Perkasie - Rebuilding Town Center Destroyed by Fire in 1988

Perkasie, Bucks County, Pa.

Challenge

  1. perkasie 1910Town Center destroyed by fire and vacant since 1988. The key anchor site at 7th & Market Streets eliminated a density of retail that had previously existed there and left two vacant lots in the heart of the town.
  2. Two separate investors owned the two lots. Originally, they intended to develop the sites together. However, a disagreement escalated a division where they each created new divergent development plans that blocked the development of either parcel. This stalemate seemed to have no apparent solution, leaving both parcels vacant. Imagine taking the heart of any borough, having it destroyed by fire and left empty. Community events created and designed to revitalize the downtown, while very successful, still had not restored the Town Center. We were hired to facilitate the redevelopment.

Solution

Perkasie Borough and the Perkasie Town Improvement Association jointly hired us with the top priority of redeveloping the 7th & Market Streets Town Center anchor site.

perkasie newThe Borough had engaged the Bucks County Planning Commission to craft a new Comprehensive Plan. We worked closely with Bucks County, specifically on the Economic Development section of the plan. There were some specific goals that had been articulated early in the process by the Council and community through town hall meetings and surveys. We began working on these goals in a strategy that would implement the key goals prior to the Comprehensive Plan being finalized and voted on. In this way, the Borough would accelerate its goals several years ahead of schedule. Waiting for the Plan to be finalized and then implemented would delay any projects by at least two years waiting for the process of finding developers and investors, going through approvals and land development, then construction. We created a collaborative relationship with the PTIA and the Borough that realigned new proactive procedures for working with developers, reduced all fees and permits by 50%. We also worked with the County's newly-created Community Development loan program established by the Bucks County Industrial Development Authority.

We began courting architects, developers and investors to visit Perkasie. At this time, the key parcel came up for sale as the result of the death of one of the owners. We were able to find an architect/developer team and secured an agreement of sale to redevelop the site of the former America House destroyed by fire. We courted a developer who would construct a project that was compatible with the existing Victorian architecture of Perkasie.

A secondary gain from the courting of developers was an excitement and interest in Perkasie, a relatively untouched, beautiful community nestled in Upper Bucks and essentially untouched by development as the community lies off major roads. These other developers, impressed with Perkasie's beauty, strong school system, large parks, and proximity to Doylestown and the Lehigh Valley purchased all the large available land tracts designated in the Borough's zoning map for future residential development.

perkasie under constructionResults

The results of our efforts were redevelopment and construction of the 7th & Market Street site of the America House, the development and construction of the adjoining parcel, the development and construction of 300 new homes that include town homes and singles.

The economic benefits are many. The construction of 7th and Market represents $4 million in new development, the creation of approximately five new restaurants and retail stores with new jobs, and 16 new luxury apartments. It also led to $100 million in new housing developments that will bring in $20 million of new disposable income annually into the community to support local businesses.