Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for April 8, 2013

City leaders discuss reviving Rock Hill’s Cherry Road

ROCK HILL Business leaders and residents have spoken up about the need to revive Rock Hill’s Cherry Road, and city leaders say they’re listening.

Many Cherry Road business owners say they want the same economic development attention that other areas of the city get, such as Rock Hill’s downtown and its business parks.

Development on Cherry Road is challenged by buildings dating back to the 1950’s and retail areas with more asphalt than needed but not enough landscaping. Also, there are a lot of commercial uses that don’t meet the city’s current zoning regulations.

Rock Hill planners have spent the last few months meeting with neighbors and businesses along Cherry Road between the newly-developed Riverwalk area on the Catawba River and Heckle Boulevard.

City staff members have divided the five-mile thoroughfare into seven sections for study. Rock Hill City Council members have already heard feedback from three of the seven areas.

Late last month, several council members said they’d support a Cherry Road “revitalization strategy.” Among the ideas being discussed are incentives for businesses to locate or expand and making changes to zoning regulations. No specific proposals have been developed yet.

With Dave Lyle Boulevard flourishing and Rock Hill developing a plan to revive downtown, some people feel as though development is moving away from Cherry Road, Councilwoman Kathy Pender said during a March meeting that focused on Cherry Road redevelopment.

The time staff members spent asking residents and businesses what they need and want, Pender said, is overdue and greatly appreciated.

Mayor Doug Echols suggested at the meeting that city officials could be proactive in the revitalization by offering incentives to businesses who invest in improving the look of their stores.

“It’s a slow process to wait for people to have that ‘a-ha’ moment themselves,’” he said.

Council members did not take a vote on Cherry Road plans during the meeting.

‘Keep it from a downward spiral’

Before development along Dave Lyle Boulevard, Celanese Road and in the downtown area, Cherry Road was Rock Hill’s shopping destination.

“I remember 25 years ago when Cherry was still the address,” said Will Whitley, partner with Charlotte-based New South Properties.

His company owns the North East Plaza Shopping Center at the corner of Anderson Road and Cherry Road, where stores like Verizon Wireless, Luigi’s Pizza and Spaghetti House and others have set up shop.

About six years ago, the company bought the 18 acre shopping center–once the home of Bi-Lo before it moved across the street.Since 2007, New South Properties has invested about $10 million into the center, Whitley said, giving it a new roof, parking lot, landscaping and a fresh paint job.

The company has paid for all of it without incentives, he said.

The city of Rock Hill’s business permit process and other development services have been easy to navigate, Whitley said, but renewed attention along Cherry Road and some real estate tax incentives would go a long way in restoring the corridor.

“That would be really helpful when you’re trying to turn an area around and keep it from a downward spiral,” he said.

Cherry Road is still thriving despite competition from “political forces” moving economic development to the south, Whitley said.

“I’m a believer in Cherry Road–great traffic, great history,” he said.

Making Cherry Road part of ‘college town’

Three miles away from Whitley’s plaza is another believer in Cherry Road: Charlie Ruffalo, owner of Substation II in front of Winthrop University.

Ruffalo, who has owned the restaurant on Cherry Road for about 27 years, wants to invest in an outdoor patio for customers.

His plan to expand seating could benefit from an idea city leaders are tossing around concerning zoning rules and building regulations.

Part of a Cherry Road revitalization strategy could include changes to zoning requirements, making it easier for businesses to expand or re-fit spaces that are close to sidewalks and nearby properties.

Developing on Cherry Road, Meyer said, is not like starting from scratch and some exceptions to rules may be needed to help businesses thrive.

A new patio at Substation II could cost between $5,000 and $8,000, Ruffalo said.

The patio would help build a “cafe-friendly” environment, he said, which is a goal of Rock Hill and Winthrop’s plan to bolster a “college town” atmosphere.

Like some other business owners, Ruffalo says incentives programs for new or existing stores on Cherry Road could be a shot in the arm for investment. They also could help Cherry Road businesses thrive.

“Give us the incentives you’re giving Old Town to do things to make a pedestrian and cafe-friendly (area),” he said.

Rock Hill’s Downtown Now program helps new businesses by providing paid rent rebates, improvements to downtown buildings and business license fee reimbursements. The area often is called “Old Town.”Immediately after the city’s Cherry Road strategy meeting in March, city council members approved giving “growth management incentives” to three downtown businesses and to a company moving into its Riverwalk business park.

Rock Hill will reimburse Physicians Choice Laboratory Services $89,192 in impact and building permit fees for moving into Riverwalk. Over the next five years, the company plans to invest $24 million and bring in 364 new jobs.

The city is also reimbursing a building permit fee for downtown’s Millstone Pizza restaurant, which opened earlier this year in the Old Town Market Hall, owned by Main 7 LLC.

The market hall’s developer and the owner of a neighboring building on Caldwell Street have spent a total of about $500,000 to renovate their space.

The city council approved reimbursing the building owners $11,142 in fees paid to the city. Millstone Pizza, which has created 20 new jobs in downtown, will be reimbursed $1,288 in fees.

Some council members questioned the incentives, saying during a March city council meeting that they didn’t know more reimbursements would be made to the downtown businesses.

Last year, the council approved paying $39,000 toward the pizza restaurant’s rent over the next five years and voted to set aside about $775,000 for the Old Town Market Hall development.

Councilman Osbey Roddey asked if March’s incentives for downtown would be the last round of money the council would be asked to spend on the buildings. Rock Hill’s Economic Development Director Stephen Turner said yes.

Mayor Pro-Tem John Black questioned how investors find out about incentives because March’s applications for “growth management incentives” were the first four requests since 2010.

Any new business making investments in downtown can apply for the incentives, Turner said. Until recently, he said, there have been no major renovations or investments in downtown since 2010.

It wasn’t possible to know the dollar amount last year because the “growth management incentives” package is a reimbursement, Pender said.

Councilman Kevin Sutton said the city’s spending on the downtown project was like a “never ending cycle.”

Sutton cast the lone dissenting vote to the incentives for downtown and voted unanimously with the rest of the council on the Physician’s Choice reimbursement.

His “no” vote wasn’t against the downtown businesses, Sutton said, but against the fact that the council wasn’t told about the predicted expense last year.

“As a council, we can’t get a deal–think we’ve got a deal–and six months later find out there’s five or six thousand more dollars,” he said after the meeting.

“It’s just like this project…has been an ongoing incentives flowing out. And there’s got to be a fairness issue. I mean, there are other businesses in town, other people downtown. You know, when do you put too much emphasis on one small project?”

The push for more development on Dave Lyle Boulevard and in downtown has been successful, Whitley said, but Cherry Road has a lot to offer.

The road’s traffic count and connecting streets to another major commercial hub–Celanese Road–give Cherry Road the potential to resurrect as a regional shopping destination, he said.
Riverview Road, particularly, with its proximity to Riverwalk, could be a prime spot for the city to start with incentives, Whitley said. Riverwalk includes a walking trail; plans call for a large residential and commercial development project.
Doing something to draw development in such as a multi-family complex, he said, could “freshen up and beautify that area.”

Article source:

Hundreds of vendors show off wares at annual home show in Bethlehem – The Express Times

From those looking to give their homes an entire facelift to others wanting a small improvement to a single room, thousands flocked this weekend to the 38th annual Spring Home Show at Lehigh University‘s Murray H. Goodman Campus in Bethlehem.

Sponsored by the not-for-profit Lehigh Valley Builders Association, the event drew an estimated 10,000 people by Saturday night — which was the total last year for all three days — according to Chuck Hamilton, executive officer for the association. Hamilton projected 14,000 visitors by the end of the event today.

“People normally come here with a specific project in mind, but then they wander around the show, see other things and those projects and ideas grow,” he said. “I love to call it the ‘Home Idea Expo.’”

This year’s event had 275 vendors with 427 booths between Lehigh’s Stabler Arena and Rauch Fieldhouse. About six vendors were outdoors showing off patios, sheds, fire pits and other equipment.

“Outdoor living is very popular right now,” Hamilton said. “Because you can expand your home without really expanding.”

Inside, vendors ranged from those offering information on security systems to window installation, granite countertop remodeling, carpentry, bath fitters, basement waterproofing, in-ground pool installation and heating and air conditioning. Some provided seminars throughout the day.

Hamilton said some things that were catching eyes were a copper roofing display and built-in grills with countertops.

Natalie Faroun, of Hellertown, who came with her three daughters, said a new backyard pool and a closet are on the family’s wish list.

Stone pond

“This is an easy venue,” she said. “It’s convenient to get information about your project.”

Ellyn Elstein, president of Creative Closets in Allentown, said patrons ask her about ways to stay organized when downsizing their homes. She said those in small spaces want less furniture in rooms and lean toward pieces that serve dual purposes, such as the company’s desk/bed.

The piece can literally transform a guest room into a workspace for crafts, scrapbooking, gift-wrapping or to be used as a home office, but still holds a bed underneath when needed.

Other event-goers seemed interested in a booth set up by Granite Transformations, with a location in Bath. The company’s product, made up of 95 percent granite and 5 percent polymer, can be placed on top of existing countertops and showers.

“This is a very visual product, people have to see it to understand it,” said Bob Hochella, a sales consultant who has been displaying the product for nine years at the show. “We get a lot of leads here.”

Allentown resident Marie Volack was in search of window replacement, noting her existing windows don’t stay up. When asked if she was going to use one of the show’s vendors, she replied, “Most likely. I got a lot of information here.”

The show is in its 14th year at the Bethlehem venue and before that the event had been held at the Agriplex at the Allentown Fairgrounds. Moving to Stabler and Rauch tripled the space for the event, Hamilton said.

“It allowed us to expand and service more builders and remodelers,” Hamilton said. “We really have worked hard to keep this show strictly home-related.”

Article source:

Warr: Hunterdon businesses that’ll get your place ready for summer living – Hunterdon County Democrat

Al Warr


This is the time of year when suddenly we notice clumps of yellow daffodils nodding in the sunshine. They remind us that soon a blanket of colorful flowers will cover the landscape.

Easter came early this year. But Harding’s Willow Brook Farms was all decked out as usual on the last weekend in March. It was their annual fundraiser for the Pattenburg Volunteer Fire Company. There is a picture on Facebook of Dale Harding presenting the check to Capt. Dan VanFossen.

“We’ll be having another big weekend for Mother’s Day,” said Doug Harding. He is the business manager here.

Harding’s is a full-service garden center, nursery, florist and gift shop. Right now they are heavily involved with spring cleanups, mulching, landscape design and re-design, installations and maintenance.

“We also do lots of outdoor adult playgrounds,” Harding added. These “playgrounds” include design and installation of patios, walkways and walls, fire pits, pond features and other outdoor settings. Many people are looking to revitalize older landscapes, he explained.

Harding’s is filled with annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs, trees and shrubs. Hanging baskets are all over the place, and balled ornamentals are ready for you to take home.

“We only deal with local growers,” Harding said. So the evergreens and shrubs are accustomed to growing in local climates.

Some 15 people are employed here, including an agronomist. Free consultations and free deliveries of mulch and topsoil are available. They cover all of northern New Jersey and into the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.

Harding’s Willow Brook Farms occupies a former dairy farm — look for the big red barn at 534 Route 614 in Pattenburg. For more information, call 908-735-6900 and follow on Facebook.

Plants are a personal obsession of mine. There is not one square inch of space left for the seedlings now growing inside my house.

I could take a lesson from Karen den Hollander. She and her family started growing things several years ago, and now it has become a business.

The Garden Shed of Pittstown is located close to Quakertown, at 1153 Croton Road. The place was a beehive of activity when the family recently staged their grand opening.
The Garden Shed has annuals and perennials, hanging baskets, ground covers, seeds and bulbs, hats and gloves, garden tools, and more. All the plants are raised here from seed. The brand-new greenhouse expands the space and will make things easier.

There is no shortage of helping hands — there are eight children in this family, and all of them are involved in the operation: Kaitlyn, Eric, Scott, Jeffrey, Thomas, James, Benjamin and Jayden.

In addition, Alan Hendricksen handles the displays, and Diane Venitelli handles marketing and social media.

They are looking to create a place where people can come and relax and enjoy the gardens, the den Hollanders told me. They are working toward creating a park-like setting of inspirational vignettes of different ideas.

What started out as a roadside stand has grown into a full-fledged operation and continues to expand. They are beginning to offer pottery and other items.

Expect to find pansies, phlox and primroses along with geraniums and begonias, to name a few. In addition, there’s dusty miller, dianthus, verbena, lobelia and others. Also, find here birdhouses, sock monkeys and bags of lavender.

For more information, go to TheGardenShedOfPittstown on Facebook or call 908-627-4007. If you are visiting, look for the two large white pillars with baskets — the sign is not ready yet.

“I grew up in the nursery business,” said Charles Jenkinson. With 28 years experience behind him, he now runs Autumn Splendor Landscaping. It offers full landscaping and hardscaping design and installation.

There is an architect on staff for the design work. Once the master plan is completed, crews begin installation. “A master plan can be completed all at once,” he said. “Or it can stretch out over several years to finish — before the whole plan comes together.”

Landscaping can include everything from seasonal cleanups to mulching. Lawns can be seeded or created quickly using sod. Irrigation systems are provided. Equipment can handle everything from small shrubs to large trees.

Hardscaping includes patios, walls and walkways, steps, retaining walls, driveways and more. Special attention is paid to the color of stone or pavers used.

Specialty masonry is provided for backyard living. Outdoor grills and kitchens, along with fire pits and fireplaces, are integrated with existing or planned areas. Water features, koi ponds and poolscapes are specialties.

These days, many people with pools want the surrounding area redesigned and redone, he told me. His firm has a great deal of experience doing this kind of work.

Estimates here are free. Jenkinson is certified, licensed by the state, fully insured and offers warranties on work done.

He recommends calling now for summer work. If permits are involved, it can take a great deal of time to design and get approvals in place so that work can begin.

Autumn Splendor is in Ringoes and provides its services in “about a 30-mile radius.” This includes Hunterdon, Somerset and Mercer counties.

For more information, including many photos, visit or call 908-361-9725. It’s also on Facebook.

Reach Al Warr at 610-253-0432 or

More Hunterdon County news:

Article source:

Lewiston Gardenfest looking for vendors

April 7, 2013

Lewiston Gardenfest looking for vendors

Staff reports

Niagara Gazette
The Niagara Gazette

Sun Apr 07, 2013, 03:55 PM EDT

Niagara Gazette — Longer days mean spring sunshine and warm summer days not far behind, bringing thoughts of gardening and landscaping projects. The Lewiston GardenFest, presented by Lewiston Garden Club, is now accepting vendor applications for its 8th annual event on June 22 and 23 along Center Street in Lewiston.

Businesses and vendors who sell items related to gardening, horticulture and the outdoors, including nurseries, landscapers, garden artists, builders, and others which enhance beauty in the garden, are encouraged to apply.

“Expert gardeners and those with a novice green thumb come from across Niagara County, Western New York, and Southern Ontario, to gain ideas for beautifying their outdoor spaces at the Lewiston GardenFest,” said Sharon Low, vendor chair and president of the Lewiston Garden Club. “Over the past several years we’ve welcomed vendors from across the country and encourage anyone who sells garden or outdoor-related items to apply for our 2013 event.”

Vendors who are interested in participating are encouraged to call Sharon Low at 297-5925 or visit by May 1 for an application. The application fee varies from $125 – $225 based on the size of the vendor display.

In addition to shopping opportunities, the Lewiston GardenFest also features open gardens of local Lewiston residents, speakers, master gardeners, and representatives from floral societies to answer questions. For more information, visit

Text Only
| Photo Reprints

Niagara Gazette. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed.

Article source:

New uses for old swimming pools

Not long ago, Tucsonans wanted pools the way Southern Californians wanted convertibles and surfboards.

And while a pool is still at the top of the list for many Tucsonans considering a major home upgrade or house hunting, some are opting to fill in their pools for use as gardens, koi ponds, smaller water features, sunken patios, play areas or cisterns.

The reasons range from “I don’t swim” and environmental concerns about chemicals and using too much water to seasonal visitors concerned about the cost of maintaining a pool that sits dormant most of the year, and the safety of children and pets.

“Most pools are over-maintained and under-utilized,” says Jason Isenberg, owner and principal designer for Realm, a Tucson firm that does almost anything to do with the area outside Tucson homes and businesses. That includes, in the last couple of years, turning pools into gardens, ponds and kid and pet play areas.

Isenberg said a pool is no longer always seen as an asset. “We’ve actually had real estate agents come to us and ask for the most economic water-harvesting feature, whether it works or not. It’s actually started to offer attractiveness to buyers,” Isenberg said.

“Even when they are used, they’re not used in their entirety,” Isenberg says. “Not only does it eat up natural resources, (there is) exposure to chemicals, maintenance costs, and this usually massive thing eating up a large portion of your real estate. A lot of empty- nesters don’t use them, and snowbirds don’t use them a good part of the year. They’re just sitting there dormant most of the year,” Isenberg says.

It’s still not a big part of Realm’s overall business, which includes yard design and landscaping, along with water-smart xeriscaping, rainwater harvesting and shade structures to play areas, fire pits and outdoor kitchens. “In the past year we’ve probably done a dozen of them,” he said. But the interest is rising, and Isenberg expects it to continue.

What’s involved

Converting a swimming pool to other uses isn’t difficult, but there’s more to it than getting a load of dirt and five friends with shovels on a Saturday afternoon. Isenberg says there are definitely wrong and right ways to do it – and it’s a lot of work anyway. He said the bottom of the pool must be punctured so rainwater can drain through the rocks and soil used to fill it in, even if a plastic liner is used – as is sometimes done, particularly for conversion to use as a koi pond.

Isenberg favors boring clean core holes in the bottom of the old pool, making it easier to restore to swimming pool use should a future owner want to do that. Then crews lay down layers of large rock and top that will a layer of fabric made from a recycled material that will pass water, but not soil and other material from above that could clog the openings between the stones and the drainage holes. That’s topped with soil that is compacted to a specific density so anything on top of that doesn’t sink or settle. If it’s going to be used as a pond, a plastic liner is used. For other uses – patio, play area or just reclaimed backyard space – the liner isn’t necessary, Isenberg says.

Either way, the bottom of the old pool must be punctured. If you don’t puncture the bottom of the pool and allow for drainage, Isenberg says, “you’re going to have putrification of water and thus mosquitoes. It’s going to be a mess.”

Bruce McDonald of Tucson Koi Water Gardens, 3372 N. Dodge Blvd., favors using the same specialized application concrete, known as gunite, used in swimming pools to form a shallower pond, since he feels that liners may leak and are tough to repair. But he, too, says the original pool bottom should be punctured to allow for drainage.

For conversion to use as a koi pond, McDonald says a shallower depth is usually required, because most pools hold too much water for an efficient koi habitat; a pool provides far more depth than the fish need and that means a lot more water to filter, increasing the cost to the operation. “The linings don’t last as long as concrete. Most of the work we do is with concrete. It’s a cleaner end product and more robust.”

property values

Attitudes toward pools may be changing, and there are more people who see the lack of a pool as an asset than in the past, says Tucson Realtor Jenni Morrison. But she said most people in the market for a $400,000- plus home still expect a house to have a pool.

In fact, Morrison said it’s rare to find a home that lists in the $400,000-plus range that doesn’t have a pool. And sometimes that’s a problem, Morrison says. She said she recently had clients looking for a house in that range that didn’t have a pool and she didn’t have much to show them.

Morrison should meet Sue and Red Redlaczyk, who have a 2,700-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two baths and an immaculate koi pond in the Sam Hughes Neighborhood near the University of Arizona. The house is listed for $479,900.

“We’ve had a lot of people who said they don’t want the koi pool because it takes up space where they could have kids’ play space,” says Sue Redlaczyk. “It’s mainly people who have kids. We have the big three-car garage that takes up a lot of space. So the yard itself wasn’t all that big to begin with.”

Still, the Redlaczyks hope to find a koi fancier or someone willing to convert the shallow (3-foot-deep) swimming pool pond to other uses. “They could have it as an all-brick patio if they wanted to, or turn it into a small play pool or spa,” Redlaczyk said.

“I do think it’s a very specific buyer. And you’ll have the people who aren’t into the koi or ponds who still find it an attractive feature to them,” said Desiree Mooney of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the Redlaczyks’ agent for their house. “It’s so tranquil. You go into that backyard and you have no idea where you are, near the university in the middle of the city. You’re seconds away from the city.” But it does, Mooney said, “narrow the buyers’ pool down.”

On the other hand, Mooney says, the Redlaczyks know they are not going to recover the money they spent on the pond, and some buyers will see it as space they can put to other uses. The way Mooney looks at it, “it’s a gorgeous home. And it has so many wonderful features,” and she hopes buyers will see the pond as a free upgrade or space that can be repurposed.

While Mooney said it’s not yet a trend to fill in a pool, she said she’s handled three properties in the years she’s been in real estate that have mentioned in their property disclosures that the yard contained a filled-in pool.

And, in general, she said, “I think people too are turning their yards into space where they can find peace and enjoyment. There isn’t as much cash for people to go out and do the things they used to. So I’m seeing more people do things to their yards. I’m seeing more and more that they’re putting more money into their yards more quickly. We’re taking refuge in our own yards more than we used to.”


Mark “Eb” Eberlein found another use for a pool he and his wife, Gwen, didn’t want when they bought an otherwise great west-side house several years ago.

“My wife didn’t even want to look at a place with a swimming pool, but I said there’s all kinds of things you can do with a swimming pool. I decked it over. Now it’s a cistern,” Eberlein said, storing rainwater for their rambling Painted Hills home’s garden and desert landscaping.

Eberlein said they hired a contractor to build a deck made of Trex – a popular colored synthetic wood made from recycled plastic – over the roughly 15-foot by 32-foot pool. A submersible pump feeds irrigation lines that exit the pool below ground level. Unless one noticed a small trap door, there’s no indication there’s anything there other than a large deck in the backyard between their vegetable garden and the house.

“It held as much as 20,000 gallons of water a couple years ago when we had a wet period. There’s probably only 2,000 gallons in it now,” Eberlein said.

“It’s not completely sealed, as there are gaps between the decks’ planks,” Eberlein said.

“There are fish – mosquito fish, a little like guppies – in it so we don’t get mosquitoes. But there’s not enough light for algae to form.”

Eberlein said they’re satisfied with the results of the project, done eight years ago. Not only does it cut water bills and reduce the costs associated with having a pool, but he said it has helped them avoid some costly repairs, too.

“The pool was shot,” Eberlein said. “When we got here, it was green” with algae.

Article source:

Wembley garden designer in the finals of prestigious national contest

Christine Wilkie is one of four finalists

Max Walters, Reporter
Sunday, April 7, 2013
8:00 AM

Christine Wilkie is one of four battling it out in the Grand Designs Live competition

A garden designer from Wembley is celebrating after reaching the finals of a prestigious competition.

Christine Wilkie is one of four finalists in the Grand Designs Live competition.

The contest, which is based on the Channel 4 TV series aims to find winners across a range of categories including garden design and home improvement.

Ms Wilkie, who lives in Norval Road, has been shortlisted for her garden design creation which will now be judged by a panel including host of the TV show Kevin Mcleod at the Excell Arena in May.

The 52-year-old, who only took up the hobby in 2008, told the Times: “I’m really delighted to have been selected it’s a huge honour.”

The design, called Glow, had to meet Grand Designs’ ethos of contemporary, inspirational, ethical/environmental.

Grand Designs Live London takes place at the Excel in Docklands, from May 4 to 12.

If Ms Wilkie is crowned the winner she will claim the title of garden designer of the year.

For more information on Christine and her company Christine Wilkie Garden Design call 020 8904 4157 or go to



Most Read News

Former chairman of Brent Youth Parliament accused of beating female student in university library

Kishan Parshotam, 20, is claimed to have assaulted Khushboo Miyani in the London School of Economics

Read full story »


    Article source: