The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

January 23, 2014

Prospect’s prospects are looking up

JOHNSTOWN — The holiday weekend honoring Martin Luther King Jr. brought plenty of good news to the Prospect neighborhood of Johns-town.

Community leaders gathered there on Monday to christen the Greater Prospect Store, which is a co-op located at 110 William Penn Ave. While the store, which will sell fresh produce and homemade foods, offer classes and provide laundromat services, is not scheduled to officially open for about three months, this was an important first step for it and the community.

We fully support the initiative behind the store and the positive benefits that it will bring to the people of Prospect. Holding the ceremony Monday was a wise move and one that certainly made sense.

“It’s a good thing to do it for Martin Luther King’s birthday,” said James Britt, the co-op’s manager and a minister at Stevens Memorial Holy Church. “It’s a celebration in the community. We want to start a renaissance. ... It will create some positivity in the community, which we know Dr. King was all about.”

We salute those who have worked to make the co-op a reality. And while it’s not yet ready to open, the progress made so far in Prospect would not have been possible without the efforts of a number of groups and organizations, including the Greater Johnstown School District, Alternative Community Resource Program, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, Lift Johns-town, AmeriServ Financial, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Stevens Memorial Holy Church and Bethel AME.

“Something like this never happens with one person, and you have to commend everybody that’s been involved,” said Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Johnstown. “It’s a proud day for Johnstown.”

That wasn’t the only good news coming out of Prospect over the weekend. Reporter Dave Sutor detailed plans for a group of dilapidated properties on Prospect Hill.

Danielle Michaels, a Florida attorney who previously lived in Geistown, is doing her part to spruce up the neighborhood. Michaels purchased 32 duplexes and plans to completely revamp them and offer 64 rental units that will feature new roofs, carpeting and appliances.

Like the co-op, the homes are not yet ready to open, but Michaels expects the first unit to be available by Feb. 1. Renovating the homes is an ongoing process that will take time, and some of them need plenty of work.

Michaels said that she plans to paint the exterior of the homes so that they do not have the feel of an apartment complex, but rather of homes on a street, which could give residents more community pride.

While her legal expertise in dealing with dilapidated properties and having local real estate developer Denis Michaels for a father helped, she said that decision is about Prospect, not profit.

“I did it not really for my financial gain, but for the city of Johnstown,” Danielle Michaels said.

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