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