Downtown Marketing and Development

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


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.

Change and Loops in Time

As I finish up with my career I am being a little more selective concerning what I work on and try to stay closer to home. Personal circumstances have dictated that I work in Pittsburgh. My father was ill and being “himself” I was drafted to look after his final days. Living in Pittsburgh part time was a little bit different and I remembered why I left every morning when I awoke. So, I decided it would be good to center most of my work back in the Philadelphia area after he passed away and I settled the estate.

Change and Cultural Positioning

Since the onset of civilization, there has been the practice of religion. Belief in God. I say belief because there is no proof one way or the other that there is a god. That is why people talk about their faith, as they have faith that god exists.  I am not here to debate the existence of god, but in the changing political and social climate, the practice of religion has come under attack. 

Change in the Small Town

As we are moving to the ¼ mark of the new century, some of the downtown real estate has taken on a new dimension.  In many cases, the return to the small town has been an “in” thing to do. Some towns have embraced the efforts to become the renewed center of commerce, while some towns have not been able to make that transition. The difference in towns affects the real estate values in the political subdivision, and in turn the income from taxes.

Opinion — Globalization and Change

There has been an effort on behalf of some to initiate a global agenda in the United States. After all, we are part of the world, and we are all brothers and sisters. Global barriers are breaking down, and there is an effort for people to consider themselves citizens of the world, rather than a particular nation.  

Change is in your Mind

I always try to broaden my horizons. I did not care too much for school when I was young. I also did not do well. Most of my attention was not geared toward academic achievement.  Most of the kids in my New Jersey High School were hovering around 97 – 99 percent on whatever that test was that measured our intelligence, while others like me did not score as well.

Changes in Health Insurance

Yet another change in Health Insurance is on the horizon. I was looking at the proposed plans, and there seemed to be one common thread — the 40 percent excise tax is coming my way. People like me are looking at a one-year total of about $342 billion in increased taxes. As before, there is no help for me on the horizon. I am part of the old system and my kind of plan is now scorned.

Change the Elector Process

I realized the other day that I am on a vast array of mailing lists from far left to far right, and pretty much everything in the middle. I did receive something about a month ago that made me wonder about the entire process of selection.

Hoops of Change

I have been given the liberty to change my column to write about CHANGE. I believe that I am the only officially recognized agent of change in Pennsylvania. I have the necessary skill set to write about change. Elements of change are everywhere around us, as we interact with media, institutions and individuals. I hope to be able to comment intelligently about changes that happen to and around us. Some of what I write is going to make people uncomfortable, but that is what change is all about.

Phoenixville Today — An Interview with Manny DeMutis

Manny DeMutis is a Phoenixville native who attended Phoenixville School District along with his two sisters Dodi and Ann.  They currently comprise the 3D Group, which was responsible for the revitalization of Phoenixville.  Manny is married to Kate and they have three daughters Hope, Paige and Ava.

The ultimate family man, he currently spends time traveling to Paige’s Field Hockey events in East Carolina or visiting Hope at Penn State.  Because of the nature of his work, Manny spends most of his summers doing business in his beach chair at Cape May.

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. 

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