Second revitalization project kicks off in Perkasie

Brian Pedersen//September 8, 2015

Second revitalization project kicks off in Perkasie

Brian Pedersen//September 8, 2015

The new building, to be called Lesher’s, will rise next to the American House at Perkasie, another mixed-use development which broke ground in June and is under construction at Seventh and Market streets.

For the new project, the first floor will be 3,000 square feet of retail space and the second and third floors will be luxury apartments, with each apartment at 1,100 square feet, said Dan Soliday of S.F. Realty Corp.

Soliday and Tom Skiffington are the project developers, property owners and business partners and had been part of the initial rebuild of the downtown in the late 1980s and 1990s when they built the ReMAX 440 building across the street from this project, said Stephen Barth, economic development director for Perkasie.

The building had once been a five and dime store, Soliday said. A resident of Perkasie since the age of 3, Soliday remembered how the building once was a regular stop to pick up candy before walking to school.

“I grew up less than a block from that; every day I’d walk to school past the building,” he said.

A massive fire in 1988 destroyed the building, built in 1923, and the adjacent American House property. Both sites had sat vacant until now. The Lesher’s site has been used as a parking lot over the years, he said.

Soliday, now 60, said it was time to rebuild.

“With the interest of the American House being rebuilt, we felt the time was right,” he said. “The economy has done a turnaround in the past couple of years. All of that helps to bring business to the downtown Perkasie area.”

The property will have a mix of brick and cast stone, similar to the original structure, Soliday said. Soliday said he has some interested retail tenants, but nothing confirmed.

The estimated construction costs, including land development, are slightly less than $1.5 million, he said. The architect is Charles Reichl of Allentown.

“I think the property itself will fit well with the property next to it,” Barth said. “They are anticipating the building is going to be ready for occupancy by February.”

The American House property, which includes retail on the ground floor and luxury apartments above, could be ready for occupancy by January.

The developments mark the start of a revival for a tiny borough struggling to attract growth and more business.

“There is a growing national trend for what they call mixed-use development,” Barth said.

This project, in particular, will help bring in new retail, which benefits local businesses because people visiting a new retail spot entails walking past other establishments in the borough, he said.

Also, people living in the heart of the downtown will be patronizing the businesses, he said.

A good town-center mix of properties should have about 80 percent retail and 20 percent office properties, Barth said. However, Perkasie has about the opposite in percentage mix. As a result, the downtown is mostly empty after 5 p.m.

He would like to change that however, by helping the borough create a second business cycle, which projects such as these can bring.