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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Should Easton RDA Help Absentee Landlords?

Almost a month ago now, I attended what was supposed to be a Lehigh Valley Mayors' Sustainability Forum. It was a dog-and-pony show for Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. He went through one of his usual powerpoints in painful detail, causing several people to plunge to their deaths from the windows of the old Bethlehem Steel Research Center, perched atop South Mountain. Mayors Ed Hozza and Bob Donchez had doctor notes and were absent. But Easton Mayor Sal Panto was there. By the time they got to him, someone made sure that the power point was broken, so Panto's speech was mercifully brief and a welcome relief.

Panto said his long-term goal was to provide homes for everyone among the working poor, and mentioned that the Easton Redevelopment Authority (RDA) is helping achieve that goal by picking up old vacant properties, rehabbing them, and then selling them to first time-home buyers who are at or below 80% of the median income in Easton.

Although that may be Panto's goal, that's not what is happening. Since he has become Mayor, many of the RDA sales are going to out-of-town landlords who form LLCs, not first-time homebuyers. I've counted over 20 of these corporations.

Let me give you an example with a West Ward property located at 1234-38 Chidsey Street, a collection of three row homes. It was owned by Easton and turned over to the RDA. In 2008, the RDA conveyed it to "Cimcom Properties" for $10,000. That company ended up giving the property back to the RDA in 2010. Two years later, the RDA sold it to a Danielsville couple masquerading as "Ricca, Inc." for $55,000. Yes, that's $55,000 total for three units with rehabbed exteriors, gutted to the studs inside and ready for easy rehab.

Just one month ago, "Ricca, Inc." sold the Chidsey property to Long Island landlords for the tidy sum of $232,500. The Danielsville couple with the corporate name turned $55,000 plus rehab cost into $232,500, probably doubling their money.

The only persons I see making out here is this couple, and now, a Long Island landlord. This is classic real estate speculation.

Unfortunately, this is only one example.

It's a great way to use public funds to keep the working poor in their proper place.

Addendum: The realtor involved in this deal was Michael Brett, which I find fascinating. Brett was at that time employed by the RDA as a "Community Development Specialist," but apparently no one thought there was a conflict with him pocketing a sales commission as a realtor for RDA properties. In fact, Panto rewarded him with a slot on the Zoning Hearing Board.

Two years ago, Brett and Simon Silk Mill developer Mark Mulligan teamed up for a side business and formed one of those mysterious corporations to buy two fire-damaged South Side properties at well below their market value. They could use money escrowed with the City for fire restoration. I blew the whistle and ruined everything. An angry Panto vowed he'd never comment here again.

Until he did.


Dennis R. Lieb said...

Since I live on Chidsey Street I think it is only fair to tell you that if home ownership is the goal it isn't working. Before these three homes were sold (under one deed as a multi-unit property) my street was statistically over 50% owner occupied. After this "rehab" and subsequent lease-up it is now over 50% tenant occupied.

Thanks Mayor.


Anonymous said...

At least none of the Chidsey St. buildings have collapsed......yet.

Anonymous said...

The FBI needs to put a wire on one or more of Panto's associates.

Anonymous said...

Bernie Bernie mornin,
This has been the case for many many years in the ABE triboro area except now the arena circus agenda colludes together as one of the many shell trix play upon the public that choose to participate¿!)$ You speak of Allentowns king with such a positive pandering stance¿!)$
This is my new statment of it, the hemrode with a inflamed boil on it located in the spinkter with the zit and cyst to the west¿!)$ This is the description of the powerpoint prestation perpatrator¿!)$ The fermented pot o political blue juice now put in the pressure cooker is the shit stew comming from the anal canal to be served upon the public¿!)$

They are all digging and grasping at straws for the defence of the circus destruction engineered for service to do diservice¿!)$ Clueless one and all as a criminally corrupt institution as a whole yet seprate¿!)$
Read what I redd and comprhend as a computer jargon twist to there circus secret sauce served up, putz¿!)$ Not much for this gaget goo, but I do do what I do and so good at it¿!)$
redd for Republican
patent pending

Anonymous said...

Ok, so Sal is a little easy on his pals.
In Allentown he'd be Mr. Clean.

Anonymous said...

So a building on Northampton St. collapsed.
Big deal.

Anonymous said...

First of all if god had bessed you with child and the buildings neglected decay fell on your child there would be hell to pay¿But than god dont like ugly and I am not ReFerring to apperiance in this particlar statement this time¿!)$ Go back under tha rock u crawled from beneath near the hudsons waste dump site with the mayors laywer as well as ada dimmigg¿!)$
Minutes til showtime but were is the hemrodde with the inflamed boil pulupasiZed¿!)$
redd for Republican
patent pending

Anonymous said...

So Sal is a joke.
Big deal.

Anonymous said...

But you fail to mention all the ones that did work: 1008 Ferry Street, 733 Ferry Street, 940 Ferry Street, 633 Ferry Street, two on the 600 block of Pine Street, 621 Ferry Street, one on 11th Street in conjunction with the Land Trust, and at least one other on South Side. I also believe two of the four on South 8th Street that were finished were sold to homeowners.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I;ve done no study but perhaps I should. I understand the RDA at one tome would sell to anyone with the dough for an appraisal. That's no way to encourage first time homebuyers. That just encourages out of town landlords.