Public and private investment is flowing into Pottstown. How much? During 2014 and 2015, approximately $3.5 million in Federal, State, and County grants were awarded to community and economic development projects throughout the Borough. Over the last 12 months alone, over $4.3 million in private capital has been invested to acquire commercial buildings in just two blocks of the downtown. Additional private dollars are being put to work funding projects in other areas of town.
The grants from our government partners leverage private investment, fill funding gaps, and promote economic development. The diverse projects and funding sources include:
• $400,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded to the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority for brownfield assessment grants to properly inventory, characterize, assess, and conduct reuse and cleanup planning for environmentally-impacted sites within the Borough of Pottstown;
• $250,000 from Montgomery County and $676,000 from the Commonwealth Financing Authority awarded to the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust for the establishment of a multi-modal station in Memorial Park to serve the tourist railroad;
• $250,000 from Montgomery County awarded to the Carousel at Pottstown to complete the building improvements required to open the beautifully restored carousel to the public;
• $200,000 from the Commonwealth Financing Authority and $67,000 from the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority awarded to Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. for the Keystone Employment & Economic Plan to encourage redevelopment of vacant and underutilized parcels along Keystone Blvd. and westward into West Pottsgrove Township;
• $1,525,000 awarded through the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Federal Transportation Alternatives Program, PA Department of Transportation, and Federal Safe Routes to School Program for the Walk and Bike Pottstown project. The public funds leverage $582,000 in private investment from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation; and
• $50,000 awarded from the Downtown Business Incentive Grant Program to Sprogels Run Properties for improvements to 258 E. High Street and $80,000 awarded to Armstrong Alehouse for improvements to 251 E. High Street. This Borough program funds capital improvements to previously vacant downtown commercial properties and was capitalized with funds received from Montgomery County.
The private sector is also investing significant capital in Pottstown. The investment of over $4.3 million in private funds for the acquisition of downtown properties during the last 12 months is potentially transformative. Six buildings totaling 156,000 square feet of gross building area have changed hands in the 100 and 200 blocks of High Street. The properties are now owned by investors with the resources to improve and maintain the buildings. The transactions include:
• Montco Tech Center LLC’s acquisition of the iconic New York Plaza Building at 238 High Street last November followed up with the acquisition of the Ellis Mills Building at 227 High Street this summer;
• Investors and restaurateurs Win and Sutida Somboonsong’s acquisition of the five-story Security Trust Building located at High and Hanover streets in April of this year followed by their purchase of 254 High Street with plans to establish what will be their sixth Win Signature Restaurant;
• Adamerin Enterprises LLC’s purchase of 251 High Street where restaurateur Adam Burke and craft brewer Steve Armstrong are working on plans to partner on a new brew pub; and,
• Most recently, the five-story office building that is home to Susquehanna Bank on the corner of High and Hanover streets was purchased by an affiliate of Redwood Real Estate Group.
These figures do not even include capital invested by private companies in various projects outside of the downtown during this period. Two projects are particularly noteworthy given how long the properties had previously remained undeveloped. Haggerty Steel constructed the first new building in the Airport Business Campus in at least 20 years and, just two months ago, 980 Glasgow LP purchased the former Snow King facility that had sat vacant and deteriorating for just as long.
Of course, there are quite a few long established Pottstown businesses that have continued to steadily grow and invest — too many to mention them all here. Precision Polymer Products is a great example. The medical device component manufacturer has been operating at its current Pottstown location since 1996. The company recently completed a $4.2 million expansion project including renovations to its existing headquarters and plant as well as an adjacent building allowing it to increase capacity, improve workflow, and expand its workforce.
Why now? Why is public and private investor confidence so high on Pottstown? There are certainly many contributing factors. However, none may be more important than the unprecedented level of collaboration and cooperation among the leadership of Pottstown institutions committed to furthering community and economic development.
The Borough of Pottstown and Pottstown School District share more than common geography. The elected officials of both governing bodies share a commitment to working together to promote development within the 5.5 square miles that is Pottstown. And they are not alone. Our local elected officials are joined in this effort by Pottstown anchor institutions including The Hill School, Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, and Montgomery County Community College as well as the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce, Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority, and Pottstown Area Industrial Development. These Partners for Success continue to work together to attract additional investment to an active, welcoming, and energized Pottstown community.