.  Check out this map and list of venues:  http://www.lancasterarts.com/_files/live/FirstFriday_Guide_2011_1st_Qtr_LArts.pdf

Some folks in Harrisburg had watched the success of Lancaster’s First Fridays.  A year ago, three downtown business owners got together and started 3rd in the Burg.  This idea has grown into a monthly event with up to 15 venues participating already!  That is great for the first year! 

The next 3rd in the Burg takes place on January 21st and will feature art, music and food from downtown to midtown!  Nonna’s Delisioso! will feature a 3rd in the Burg dinner special.  Nonna’s co-owner, Grace Diaz was quoted as saying, 3rd in the Burg has “introduced people from here and neighboring towns and cities to the revitalization that has taken place in our developing arts community.”  Bingo!!  What better way to entice people to come take a “look-see” than with the arts, food and music.

Participating businesses are experiencing increased sales and foot traffic at their locations.  The event draws many people into downtown Harrisburg who would not ordinarily go there.  Having multiple participants increases the public’s enthusiasm, creates a positive “buzz” and creates a snowball effect.  The ball started out with three participants, now there are 15.  As the momentum builds and the crowds increase, other merchants will take part in making the ball bigger.  As shoppers stroll between participating merchants, they will pass other stores and restaurants along the way.  I can bet you they will stop in those places as well.

The other part of the snowball effect is the arts community.  As this event grows, it will inspire other artists to take part and possibly move to Harrisburg.  Thereby increasing Harrisburg’s arts community and growing 3rd in the Burg further.

The desired result of 3rd in the Burg is to make Harrisburg a “destination” for the arts, shopping and dining.  I give that two Roy’s Rants thumbs up!

Here is a link to 3rd in the Burg:  http://3rdintheburg.com/

York City Making Improvements To Market Downtown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Image via Wikipedia

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!

Reading GoggleWorks – Transforming The City Of Reading

Reading's Pagoda seen from Skyline Drive

Image via Wikipedia

This sounds like the recipe for Velveeta cheese except we aren’t using Colby, Swiss and Cheddar.  Take a bunch of abandoned industrial buildings, fix ’em up, blend in a heapin’ helpin’ of the arts and see what you get!  Revitalization in Reading, PA!

Read the story below:

http://www.newpa.com/strengthen-your-community/success-stories/the-revivalists/index.aspx