Perkasie - Rebuilding Town Center Destroyed by Fire in 1988
Perkasie, Bucks County, PA
Perkasie’s aging, yet charming original Victorian Town Center was demolished in the late 1960s as part of a Federal Modernization of America initiative. This central Town Center block remained vacant for nearly 20 years as a gravel lot. Out of desperation a contractors hardware store was built on the site.
Then, in 1988 a devastating fire destroyed the remaining central blocks of the downtown. These last parcels were left vacant after the fire as open dirt lots, remaining this way for nearly 30 years.
Directly after the fire the Perkasie Towne Improvement Association was formed as a 501c3, non-profit, volunteer business organization. Their main focus was to try and save and rebuild their downtown. The group created numerous events, promotions and fundraisers. Yet, despite their dedication and hard work, their town center still languished.
In 2013, Perkasie Borough and the Perkasie Towne Improvement Association, in a collaborative partnership, hired Barth Consulting Group as their economic development consultant to revitalize and rebuild their Town Center.
Barth Consulting Group (BCG) began analyzing, from the 30,000 foot perspective, all the town center properties, who owned them and how the existing business uses functioned and interrelated.
Next BCG looked backwards into Perkasie’s history and archives to gain a historical perspective of its past. Victorian Perkasie was a thriving community built along the railroad with a Town Center train station. Perkasie was a thriving community with many factories and businesses.
Victorian Perkasie was also a destination, resort community for Philadelphians. What is now Perkasie’s Menlo & Lenape Parks had been a private amusement park.
BCG courted new investors, businesses and developers downtown. There were many hurdles to downtown development, namely zoning and parking requirements.
Zoning & Parking Solutions:
- Created Town Center Zoning
- Overlay District: Waived Parking Requirements
- Allowed Mixed-Use Development
- Allowed 100% Lot Coverage
- High Vacancy Rate
- Provided imaginative solutions to vacancies
- Repurposed multiple blighted properties
- Secured $40,000,000 in new downtown development
Town Center Business:
- Courted new retail and restaurants
Provided site tours throughout Borough
- Navigated municipal zoning & codes
- Advised on business plans and financing
- Provided marketing & promotion
- Coordinated ribbon cuttings & press releases
- Produced active social media campaigns
- Provided site tours throughout Borough
Barth Consulting Group met with the two independent owners of the empty lots to find out why they had remained vacant for 25 years. it was actually the result of a disagreement between both parties. One party had blocked the other with development plans that prohibited the one parcel from being developed.
BCG created an imaginative solution that allowed the front property to be developed by creating the zoning overlay that eliminated parking requirements. This in turn immediately had the second parcel complete their plans and begin construction.
The results of these efforts was the redevelopment and construction of the front parcel on 7th & Market Street, known as the American House.
BCG courted new developers, secured the sale, worked with the architect and found a low interest Downtown Revitalization Loan through Bucks County.
Both parcel represented $4 million in new investment and were redeveloped from an empty lot into a two mixed-use, three-story buildings with five retail spaces and 16 apartments.
BCG courted five new retailers that included Rise & Grind Cafe, Bloom Flower Company, Hickory Stick Ice Cream, Salon 33 and Old Glory Barbershop.