Bucks County Herald

Perkasie sees surge in growth of economy

“Unprecedented anywhere else in Bucks County”

MELINDA RIZZO

Business continues to boom in Perkasie.

A year-end overview of Perkasie’s economic development and growth presented by Stephen Barth, Perkasie economic development consultant, indicates strong, continued growth into next year and beyond.

“Everyday growth here in Perkasie is really unprecedented anywhere in Bucks County,” Barth said.

Barth said new jobs, new housing development, new business investment and rising property values all contributed to dynamic and continued economic growth and gains throughout the borough.

“New businesses are creating new jobs,” Barth said.

Some highlights from Barth’s presentation included:

– An agreement with Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to redevelop the Perkasie Train Station. “Built in 1888, it’s going to be exciting to work through this year (redevelopment) with SEPTA,” Barth said.

– Shelly’s Supply will become Shelly’s Elevations Showroom, a high-end designer kitchen cabinet and renovations regional showroom, which would “allow us to cross-pollinate with other businesses like Bucks County Soapstone,” in the area, Barth said.

– American House welcomed two new tenants, Rita’s and Bloom Flowers, Barth said.

– Continued downtown activities attract regular, growing crowds to Perkasie events like the recent Christmas Tree Lighting and Perkasie Farmers Market, voted the best farmer’s market in Bucks County last year, Barth said.

– The RAM, a new restaurant expected to open in 2018 leads the way for a fresh dining scene including more new eateries, cafes and restaurants.

– Bucks County Intermediate Unit now occupies the former Block Buster Video store – vacant for about eight years – at Perkasie Square. “They team special needs students’ life skills with creating job opportunities,” Barth said.

– Hidden Meadows housing development homes will sell at nearly double the price of a Perkasie home, Barth said.

– The former Delbar property was recently sold and is planned as a residential community with 85 high-end apartments and 10 townhouse units.

– Pennridge Airport is recruiting tenants with approved land development in place. “(We are exploring) ways to recruit very high end, high employment companies to the community,” Barth said.

But challenges ride along with new development and attracting new investors, according to Barth.

Barth said scoring local, state and federal tax credits could be challenging for large developers looking to rehabilitate buildings and former manufacturing properties.

Borough Manager Andrea Coaxum said electric rates could also be a challenge for large business development.

“When you are purchasing a lot of power any discount amounts to (saving) a lot of money,” Coaxum said. She said council might want to consider a “very high user” rate, in addition to the use scale it currently has in place.

Coaxum said any new development as well as building renovation, regardless of the project size or scope, should be completed with energy efficient means in mind.

Council Vice President Jim Purcell said Perkasie’s power rates and independent electric department delivery services rival other public utilities.

“We have a 99 percent reliability rate, which is something PECO and PPL can’t compete with. We keep the lights on,” Purcell said.

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