Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Open House at 733 Ferry Street: Easton Redevelopment Authority Green Rehab Project Is Complete

733 Ferry Street, green rehab complete

Posted by: Noël Jones

At 4:00 p.m. today the City of Easton's Redevelopment Authority will be holding an open house to show off the transformation of 733 Ferry Street from condemned multi-unit property to green-rehabbed single-family home. Above is the new and improved property. Below are pictures from before and during the rehab. This is definitely a great improvement to this block, both in terms of curing blight, and in terms of encouraging single-family home-ownershihp and cutting down on parking density on the
streets caused by the multi-unit conversations allowed over the last few decades. The city is taking a solid step in the right direction to halt conversions, cure blight and reduce rental density in the West Ward.

This rehab program will continue until the seed money from a Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant and HUD, and money reinvested from sales of rehabbed properties, runs out. To my knowledge this is the second successful green rehab in the West Ward, a third is underway on Pine Street, and the city hopes to be able to do at least one more before the money runs out.

733 Ferry Street, before the rehab

733 Ferry, midway through the rehab


Untouched Takeaway said...

It looks great, Noel!

I wonder - would it be advantageous to do a cluster of these rehabs as the money became available? I mean either next door or across the street from one another?

I would think an owner could feel more secure and confident that they weren't the only diamond in the rhinestone bin, you know?

They did a really fine job on this one.

tunsie said...

I love u noel,,,,anony mouse

noel jones said...

UT--I just got back from the opening and the house looks beautiful inside. Everything is new and made from green materials but they also left bits of the old character intact, like the radiators. It's insulated top to bottom, and the boiler is about the size of mini-bar, mounted on the wall in the basement. Bamboo floors, newly tiled bathroom, nice open layout to the design of the bottom floor...

The Redevelopment Authority IS taking a clustered approach to the rehabs--they are focusing mainly on the Ferry street corridor in the West Ward from 6th to 12th Street, and will go as far as Pine and Spruce Streets on either side as they look for properties to rehab. I spoke with Gretchen Logenbach at the opening, and the houses that have been completed or are still in progress are:

*1008 Ferry--de-converted, rehabbed and sold to a single-family occupant
*733 Ferry--same
*633 Ferry--also completed, I believe...or near completion
*Another undisclosed address on the 600 block of Ferry--the city's offer has been accepted
*672 Pine--under construction

So that's five houses in a loose cluster in the area identified by HUD as the most in need in terms of subprime loans and foreclosures. They also did one house on Berwick Street on the South Side, and are hoping to be able to secure one more property within this grant.

Logenbach also said that the city has applied for NSP III (the last grant was NSP II) for $1 million and they are hoping that because they've done such a good job of coming through on their rehabs that they might have a good chance of getting it again, in which case they could start buying and rehabbing more properties.

I met the couple, Melissa and Geo, that bought the home, and they seem really nice and enthusiastic about their new house and feel very positively about the neighborhood--they moved here from Brooklyn, like I did, and Melissa said the neighborhood reminds her of her neighborhood there.

These rehabs are a really great thing, and I just hope we get the next grant, so that the city can continue to do more to combat blight, reduce rental and parking density, and attract more middle-class couples and families to the area. Good stuff.

I'll tell you what though--I'm completely envious of the utility bills for these rehabs. The owner of one of the other rehabs was there, and she said that all her utilities are electric, and that her worst bill last winter was only about $130/month (including HEAT)!

Untouched Takeaway said...

I think that's so great - the cluster approach. I just feel it will be more effective, you know?

And I like it that they're leaving some "historical" bits untouched...room enough the world for more than one century :)


Anonymous said...

his housing program is really a great idea. I was at a meeting when the mayor announced it and frankly didn't believe it. Well I do now and in talking to someone in cityhall they said that he is now considering new houses on vacant lots. This type of program is important to the residents. This coupled with the parks improvements, the street sweeping and better code enforcement is making the west ward not only better but in a shorter period of time than I thought it would take.

Keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

This is not the only housing rehab program running in the WW. CACLV is running a similar program under HOME and purchased a Bushkill St. property from foreclosure.

noel jones said...

Anon 6:21--I believe that HOME is another city program that focuses mostly on grants for home repairs. CACLV has its Land Trust program that is doing a similar program, but it is less targeted and clustered than the Redevelopment Authority's program. The Land Trust focuses on property anywhere in the West Ward, whereas the city's program went after the corridor identified by HUD as being the most at-risk in terms of subprime loans and foreclosures.

The Land Trust is also doing good work, but their approach is a little different. The first house they chose was on a block where most of the houses and yards were already nice, because they didn't want it to start to become blighted like other blocks. There are apparently two strategies under NSP, according to Alan Jennings in a previous post on the Land Trust project: 1) focusing on "tipping points" and 2) focusing on "redevelopment." The city's strategy under the NSP grant is to target for redevelopment the corridor most at-risk for foreclosure, and the Land Trust is focusing on tipping points:


it's great to have both programs running in the West Ward at the same time. I'll have to check into the Land Trust when I get a chance and find out how many properties they have rehabbed now. The two programs started at roughly the same time, with the same amount of money ($500K from the NSP grant) but Jennings was also anticipating other sizable grants when he posted comments to the article, so hopefully they've been able to do more properties.

I don't remember an open house being announced for the Bushkill property...I wonder if it's been sold yet--Does anyone know?

noel jones said...

According to Ed Sieger of the ET, 627 Ferry is the latest home closed on by the city for this green rehab program, and the city is looking for at least one more property:


Justin Collins, Project Coordinator said...

The Lehigh Valley Community Land Trust (www.LVCLT.org) has been busy acquiring and renovating homes over the past year. However, this is hard to tell if you only look at the Community Land Trust’s activity in the West Ward! At present, four homes have been completed: two in Bethlehem, one in Catasauqua, and one in Wilson Borough. The Community Land Trust did have a bid closing for 1207 Bushkill several weeks ago. However, we decided to put the property back out to bid, and will be doing so by next week. The Land Trust will also be putting another West Ward property—31 N 9th Street—out to bid by the end of August. Over the next year the Community Land Trust will be much more active in the West Ward.

I should also note that the Land Trust is in constant conversation with the Easton Redevelopment Authority. This means that the Land Trust is open to, but not limited to, working in the Redevelopment Authority’s targeted areas. Either way the aim is to complement all the good things that they are doing!

noel jones said...

Justin, thanks for posting!

Radiator cover said...

Its great.