Downtown Marketing and Development

Insights and observations on the redevelopment and revitalization of post-industrial towns on the Route 422 Corridor in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

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Practical Application of Amenity as an Enhancement of Value

The revitalization of Phoenixville has led to the increase in value of the commercial properties, as well as some of the surrounding residential properties. When the streetscape amenities were installed, people looked differently at the town and the price of real estate. Between the years of 2003 and 2010, assessed property value in Phoenixville increased by approximately $150,000,000 and grew at a rate of 25 percent. Now Phoenixville is about to take another giant leap in value.

Ramps to Nowhere

Last Saturday morning my wife and I were going out to breakfast and she pointed at the Wendy’s on Route 30 in Thorndale and remarked about the fact that they used such big stones that people waiting for the bus had to stand on the road to wait for the bus. There was not a lot of room between the cart way and the curb, making it a dangerous bus stop. 

Change in Economic Policy

I was reading that in order to get a minister held in Turkey back there were economic sanctions (steel tariffs) imposed upon Turkey. Drastic change for the country of Turkey, and their currency took a tumble losing 14 percent of its value. People are panicking, and we are only talking about steel tariffs.

As the previous scenario is unfolding in the news, you have to start to wonder just how fragile are some of these economies in some of these countries? 

Changes in Phoenixville

I had left Phoenixville in 2012 after working for two years for Manny DeMutis and returned this past February and found that there had been a lot of changes that had taken place in my absence. I had been in Pittsburgh for a couple of years, working on a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) project, and coming home on weekends did not afford me a whole lot of time to do anything. Plus, I have been spending a lot of time in Europe, as I expanded my practice, which further restricted my availability.

Change in Transportation along the 422 Corridor

Recently I returned to Philadelphia after being in Pittsburgh the better part of the last three years looking after my father. Any of you that have elderly parents will soon find out choices in your life will sometimes take a back seat to what you have to do as a responsible family member. Although Pittsburgh, to me, is like being in social Siberia, I would not change a moment of sharing my father’s last days. 

DeMutis Group Funds Study of Options for Rail Service to Phoenixville

Phoenixville Developer Manny DeMutis took time to address the reasons why he is funding a study for the Borough to assess the possibility of options for Rail Service to Phoenixville. His proposal was presented to the borough Infrastructure Committee where it met with approval. It will be forwarded to Borough Council for a vote, where DeMutis expects an affirmative vote to proceed.

Opinion — Change in Freedom

From liberal to libelous, from “Bonzo” to Birch idol, born again. Civil rights, women's rights, gay rights… it's all wrong. Call in the cavalry to disrupt this perception of freedom gone wild. God damn it, first one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom.

Nostalgia, that's what we want… The good ol' days when we gave 'em hell? When the buck stopped somewhere, and you could still buy something with it. To a time when movies were in black and white – and so was everything else. Gil Scott Heron – Lyrics from the song, “B – Movie”

Internet and Change

I have previously written about the internet bringing people closer together than ever.  Social media lets us know people’s every move. It is now possible to let Google know your location, have amazon send all your needs through prime membership, or put your address phone number and birthdate on Facebook so all your “friends” know.  We have become reliant on our electronic information stream and to form our social networks.

Walking Around Money and Earmarks

I have been advocating for a loosening of the system statewide to bring back Walking Around Money (WAM). There was a time before the single application when the money was awarded without an application, but it was then refined to the Community Revitalization Program (CRP), which at least had a paper trail on how the money would be used.

Federal Opportunity Zones and the Disenfranchised

How do you breathe life into a dying town or a census district that has a lot of poverty and disinvestment? It is pretty tricky when you come to the realization that no one has invested in these areas or properties for a good amount of time. Stores are vacant and the housing becomes the refuge of the low-income population. 

Revitalizing Downtowns with Downtown Infill

When most traditional downtowns were planned, normally there was a residential component to maximize the income of the buildings, and for practical purposes, enable additional rentable space for the owner.  Now, with the movement of people back to smaller towns, the modern-day adaption is not quite like it was in the days when these downtowns were originally designed.

The Culture of the Individual and Aesthetic Considerations

While in Rome last week I had an opportunity to visit the Coliseum which was kind of an adventure to me.  After standing in line for 45 minutes we got to see the artifacts and some of the narratives that went along with the impressive ruins.  There was one part of the tour that stuck in my mind. 

Phoenixville Train Project Changes Tracks

The Borough of Phoenixville's access to passenger rail to Philadelphia ended through the dissolution of CONRAIL. The Mayor's Task Force for the Restoration of Passenger Rail Service to Phoenixville is spearheading the effort to restore service on the same rail line, now owned by Norfolk Southern.

Impact of Opportunity Zones

Recently I have been asked to help a community group in Coatesville. The group of residents got together and formed a CDC, with a primary focus on the resident. They are separate from the current effort to revitalize Coatesville. They are what some call, an ancillary group — A group of people wanting to do good.

Why Should Small Towns Try to Dictate Their Own Future?

Regionalism, Urbanism, Smart Growth are all buzz words out there concerning revitalization. Many times, people get all their hopes and dreams defined and try to fit into the buzz words. Then there is an attempt to tell people what they want to hear, rather than what they need to do. If, when planning, there is no context to the planning study, you could find yourself running around in circles looking to establish something that is not what you want to do.

Pottstown’s Mosaic Community Land Trust — Revitalizing Pottstown from the Ground Up

Where you live becomes a part of who you are. In most cases, goods and services provided locally are your window on the consumer world. The location of goods and services is only part of the story associated with the quality of life of a place. The entire living experience relates to the quality of life you enjoy in your localities. In many cases the older neighborhoods, since the 1960s, have experienced disinvestment, outward migration and job loss.

Business/Employer Recruitment and the Amazon Example

The recent Amazon relocation to New York has been aborted and one of the all-time business recruitments ended with suddenness. The criteria included considering the “sense of place” and “amenity package” of the locations as part of the selection process. Many cities applied, and I believe that both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were contenders. It was a highly sought-after economic development goal for many of cities and states.

Stop Turning Railbeds to Trails

Not every barn needs a group of kids saying, “Hey, here’s a vacant barn! Let’s put on a show.” Similarly, not every railbed needs a trail. I am sure that many people use the trail system in the Philadelphia area and support the conversion of railbeds to trails passionately. I admit that the trails are used quite often by people. 

Institutional Resistance When Initiating Change

People think that when change happens, it happens quickly and swiftly. That is not the case in most situations. Being an agent of change, I have gotten used to it and try not to take it personally when I am attacked for “not knowing what I am doing.”

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