Stay up to date on current News & Issues.
Biden administration extends forbearance and foreclosure protections
Big developments move forward in Bucks
Phoenixville to consider repeal of per capita tax
Media’s open space, parks and recreation survey closes soon
Lower Merion ranked among best places to live and work from home
‘Once-in-a-generation’ anti-poverty plan sends $4.5M to community groups
Opportunity zones added to Realtors® Property Resource
Realtors® Property Resource (RPR) recently added Qualified Opportunity Zones to its platform. Realtors® can now use RPR’s map interface to display the opportunity zones and underlying properties. The feature is available in both residential and commercial modes. To learn more about opportunity zones in RPR, read this blog post: See Opportunity Zones In Action.
New Jersey rolls back short-term rental tax for some
Property owners who rent their Jersey shore homes directly are no longer responsible for the so-called Airbnb tax under a new law. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bipartisan bill after a push from rental property owners who said the tax threatened the state’s shore tourism industry. “Our shore economy adds tremendous vitality and dynamism to New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement. “Access to affordable rental properties for visitors and income on rentals for homeowners are the backbone of that economy.” The new law means that shore homeowners who manage rentals themselves — through personal referrals, yard signs or newspaper ads, for example — are no longer responsible for a tax of at least 11.625%. That tax went into effect late last year as part of the budget Murphy and lawmakers enacted, but the tax will still apply to other so-called transient accommodations managed through travel agencies or online marketplaces, like Airbnb or VRBO. The new law resulted in a sigh of relief among a coalition of rental property owners, including some from New York and Pennsylvania, who said the tax was stifling business. Murphy’s administration said the new law “more closely mirrors the original intent, which was to create parity throughout the rental industry.”
Source: Daily Times; 8/10/2019
Morrisville hears $100M redevelopment plan
Morrisville Borough Council and residents got a first look at a $100 million proposal to transform Williamson Park into a mixed-use development. The developer, Select Morrisville LLC, presented concept plans for Williamson Park Town Square, which would include two apartment buildings, a hotel, retail shops, restaurants and an amphitheater along the Delaware River. The proposal also renovates and constructs multiple fields for Morrisville Little League, which is centered at the park. The proposal is spearheaded by J.W. McGrath, a developer and civic designer, who was tasked by former Redevelopment Authority of Bucks County Director Bob White with coming up with a plan to help revitalize the struggling borough. “What we have given you tonight is the plainest design to be able to be built and financed,” said McGrath. “It’s not an arbitrary plan, it’s well thought out.” About a dozen residents spoke out against the project, fearful that the apartments would block the river view and create traffic congestion. Peg Mongillo, chair of the Morrisville Environmental Advisory Council, said the group wouldn’t recommend any development in the park unless it was for passive recreational activities. “At a time when the value of preserving open space is recognized on both federal and local levels, even toying with the idea of removing some of the last remaining open space is absurd.” The plan will need to overcome numerous hurdles, but council gave its blessing for the developer to move forward while reserving the right to alter the plans.
Source: The Intelligencer; 8/14/2019
600 apartments proposed for Oxford Valley Mall
Simon Property Group, owner of the Oxford Valley Mall, and Villanova-based developer Cornerstone Tracy recently appeared before Middletown Township officials to request a change in zoning that would allow for two apartment buildings at the mall. The vacant former Boscov’s department store would be demolished to make way for 600 apartments in two buildings, along with parking and luxury amenities. Simon attorney Denise Yarnoff and Cornerstone Tracy developer David Della Porta said the apartment complex units would act as a “catalyst” for the redevelopment of the mall. The property is currently zoned for general business, and housing is not allowed. Middletown supervisors expect to receive reviews from township and county planners by early September. A public hearing would be conducted over the proposed zoning change before it could be voted on, most likely at the October meeting, said township solicitor James Esposito. The Oxford Valley Mall opened in 1973 and continues to operate with two major department stores, JC Penney and Macy’s.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 8/13/2019
Lower Makefield residents turn out to oppose Wegmans
Hundreds of Lower Makefield Township residents packed a recent planning commission meeting to oppose a proposal to amend a zoning ordinance in order to establish a “mixed-use overlay district” around a 36-acre property named Prickett Run at Edgewood. Shady Brook Investors LP and ELU DeLuca Yardley LLC are proposing a Wegmans grocery story for the site, along with other stores, apartments and amenities. After a discussion with the developers, planners voted to continue the hearing and seek another venue to accommodate the crowd. Residents in attendance made it clear they couldn’t see or hear the presentation because of the large number of attendees. Residents can visit the Lower Makefield Township website for updates on the next meeting.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 8/13/2019
Density of proposed townhomes an issue in Lower Makefield
A proposed residential housing development at the site of Marrazzo’s Manor Lane Florist in Lower Makefield Township is scheduled to go before the zoning hearing board on Tuesday, Aug. 20. Developer Cedar Crossing Investors is requesting variances to develop the 2.75 acres with 11 single-family attached townhomes. The land is currently zoned R-2 for low-density housing that would allow three to four single-family homes to be built. The owners are seeking relief to triple the density allowed. “It is a much higher density, but it is consistent with what is surrounding it on the Sutphin Pines property,” Jim Majewski, the township’s zoning and planning director, told the board of supervisors at the Aug. 7 meeting. Other variances would be needed for buffering, height, impervious surface and front-yard setbacks. Supervisors voted to send the solicitor to the zoning hearing board meeting to represent the township’s interests and concerns, but did not actively oppose the requested relief. Supervisor Chairman Dan Grenier said he would like to hear what the zoning board thinks about the proposal before opposing it.
Source: BucksLocalNews.com; 8/13/2019
Northampton Township seeks volunteers for boards and commissions
The Northampton Township Board of Supervisors is seeking residents who are interested in serving on various boards and commissions. Applications are due by Wednesday, Oct. 16. The supervisors will interview applicants in October and November and appoint candidates at the Jan. 6, 2020, reorganization meeting. Applications are currently being accepted for the following boards and commissions: blighted property committee; building code board of appeals; historical commission; library board; parks and recreation board; planning commission; veterans advisory commission; and zoning hearing board. Click here for more information.
Source: Northampton Township; 8/12/2019
Affordable homes subject of 2020 Citizen Planners meeting
A panel of local professionals will discuss the affordability of housing during a Chester County 2020 Citizen Planners’ breakfast on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the West Chester University Graduate Center, 1160 Mc-Dermott Drive, West Chester. “Finding homes in the communities where [people] work is difficult,” said Chester County 2020 Chair Jock Hannum. “The housing issue touches on all segments of our residents. This is true for new graduates starting their careers, those living on fixed incomes, seniors, empty-nesters downsizing, and folks who provide services and amenities we all rely on.” Taking part in the discussion will be Derek Davis, assistant township manager of West Goshen, Malcolm Johnstone, executive director of the West Chester Business Improvement District, and Kathy McQuilkin of Suburban West Realtors® Association. The moderator will be Tommy Ciccarone of Precision Realty Group. The cost of the program is $25. Doors open at 7 a.m. and a buffet breakfast will be served. The program begins at 7:20 a.m. and concludes at 8:45 a.m. To register, go to www.cc2020.org/shop/. For more information, contact Chester County 2020 at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 484-680-5570. Chester County 2020 is a nonprofit organization helping to create livable communities by bringing people together to find common ground and then working to transform dialogue into action.
Source: Daily Local; 7/30/2019
Walking tour examines Johnsontown, ‘A Town Within A Town’
Chester County’s Town Tours & Village Walks program is a series of free summer strolls through historic neighborhoods, hamlets, villages and sites. On Thursday, Aug. 22, tours will be held in the Downingtown neighborhood of Johnsontown, which originated as a speculative development in the late 1800s and did not thrive initially. Tours will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and parking is available on the west side of St. Anthony's Lodge. Read more about the event here.
Source: Chester County; 8/14/2019
Kennett Square-based Regional Rail sold
A Los Angeles-based private equity firm completed the sale of Kennett Square-based Regional Rail to 3i Group, a private equity firm based in London. Regional Rail operates short lines and rail-related businesses in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region with more than 155 miles of track. Regional Rail serves a broad range of markets, including agriculture, lumber, energy and metal products.
Source: Southern Chester County News; 8/8/2019
Ashbridge complex will include 410 luxury units in Main Street at Exton
Local lawmakers and municipal leaders were on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony for Ashbridge, a development that will create 410 luxury residential apartments in six buildings near the intersection of routes 30 and 100 in Exton. Developer Steven Wolfson of Wolfson Group first approached officials at West Whiteland Township 23 years ago with his dream to build a walkable Main Street community. Phase One of that dream — the commercial development known as Main Street at Exton — launched in 2000 and has since become a thriving retail and dining destination. Ashbridge Luxury Residential apartments represents phases two and three. The new community will feature recreational amenities like a new trail that will enable residents to walk or bike directly to the newly renovated SEPTA/AMTRAK train station, a short walk from the development. Ashbridge is expected to open in spring 2020.
Source: Daily Local; 8/13/2019
Commissioners approve $2.5M for Community Revitalization Program
Chester County Commissioners unanimously approved $2.5 million in grants through the county’s Community Revitalization Program (CRP). “For more than 16 years, these CRP grants have helped to improve communities across Chester County, focusing on our urban areas,” said Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline. The City of Coatesville will receive an award of $500,000 for the construction of a new parking garage on Fleetwood Street, as part of the train station project. Kennett Square is being awarded $500,000 for stormwater management and other upgrades. The Borough of Phoenixville will receive $402,000 to help upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. The Borough of West Chester is being awarded $400,000 for streetscape improvements on South High Street. Since CRP began in 2002, the county has awarded more than $68 million in CRP and Community Development Block Grant program grants to the 16 urban centers (Coatesville and the 15 boroughs) for infrastructure improvements, according to Pat Bokovitz, director of Chester County Department of Community Development. All 16 have realized significant increases in their taxable assessment because of the CRP investment, with an average increase of just under 20%. That equates to a combined increased assessment value of more than $568 million.
Source: Chester County; 7/25/2019
Clifton Heights sues Upper Darby schools
Clifton Heights Borough has initiated a civil suit against the Upper Darby School District in the latest legal wrangling between the two governing bodies. At issue is the district’s plan to build a school on a portion of district-owned land in the borough. Clifton Heights solicitor Frank Catania filed a declaratory judgment suit at the county courthouse on Aug. 7, asking a judge to rule that the borough council and borough planning commission be allowed to review the school district’s land development application under four borough ordinances adopted in late May and the county’s 2016 subdivision and land development ordinance. The borough ordinances, numbers 867 to 870, amended the borough code in an attempt to slow down the process and make it more difficult for the school district to build a planned 160,000-square-foot middle school and new athletic fields on more than 13 acres of land on North Springfield Road, located in the Residential Conservation District (RCD) portion of the borough. Upper Darby School District officials say the ordinances specifically target the district as the only organization looking to build on that land and/or put a school on it. District spokeswoman Aaronda Beauford said the district will continue to move forward with the goal of building the school and will work with the borough to do so. In addition to these suits, the school district this month will formally end a decades-long lease agreement with Clifton that allowed the borough to use the land for its community events and sports programs. Clifton residents have been rallying against the district’s plans, saying they’re building upon the borough’s last open space.
Source: Daily Times; 8/13/2019
Planners recommend changes for Nether Providence development
Plans for a new duplex development at 310 Wallingford Ave., which have previously sparked opposition from some neighbors, will once again be on the agenda of the township commissioners. The supervisors will decide whether to rezone the five-acre property from R-3 to R-5, as the planning commission recommended. An R-5 zoning designation allows for greater housing density. Under the latest proposal for the South Media site, located adjacent to Sapovits Park, Progressive New Homes would construct a dozen duplex buildings containing two units each and a pair of single-family detached buildings, for a total of 26 units. This is reduced from a previous plan calling for 32 units that was rejected by the planning commission in May. The panel cited density, stormwater management, parking and other concerns when it issued its decision. The commissioners are expected to take up the revised plans at their meeting on Thursday, Aug. 22.
Source: Daily Times; 8/13/2019
Ridley’s Kinder Park redevelopment gets $1M grant
State Sen. Tim Kearney (D-26) announced a $1 million grant for the Kinder Park redevelopment project in Ridley Township, bringing total state funding for the project’s final phase to $3.68 million. Kinder Park is the Delaware County Housing Authority’s flagship redevelopment project. The funding will go toward the construction of a six-story, 125,000-square-foot building that will include 96 units of affordable housing for seniors as well as medical office space. The new funding was provided by the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), a statewide grant program designed to increase employment, tax revenue and other measures of economic activity. The grant follows more than $7.67 million in state funding for Kinder Park since the project began. The homes at Kinder Park were originally constructed as housing for defense plant workers during World War II. The site since became affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities, but lacked modern features and amenities. With the help of federal, state and local funding, Delaware County Housing Authority and Pennrose LLC began redevelopment in 2014. The project is now entering its fourth and final phase, with completion expected next year.
Source: Daily Times; 8/11/2018
Upland is home to historic Caleb Pusey House
The Caleb Pusey House is the only remaining house in Pennsylvania that is documented to have been visited by William Penn. The founder of Pennsylvania was good friends with the house's former owner and namesake. The nonprofit Friends of the Caleb Pusey House has administered and owned the nearly 10-acre property since 1960. The group rescued it from almost certain destruction and faithfully restored it, and the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. It was furnished with period pieces and is operates as a museum. The property is located at 15 Race St. in Brookhaven and is open to the public from May through October, on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.calebpuseyhouse.com.
Source: Reading Eagle; 8/9/2019
Lower Pottsgrove schedules sneak peek at new township building plans
Lower Pottsgrove Township residents and taxpayers are invited to review the concept drawings for a new township building at a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. at the township office, 2199 Buchert Road. Township Commissioner Ray Lopez, who heads the infrastructure committee, stressed that no decisions have been made and that the planning remains in the conceptual state. As it is now conceived, the new building would be one story and 16,000 square feet, more than twice the size of the existing building. The township administration and police departments would be housed in separate sections connected by an enclosed lobby. Drawings and cost estimates are being prepared by Bethlehem-based architectural and engineering firm Alloy5.
Source: Pottstown Mercury; 8/12/2019
Upper Providence to consider expanding municipal authority duties
Upper Providence Township supervisors will consider an amendment to the Municipal Authority ordinance that will increase the powers of the authority on Monday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m. at the township building, 1286 Black Road, Phoenixville. The Upper Providence Township Municipal Authority runs the township’s sanitary sewer system, and the proposed ordinance would add the same powers with respect to stormwater planning, management and implementation as necessary to achieve or maintain compliance with any state or federal stormwater laws or regulations. A complete copy of the proposed ordinance is available for review at the township office.
Source: Pottstown Mercury; 8/8/2019
Lansdale skate park plans move forward again
A third attempt at bidding out plans for a skate park in Lansdale is nearly ready. The skate park has been discussed since 2016, with council selecting a site and putting it out to bid in early 2018. The first round received no bidders, and the second round produced three bidders, but all with higher than budgeted costs from out-of-town companies. Since early 2019, Lansdale’s engineering firm has been looking for ways to split the bid requirements to attract more local firms. “I think the third time is the charm, and I’m confident that, come the beginning of November, we’ll have some action out there on Fourth Street. That’s my goal, anyway,” said Council Vice President Mary Fuller. About 30 to 40 skateboarders attended the parks and recreation committee meeting to voice support for the skate park and to hear an update.
Source: The Reporter; 8/11/2019
Upper Merion unveils Request for Service portal
Upper Merion Township has a new Request for Service portal that will allow residents and businesses to submit non-emergency requests to the township. The new system includes a searchable knowledge base as well as the option to submit information. Learn more here.
Source: Upper Merion Township eNews; 8/9/2019
Why new houses in Philadelphia (and elsewhere) aren’t made of brick
Nothing signifies Philadelphia’s rapid development like the sight of a metal or vinyl-clad house rising from a sea of red brick row houses. The new homes repopulating many of Philadelphia’s row house neighborhoods tower above their redbrick neighbors. Cost is a major factor in the shift away from brick. Read more here.
Source: Plan Philly; 8/9/2019
Two-story grocery store coming to Center City
Giant Food Stores will bring a two-story, 65,000-square-foot market to a new mixed-use project under development fronting the Schuylkill River and along 23rd Street in Center City. The grocery store will be located at Riverwalk, a two-building apartment complex being built by PMC Property Group. The Giant will be located in the first building under development at 60 N. 23rd St., which will have 291 apartments. A second tower with 321 apartments will be built at 2301 John F. Kennedy Blvd. The new Giant, opening in fall 2020, will also have an outdoor terrace and parking. Giant has been aggressively expanding in Philadelphia. The grocer, which is a brand owned by Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, has opened two of its small format Heirloom Markets in Philadelphia and plans to eventually add one in the Queen Village and Northern Liberties neighborhoods.
Source: NBC Philadelphia; 8/14/2019
A first look at Fashion District Philadelphia, at the former Gallery mall site
The nearly one million square feet of the new Fashion District Philadelphia, formerly known as The Gallery mall, are being readied for a grand opening on Thursday, Sept. 19. Workers are putting finishing touches on the newly updated shopping, dining and entertainment complex. The overhaul of the old 1980s shopping mall keeps the same basic architecture of the Gallery: an underground concourse with a food court flowing into Jefferson Station, two stories of retail connected by escalators through a central atrium, and a third floor with a movie theater, restaurant and bar. The most significant change is the elimination of the anchor tenant bisecting the space. Most recently, a Big Kmart store sat in the middle of the mall, making it difficult to pass from one end to the other. At the time of its opening, the mall’s tenant occupancy rate will be at 60%. The AMC movie theater and an “amusement center” with bowling and arcade games called Round 1 are expected to open in November. A rotating showcase of interactive art called Wonderspaces is planned for December.
Source: WHYY; 8/14/2019