Category Archives: Press Coverage

Perkasie Borough’s $60 Million Pennridge Airport Business Park Takes Flight

Scientific device maker slated as first tenant of $60M industrial project

By Brian Pedersen, March 5, 2019 –  Lehigh Valley Business

barth-consulting-groupA manufacturer in the scientific instrumentation realm is the first tenant slated to occupy a $60 million development on 260 acres near Pennridge Airport.

Pennridge Development Enterprises is developing The Pennridge Airport Business Park, a group of six buildings in Perkasie planned for land next to the airport.

Developer Robert Brink described the first tenant as a manufacturer in the Bucks County area with another location in New Jersey that would consolidate its two locations into one when it opens at the business park. Brink said he did not sign a lease yet and declined to disclose the company but said it would occupy 30,000 square feet of a 100,000-square-foot-building expected to open in July.

It is the first of six proposed buildings for the business park, aimed at attracting manufacturing companies, particularly those in the pharmaceutical and scientific instrumentation industry, he said. He described the buildings as not particularly suited for warehousing or distribution since they do not offer immediate access to major highways.

“That’s the kind of interest we are getting,” Brink said. “Manufacturing is what we are getting.”

He said he’s hoping to leverage the adjacent mid-size corporate airport he owns to attract business.

He has 50 tenants at the airport, mainly private plane owners and a few corporate-owned planes, he said.

Brink described the perfect tenant as a high-tech, biotech firm in the pharmaceutical field, but one that would use both the airport and the industrial park.

pennridge-airportStephen Barth, president and founder of Barth Consulting Group of Doylestown, said one asset to the economic development occurring in Perkasie is to have an executive jet airport as part of this industrial business park, particularly for attracting manufacturers.

“It allows us to court national and international tenants to the site,” Barth said. “If you have hundreds of employees working on equipment with the asset of the airport, they can bring in executives, customers … sales people from here can fly out.”

Barth is the economic development consultant for Perkasie and helped the borough start a revitalization effort over the past few years that led to the construction of hundreds of new homes, in addition to building renovation projects throughout the borough.

As part of the decision process in choosing a site, many companies also want to know where their employees would live, Barth added.

When Perkasie officials reviewed the comprehensive plan for the borough several years ago, they decided to move future industrial uses out of the borough and into the industrial park.

“The thought was that having those new industrial-type buildings there would hopefully bring in high-paying jobs,” said Andrea Coaxum, borough manager. “Based on the location, there is not going to be a lot of truck traffic. It’s not an ideal space for warehousing but it’s an ideal space for research and high tech development.”

As an additional amenity, Brink also proposed a hotel and brewpub as part of the project.

Though the development is moving forward, Brink admitted the business park has faced challenges.

“To open a greenfield like this is expensive,” Brink said.

The project required a lot of infrastructure and the Pennridge School District denied the approval for a tax incentive program through the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act, or LERTA, he said.

“It’s a shame,” Brink said. “The school district rejected it. I don’t think they understand the value of it. They have the mistaken impression that tax abatement goes to the developer. It goes to the tenant who’s trying to get started. That tax abatement helps him get started.”

According to minutes from a Pennridge School District finance committee meeting on Aug. 14, Megan Banis-Clemens, the board president, said the district’s attorney does not believe the project qualifies for LERTA status. She asked the board if any other board members had any interest in moving forward with granting LERTA status, but none did.

While the loss of the LERTA does not stop the project, it does make it harder because a potential tenant might go to a community that offers a tax incentive program such as that, he said.

Meanwhile, state incentives such as tax credits for job creation, research and development and new equipment purchases could apply to the site, Coaxum said.

Brink said his second building is pad-ready, meaning that it’s ready for construction to quickly start once the first building is done.

Part of the future development is in neighboring East Rockhill Township.

Brink said his company has owned the property and surrounding area since 1980.

“Given the market for industrial property, I thought this was the appropriate time for the company to invest in some industrial property,” Brink said. “We’ve made some significant improvements to the airport over the years.”

Flourishing Communities- planting the seeds for 2019

Featured Article

Bucks County Herald February 14, 2019


Perkasie has the three components of a flourishing community.

“Economic Development happens one business, one residence, one brick at a time,” remarked Stephen Barth, consultant for Economic Development for Perkasie Borough.

That’s the report Stephen Barth of Barth Consulting Group, of Doylestown, made to Perkasie Borough Council at a regular business meeting Feb. 4th, 2019.

Barth is the borough’s economic development consultant.

He said three components in equal parts were needed for a community to flourish: a healthy and vibrant downtown, a growing housing sector and a robust business and industrial sector.

According to Barth, Perkasie has all three.

“With millions of new revenue, the community is blooming,” Barth said.

Real estate transfer taxes, which measure the health of the housing markets, are significantly up over 2012, and they continue to rise.

“In 2012 we averaged about $100,000 in real estate transfer taxes per year. For the past two years we’re close to $300,000 per year, or three times that amount,” Barth said.

He credits new housing starts and development along with reduced costs to build in Perkasie. About three years ago, Borough Council voted to reduce impact and permit fees. Barth said that decision has been steadily yielding fruit.

“In 2018, $128,894 in revenue was generated by reduced building permits and fees, “cut in half created to help developers invest in our community, and residents have been fixing their homes as well,” Barth said.

Barth said 2019 looked strong, as new businesses are slated to open, begin or complete construction.

Those include three large business ventures, as well as several small and mid size ones:

Among the large ventures are:

– The Ram Pub, at 606 W. Chestnut St. (adjacent to Town Hall, Perkasie’s administrative offices), by developer and restaurateur Joe Wade. It will feature three dining levels with space for private parties and business functions on all four levels, as well as rooftop dining.

Wade, who also owns the Jamison Pour House in Jamison and The Station Tap House in Doylestown said “everyone’s been waiting a long time for this. We want people to say, meet me at The Ram,” Wade said.

– Nourish Kitchen & Catering located at 619 W. Market St. Owned and operated by partners Christine Hawkins and Alicia DeMarco, the pair features locally sourced produce, catering, retail and home meal delivery options.

– EFE Laboratories Inc. is a contract engineering and manufacturing company that will re-locate its business from Horsham to at 700 W. Park Ave. the former Secant property and facility. EFE will add roughly 70 new jobs to Perkasie by the end of 2019. CEO and President Kip Anthony plans to relocate another business, ETS Electro-Tech Systems, Inc., to Perkasie from Glenside. Anthony purchased the 30,000-square-foot Secant Medical Inc., property and will redevelop it to house his two businesses.

“I’d like to create a technology center and incubate other companies and mentor and grow them, with the idea of them becoming seed tenants,” Anthony said.

– Free Will Brewing Co. plans to expand.

– The Perk, a restaurant with live entertainment, plans to expand.

– Pennridge Airport property and industrial complex.

– Richlandtown Mill has transferred to new ownership.

Barth said rebranding of Perkasie Towne Improvement Association was under way.

“Some of our other large businesses outgrew the borough. We expect five new restaurants to open in Perkasie. This year, I want efforts spent in growing the economy,” Barth said

by Cliff Lebowitz

buckscountyherald.com

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
MELINDA RIZZO

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

 

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 www.perkasieborough.org.

 

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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Perkasie Pipes Up – Covered in Lehigh Valley Business Journal

Lehigh Valley Business Journal
By Brian Pedersen, August 31, 2015 at 8:00 AM

In June in Perkasie, a three-story building started going up on a property vacant for nearly three decades following a devastating fire.

It was a groundbreaking with significant meaning for residents, officials, executives and business owners. Perkasie, you see, may be a tiny borough – but it boasts big plans for economic development.

Bucks County Soapstone Co. on West Walnut Street is an example of a downtown Perkasie business that renovated its storefront, adding planters to beauty the streetscape. – (Photo / Brian Pedersen)

It was a groundbreaking with significant meaning for residents, officials, executives and business owners. Perkasie, you see, may be a tiny borough – but it boasts big plans for economic development.The $2.3 million American House at Perkasie represents the beginning of a surge in revitalization throughout the borough, including hundreds of new residential units, many of them upscale, and the potential to attract businesses using corporate jets at Pennridge Airport in Perkasie and neighboring East Rockhill Township.

Add a growing push to highlight and promote downtown businesses and attract a nighttime business cycle of entertainment and dining options, and the borough has the makings of a rejuvenation that could spark strong economic growth. It could even serve as a potential model for other smaller municipalities to follow. Continue reading "Perkasie Pipes Up – Covered in Lehigh Valley Business Journal"

Downtown Perkasie’s Revival Covered in News-Herald Article

Our exciting revitalization project in Downtown Perkasie continues to receive positive press coverage. This article appeared in the Perkasie News-Herald in November.

Rising From the Ashes

Perkasie News-HeraldPerkasie’s downtown poised for resurgence nearly 30 years after devastating fire

Written November 26, 2015 by Eric Fitzsimmons

PERKASIE » For 27 years after a fire that swept through Perkasie’s downtown, the site of the American House Hotel sat vacant. Now a new development that broke ground on the same site this summer stands to be the hallmark of the borough’s recent revitalization efforts.

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