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Economic Development Studies

Master Planning Reports to Secure Revitalization Funding

Creating Economic Development Studies as amendments to Comprehensive Plans helps secure and meet state funding grant requirements to revitalize communities.

Shaping your Vision

Barth Consulting Group creates data-driven Economic Development Studies to analyze a community through resident and business surveys, town hall meetings and with detailed research reports summarizing community engagement and aspirations. The finalized Economic Studies provide insight and pathways into how you can Revitalize your town.

These Economic Development studies address common issues that plague many communities such as blighted properties, vacant storefronts, sustainable municipal revenues, and unwanted or undesired development and offer solutions to fix these problems.

What is an Economic Development Study Plan?

Municipal Economic Development Studies unify and articulate a community’s vision by forging a partnership from amongst municipal leaders, businesses, organizations, and residents gaining first-hand perspectives to craft their own future with new and desired development. This process assists elected officials in shaping a shared community vision, created by voters and is based on the collective goals of the entire community.

A completed Economic Development Study is then approved by elected officials through resolution, then amended into the municipality’s Comprehensive Plan, thus qualifying them for state grant programs. State organizations such as the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) require current Economic Development plans to be in place before awarding grants. These plans outline strategic goals, show community support and define clear action plans to achieve project goals.

Examples of successful Grant Awards for our municipal clients include a $100,000 DVRPC Main Street Economic Development Study that led to a $600,000 Multi-Modal Sidewalk Grant for New Britain Borough and a $30,000 DVRPC Parks Master Planning Grant for Main Street Hatboro.

Barth Consulting Group provides strategic and high-level consulting for municipalities to design and facilitate strategies shaped through community engagement. This Development by Design™ process takes into account the dynamic and ever-changing economics within communities and how they interrelate and impact each other.


Perkasie Reviews Its Phoenix-Like Evolution – Feature Article – Bucks County Herald

In The News

Barth Consulting Group Revitalizes Perkasie

1988 fire leveled homes and businesses

Feature Article – Bucks County Herald – September, 27th 2018

Perkasie’s Phoenix continues to rise from the ashes of a devastating decades-old fire.

The current revitalization of Perkasie’s historic district and downtown comes after a disastrous 1988 fire, which leveled homes and businesses leaving them in smoldering ruins.

Stephen M. Barth, Perkasie’s economic development consultant, gave a progress presentation at a regular borough council meeting Monday night, highlighting Perkasie’s continued growth as well as some recent milestone achievements.

– The relocation this fall of Down to Earth Café and The Bread Box and Bakery inside the American House at 7th and Market streets.

– American House, a mixed-use building with apartments and street-level retail space, is 100 percent leased.

– A green light for Phase I of the Pennridge Airport expansion project, with an estimated $20 million in investment and the creation of hundreds of new jobs.

– Projected October announcement by Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority [SEPTA] tenant for the historic Perkasie Train Station.

– Former Shelly’s Supply is now Shelly Design Center, offering high-end kitchen and bathroom services.

– The opening of 7th Street Studios, an independent art center offering drawing and painting classes and open membership artist studio space.

“I like to use the quote ‘the best way to predict the future is to invent it,’” Barth said.

The quote, attributed to both computer scientist Alan Kay [in 1972] and Abraham Lincoln, epitomizes the manner in which Perkasie’s leadership has approached the downtown’s reinvention, according to Barth.

He said meetings as far back as 2013 took stock from the community – both business owners and residents, collecting elements from town hall meeting “wish lists.”

“They [borough council] asked how do you incentivize growth. How do you bring people back to Perkasie,” Barth said.

Barth said slashing prices for building permits was one of the ways borough council did just that.

“In 2015, the council reduced the price of building permits by 50 percent …not just for new construction but for residents to keep up [or enhance] their properties,” Barth explained.

The result was a stunning jump in permits since 2017 of 84 percent, Barth said.

Real estate transfers, another income generator for the borough are also up. “Since 2013, the transfer tax was up 118 percent and we’re on track this year for another 50 percent increase,” he said.

New housing as well as attracting commercial development has been part of Barth’s mission as an economic development consultant.

“I bring developers into Perkasie and they see the town, and they see how great it is, and they ask me ‘What else is here?’” Barth said


Economic Development – Measuring the Returns

A Blighted Project Case Study – Perkasie, PA

Perkasie Borough is a charming, Victorian-era town with 8,500 residents. It’s branded tagline is “America’s Hometown,” for its Norman Rockwell-like setting and beauty. Perkasie boasts America’s Oldest Tree Lighting Ceremony dating to 1909 and recorded with the US House of Representatives.

Perkasie’s Town Center was largely destroyed by fire in 1988. There had been no major development of any kind for 20 years. Perkasie’s dynamic Borough Council initiated a new visioning and forward thinking Comprehensive Plan in 2013 and hired Barth Consulting Group to collaborate with the Bucks County Planning Commission who produced the plan.

Case Study: Perkasie Borough, PA

  • Redeveloping a blighted, 16-acre Industrial Complex
  • 165,000 sq/ft industrial building
  • High visibility industrial building bordering two parks and shopping center.


  • Company closes
  • Declares Bankruptcy
  • Lays off 50 employees
  • $4 Million Foreclosure Note
  • $1.5 Million DEP Environmental Clean-Up
  • 165,000 sq/ft Industrial Building crumbling and in poor condition
  • BCG courts multiple industrial tenants
  • The $5.5 Million base cost, plus $2.0 Million in renovations do not make this parcel feasible for redevelopment.  Existing industrial properties available that are one third the price.


  • Property sits between two municipal parks
  • Appropriate zoning should be residential
  • Changed zoning from industrial to residential
  • Courted residential town home developers
  • Swapped residential zoning of existing industrial park to retain zoning balance

Economic Development – The Results

  • Perkasie Woods – Ryan Homes
  • 144 – Unit Townhome Complex
  • 101 – Sold as of September 2018 – Average Sale price $345,000
  • Real Estate Transfer Taxes – 101 units @ $345,000 = $34,845,000 @ .5% = $174,225
  • Developer Impact Fees – 1x Dedicated to Parks = $1,500 per unit x 101 = $151,000
  • Perkasie Borough Electric- 1x Tapping Fees = $1,500 per unit = $151,000
  • Perkasie Borough Electric = Approximately $2,000 per household x 101 = $202,000 annually
  • Perkasie Regional Water Authority – 1x Tapping Fees = $979,200
  • Average Household Income = $100,000 x 101 = $10,100,000 Total Income
  • Earned Income Tax on $10,100,000 @ .5% = $50,500 annually
  • New Disposable Income to Perkasie = $10,100,000 supporting all goods and services

The Upside of Economic Development – How the Community Benefits:


  • $100,000 of developer impact fees went directly to Menlo Park for playground improvements and new equipment.
  • Enhancements included-
  • Air Walker (Zip Line)
  • Spiral Adventure (Jungle Gym)
  • Slides
  • Hexagon Net (Spider Web)
  • Swings
  • Improvements to existing  Pavilion
  • Improvement to Parks drainage system

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Economic Development – Revenue Beyond Your Current Tax Base

Economic Development

Beyond Your Current Tax Base

Balancing your budget without increasing taxes or cutting services….

Economic vitality increases municipal tax revenues through increased Real Estate Transfer Taxes, Earned Income Taxes, Local Service Taxes all the while revitalizing your downtown and repurposing blighted buildings.

Increasing tax ratables through strategic economic development leads to new revenue streams that can be reinvested back into the community.

Orchestrating this cycle of prosperity takes visioning, imagination, and planning.

Revealing the Revenue

Client: Main Street Hatboro, Hatboro, PA 19040

  • $25 Million – Toll Brothers – Hatboro Station
  • 72 – Unit Transportation Oriented Development
  • Opened – April 2018 – 25 Units Sold of 72 to date
  • Average Price: $366,000
  • Townhomes sales total $9,150,000 Million in 2018
  • Generating: $47,500 – Real Estate Transfer Taxes,
  • $18,750 – New Earned Income Taxes

Client: Perkasie Borough, Perkasie PA 18944

  • $43 Million – Ryan Homes – Perkasie Woods
  • 144 – Townhome Project
  • 72 – Units sold – Average Sale price – $300,000
  • Townhome sales as of 2018 total – $21,600,000
  • Real Estate Transfer Taxes = $108,000
  • Developer Impact Fees to Borough Parks – $1,500 per unit = $108,000
  • Borough Electric Utility Tapping Fees – $1,500 per unit = $108,000

Client: New Britain Borough, New Britain, PA 18901

  • Commercial Real Estate Sales – 3rd Quarter 2018 = $8.2 Million
  • Real Estate Transfer Taxes related to sales = $41,000

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Development by Design™

Development by Design ™

Revitalizing Your Municipal Budget

How investing in Revitalization can balance your budget.

Downtown economic factors have shifted with the advent of online shopping. Why are some towns transitioning better than others? Being proactive versus reactive is the difference.

Some towns lose momentum for a time, and then pray to pull themselves back from the brink. Other towns have great, underutilized assets, infrastructure and prospects, yet face challenges in revenue growth without a dreaded tax increase. For most towns, economic development can seem like an endless roll of the dice, reacting to unsolicited, unwanted, and undesirable proposals from developers. These relationships are often adversarial.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Barth Consulting Group’s – Development by Design™ Strategies courts and cultivates the type of development desired by municipalities. In the communities we serve, residents want the same basic things: vibrant downtowns, economic vitality, high quality of life; a place they are proud to call home.

Revitalizing communities often starts on Main Streets – its impact is broad reaching and ripples far beyond town centers into all areas of the community. Some aspects of revitalization are seen front and center in downtown districts where vacant stores are filled, new shops open, new signs go up, facade improvements are made and Main Streets are given a facelift with new paving, lighting, awnings, etc. Other visible signs of growth are new jobs, new housing, new factories and the repurposing of blighted properties.

Municipal revenues can be increased through sustainable economic development that has far-reaching, long-term impact on municipal budgets and the regional economy.

Development by Design ™ is a forward thinking, proven protocol formulated by Barth Consulting Group. We collaborate with municipalities to cultivate action plans that create and facilitate desirable and sustainable growth. Our high-altitude, 30,000-foot perspective analyzes a community, its assets and utilizes economic data generated through resident surveys, town hall/stakeholder meetings to develop and articulate a proactive revitalization plan.

Municipal revenues can be increased through cultivated economic activity. An environment of vitality inspires new investment and increases new Real Estate Taxes, Real Estate Transfer Taxes, Earned Income Taxes, Local Service Taxes and Fees & Permits.

Can Revitalizing your community work for you?

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New Britain’s main street plans moving forward

Daily Intelligencer – by James Boyle, Staff Writer, August 5, 2016

Officials from New Britain, Bucks county and Delaware Valley University have discussed for the past three years the plans to redevelop a stretch of Butler Avenue (Business U.S. Route 202) into a Main Street-style, walkable university town.

“There’s been a lot of talk and ideas for the Butler Avenue corridor,” said Lynn Bush, executive director of the Bucks County Planning Commission. “We are now seeing something actually happening.”

Bush highlighted two major steps that have propelled the project: the New Britain Borough Council’s July 12 approval to demolish the former Knoell factory on Shady Retreat Road and an adoption of a mixed-use zoning ordinance for the 7-acre property.

The former site of the woodworking company sits minutes away from Delaware Valley University and plays a major role in the redevelopment. Warminster based County Builders purchased the property in 2014 for $2.4 million through a subsidiary, Ashley Property Management, LP.

Representatives of the developer previously have said their plans include a three-story building with retail and office space on the first floor and apartments on the top floors. A presentation of the Butler Avenue project Wednesday afternoon gave a preview of how it would look.

Using Newtown Township’s Promenade at Sycamore and Jefferson streets as a model, the new buildings would combine residential and commercial spaces, with storefronts abutting the sidewalk and parking access in the back.

“There’s a lot of potential for this site,” said Matt Walters, a community planner with the Bucks County Planning Commission. “We encouraged a mixed-use property like the Promenade in Newtown. It will contribute to the Main Street character in New Britain.”

The Bucks County Planning Commission partnered with New Britain to create a draft plan to develop Butler Avenue between Bristol and New Britain roads. Funding for the study came from a $100,000 grant by PennDot’s Transportation and Community Development Initiative. It was presented to the public during a May meeting at Delaware Valley University and is under review by the New Britain Planning Commission. If the draft is accepted at the commission’s August meeting, it will be sent before the New Britain Borough Council for final approval.

“We’ve had a lot of input from the community groups,” Walters said. “We don’t expect any major changes. Since we started meeting with them in 2013, they have been pretty clear with their vision and where they want to go.”

The document lays out a set of building and landscaping guidelines designed to help the borough maintain its plan for a business friendly Main Street district. Besides the university village, it also includes landscaping and sidewalk suggestions for the Town Center shopping center at Butler Avenue and Lenape Drive, stretching down to Bristol Road.

A third section dubbed Historic Village sits in the middle, from Beulah Road to Lenape Drive. Sidewalk, crosswalks and pedestrian friendly lighting will connect the three sections, each separated by its own gateway that will give the borough a stronger identity, said Walters.

“We created safe boundaries for pedestrians that promote the neighborhood’s walkability,” he said. “It gives the corridor a real sense of place and let’s people know they are in New Britain Borough.”

Member Spotlight: Perkasie Borough

Feature Article – Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce

June 28, 2016


While downtown revitalization efforts may be more prominent now, years of planning and discernment have gone into the Borough’s current economic vitality and investment strategy yielding residents, business owners and borough officials results they can see, touch and feel.

From modernization efforts that never got off the ground in the 1970s to a catastrophic fire in 1988 that wiped out an entire block in the downtown, to national recognition last year for holding the oldest Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the country, Perkasie Borough is a small town, American innovator.

With the goal of creating prosperity, several elements came together. Local leaders built a comprehensive plan with the help of the Bucks County Planning Commission.

“We held public meetings to gather people together, and what people wanted, in Perkasie,” explained Stephen Barth, Perkasie’s Director of Economic Development. Borough officials and planners took on a master plan process in 2013 to gather up a “wish list” from residents and community members.

A winning combination of strategic partnerships, local leadership and input from residents and business owners continues to gain traction and fuel Perkasie’s reclaimed vision.

Maintaining a walk-able downtown business district with community support and patronage, ongoing sustainable economic development and an attractive small town community vibe, build upon Perkasie’s assets.

“Our number one goal was to rebuild the downtown. In order to create dynamic revitalization, you have to bring various groups together,” Barth said.

Stimulating interest from entrepreneurs, new business start-ups and attracting national and international firms, meant considering what makes a town appealing to investors.

For starters, borough officials slashed building and improvement permit fees by 50 percent. The result has been more than 30 new business openings, according to Barth.

The byproduct of lower permit fees has been a ripple effect, which spurred residents to “spruce up” their homes and properties, too. What looks good, feels good.

The American House at Perkasie, located at 7th and Market Streets and the Perkasie Commerce Center, are examples of new buildings resulting from partnerships with investors, Perkasie Town Improvement Association and the Borough. Apartments and retail are mixed-use hallmarks of the new buildings.

Attracting housing development is another gauge of interest in a community, according to Barth. When people are buying homes and locating somewhere, it’s because they see value in the community and want to be part of it.

Major companies such as Free Will Brewing Company attract visitors from out of town, and serves residents in the community.

“Free Will is a major player and their headquarters is right here,” Barth said.  “The popularity of microbrews” is a larger national trend, playing out on the local level in downtown Perkasie.

A new [rooftop dining] pub is planned next door to Perkasie Borough Hall, located on West Chestnut Street in an historic building, is viewed as another dining option for visitors to the downtown.

Options to serve Perkasie natives, as well as new residents are part of the overall plan.

“We have about $100 million in new housing developments underway and a plan for a hi-tech center at the Pennridge Airport,” Barth said.

With new residents comes disposable income and with new business development comes investment and validation in the community and its infrastructure.

The Pennridge Airport development on Ridge Road is estimated to have 700,000 square feet of space under roof and is aimed at attracting high tech companies and jobs to the area. “Industrial space, high speed internet and a hotel and conference center” are part of the proposed plan, Barth said.

Barth said leaders are using a holistic approach to creating prosperity, and it’s working.

“We were told we couldn’t accomplish this much in 20 years, and we have done it in two,” Barth said.

For more information on Perkasie Borough log onto


A small-town boom

Inquirer-RealEstate-ASmallTownBoom-Page1The Philadelphia Inquirer
Real Estate
by Alan Heavens
April 10, 2016

Development is matched by high demand. One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region’s communities. From what Realtors say, Perkasie is a place coveted by those enamored of small-town living. A whole lot of building designed to enhance that small-town experience is going on now in the Bucks County borough 30 miles north of Philadelphia.

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