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SCIOTA, Pennsylvania _ Kate and Ryan Burns of Salt Lake City, Utah, recently purchased property that includes four apartments and a dog sitting service and pet grooming and supplies business, The Barking Lot, in Sciota. The property is located at 216 Friemann Road.
Mike Gilbert of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown helped arrange the financing so that the Burns could complete their purchase.
The Barking Lot was founded by Karen Friemann, a graduate of the New York School of Dog Grooming in Manhattan, in 1982. “The business is very, very well-established and well branded having been in operation for more than 30 years,” Kate Burns said.
The Burns plan to make some improvements to the apartments on the property and to have the well-established pet care business continue. The only change is its name to the Pocono Barking Lot. They also will help the owner establish a website.
Dog breeders, the Ryans own similar pet care businesses across the country, including in Utah and Idaho. When they saw the Sciota property for sale on the internet, they knew it was a good fit for them, Kate Burns said. Gilbert was recommended to them by the listing agent. “Mike Gilbert was able to make the commercial loan work for us when others could not,” she said.
The buyer and seller were represented by Terri Mickens of TACM Commercial Realty Inc.
PEN ARGYL, Pennsylvania _ Mike and Stephanie Bartleson of Williams Township have purchased Premier Granite & Marble Inc. from their good friend, John Hunt. Hunt began the business at 735 West Pennsylvania Avenue in 2002 and wanted to sell because he was relocating out West.
Mike Bartleson, who had been friends with Hunt for more than 30 years, thought it would be a great opportunity for him to own a small business. Bartleson, a chemist by degree, said he saw the purchase of the business as an opportunity to “maintain and grow relationships that John started over his 20 years in business.”
Premier Marble & Granite serves both residential and commercial customers. Homeowners can visit the showroom and select materials while contractors and builders also can place orders, Bartleson said.
A native of Pen Argyl, Bartleson said he has no plans to make changes to the business side of the operation. “It is the perfect chance for me to pick up where John left off,” Bartleson said.
Eventually, Bartleson expects his youngest son who works at the business to take it over. His son’s working there was another reason why he was interested in buying the business when his friend wanted to sell.
Bartleson said Hunt had talked about selling over the years but knew he was serious about it this time because he purchased a home in Utah. This is Bartleson’s first business venture.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the SBA financing for the Bartlesons to purchase the business.
Kristi Lutes, owner/managing director of Persev Advisors in Easton, a mergers and acquisitions firm, was instrumental in making the purchase come together. Attorney Bryan Tuk represented the buyers and Willow Settlement Services in Nazareth conducted the closing.
Barber said the purchase came together smoothly and that the Bartlesons will be extremely successful with their new business.
ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania _ Mohammed Yaseen of Forks Township, has purchased a property at 80 Savorcool Avenue in Pen Argyl, and plans to move his business, Lehigh HVAC LLC, in Easton that he co-owns with his brother-in-law Waqas Ahamd. They closed on the 6,000-square-foot property, which had been formally used by Tru Colors Restoration.
Lehigh HVAC specializes in providing heating and air conditioning services for residential and commercial buildings.
“The property includes offices and a warehouse that are ideal for our business,” Yaseen said. “And we can move in right away without renovations.”
Yaseen and Ahamd started the business in 2014 in New York and moved it to the Lehigh Valley in 2014. They had been renting space in Easton and had been looking for a property for their business that they could own for a number of years, Yaseen said.
The Pen Argyl property was ideal because it had what they were looking for: office space and a large warehouse. “We could not find anything more suitable,” Yaseen said. “The way it’s set up is perfect for us.”
The location is also ideal, Yaseen said. “We service customers from Allentown to the Poconos, and this is more centrally located than our current location.”
Barber said he was excited to help Yaseen and his brother-in-law close on their ideal property and knows they will continue to do well from this location and continue growing their business with the increase of space.
FORKS TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania _ Partners Dave Fiore and Sherief Elsamra have purchased the old Forks Diner at 3315 Sullivan Trail as a second location for their full-service auto repair business. They paid $650,000 for the nearly 5,000 square-foot diner and plan to convert it into a 6-bay auto repair shop.
Lehigh Financial Group, LLC in Allentown arranged more than $1,000,000 for the partners to acquire the property and convert it into a second shop. The new auto repair business will be called Your Mechanic PA, LLC.
Best friends, Fiore and Elsamra had been looking for a second location to accommodate their growing repair business for some time when their real estate agent Kristie Bauder of Iron Valley Real Estate of the Lehigh Valley informed them that the former diner was on the market.
“Because we were doing well in our first location, we wanted to expand our services to Forks Township,” Fiore said.
Fiore and Elsamra opened their first auto repair shop, Wrenchtec at 20 E. Lawn Road in Nazareth, four years ago. It has 4 bays. Its mechanics do everything from maintenance to automotive repairs and specialty part installations.
Lehigh Financial Group helped the partners secure financing for their first business venture and the partners knew the team at LFG would be ideal to help them with financing for their expansion.
The partners hope to complete the construction and open the new shop by early spring.
LOWER MACUNGIE, Pennsylvania _ Krunal “Ken” Patel and his wife, Priya, plan to open a UPS Store in Shepherd’s Corner, a new six-unit strip mall just south of the Hamilton Crossings shopping center. They plan to open the store in two to three months when construction is complete and the store is fully outfitted. The store will be located at 5585 Hamilton Boulevard.
The Patels closed on an SBA loan August 24 that will enable them to finance the project. Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the SBA loan for them.
Krunal Patel, of Reading, said he had been looking for the best location to open his UPS store for some time and was familiar with Allentown having worked there for several years. “I’m very excited to open in Allentown because it’s a growing area,” he said. Also, Patel said, due to COVID, more people are making online purchases and need mailing services.
The UPS Store, Patel said, is the nation’s largest franchisor of retail shipping, postal, print and business service centers. It has about 5,000 locations across North America.
Patel said his 1,500-square-foot store will offer shipping, shredding, printing, fax, passport photos and notary services. Also, the store will feature personal and business mailboxes.
Patel had previous business experience as the owner of a tobacco store.
Barber said Patel has a good background for this new business and he is certain it will do well. Barber also said the location is ideal.
The strip mall has been in the works for more than two years but faced some pandemic related delays.
ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania _ Partners Scott Carey of Easton and Mike Schnalzer of Slate Belt Butchery LLC in Saylorsburg have purchased Hartman’s Butcher Shop off of Route 309 in New Tripoli and plan to reopen it this fall after completing some work. The 6,000-square-foot butcher shop closed July 2021 when its owner, Dennis Hartman, retired.
The buyers are renaming the retail shop, located at 7291 Autumn Road, Carey and Schnalzer Quality Meats. They will continue processing their wholesale meat business under Slate Belt Butchery. They acquired the for the real estate, which included butchering equipment and its smokehouse along with some of Hartman’s secret recipes.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the SBA loan for the partners to buy the property and make some improvements to it. Barber said “He is excited to for both partners and was happy to help them expand their business and enjoyed working and learning what goes into the butchery business”.
The butcher shop, with its iconic statute of a pig looking out on the road, had been in the Hartman family for three generations. It was started in 1940 by Hartman’s grandfather.
“We bought a turnkey operation, but we plan to make it our own,” said Carey. The new shop will offer some of the sausages and other meat items that the Hartmans were known for as well as some of Carey’s and Schnalzer’s own recipes.
When Carey learned the business was for sale, “it was a no-brainer” to pursue it, he said. Carey, who had always wanted to “start my own thing,” is confident it will do well as it has a loyal customer base and is well-known in the area.
Carey had worked in corporate marketing but was unhappy. He decided to pursue a career in something he enjoyed and followed his love of cooking and smoking meats to be trained in butchery. Schnalzer had been his boss at the butcher shop where Carey worked and they became and remained good friends.
Carey said the demand for “this business is sky high” and that word spread quickly among those who work in it when Hartman’s was for sale. Carey said Barber walked him and Schnalzer through the process and helped them to acquire the financing they needed to complete the deal.
They hope to reopen the shop by September and perhaps have a soft opening in August.
Lehighton, Pennsylvania _ A group of investors, including Deepak Bhatnagar of Flemington, New Jersey, and Kuldeep Kumar of New York, purchased the 48-acre RelaxNation at 1500 Rock Road, Lehighton, for $3.8 million in early June. The investors plan on making many improvements and updates to the year-round vacation and leisure destination that offers both traditional campgrounds and experiential glamping facilities.
“We are adding 10 new cabins, fully renovating a house, and moving a chalet on the property to a better location,” Bhatnagar said. “We also plan to clean up the property, and hire a consultant/ management company to run it.” In addition, the group plans to advertise the property more heavily.
They expect the renovations and improvements to be complete by the end of the year.
The partners own other properties in Pennsylvania including the Hampton Inn, next door to RelaxNation. That’s how they saw it was for sale and believed it was a good investment, Bhatnagar said. The other investors are: Dilbag Singh of Pennsylvania and Namrata Sharma of New Jersey.
RelaxNation is 1/2 mile off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, conveniently located to Jim Thorpe, Beltzville Dam, Blue Mountain Resort and more.
The gated scenic resort offers guests a variety of amenities for all camping abilities including rustic cottages, RV sites, primitive camping and glamping sites. It also has a swimming pool, fishing, and nightly entertainment. Its sky pavilion, located on the summit of the facility, is available for larger events including weddings.
The new luxury cottages will offer guests the best views overlooking the beautiful Pocono Mountains. “Our great hall will offer daily breakfast, evening reception, and nightly entertainment,” Bhatnagar said. “We will also have a general store for all your travel needs. Guests will be able to come and stay in our newly renovated historic farmhouse with a view of the Pohopoco River.”
BLOOMSBURG, Pennsylvania _ Michael and Becky Shevlin of Schnecksville have purchased the family-oriented Indian Head Campground along the Susquehanna River and Fishing Creek and plan to make some upgrades as they continue its operation. They paid $1.315 million for the 38-acre campground, which has been in operation since 1976 under the same owner. Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC helped arrange the SBA financing to purchase the property and complete upgrades. The acquisition closed at the end of April.
The campground at 340 Reading Street offers primitive sites for tents, water and electric for RVs, and full hookup sites. It is located on Route 42, three miles South of Exit 232 (Buckhorn/Bloomsburg) of I-80.
Becky Shevlin said their family loves to camp and, when COVID hit, they were looking for an opportunity to make such a purchase. When they saw this campground was available, they jumped. “It fit exactly what we wanted,” Becky said. “It had a lot of space. And it was the perfect fit for us.” Shelly Wattles, of Pine Creek Real Estate in Galeton, Pennsylvania, was the listing and selling agent for the campgrounds.
Becky said they plan to add a pole barn to serve as an event center and to be used as storage. “We want to add more weekend activities to keep our guests entertained,” she said. The campgrounds is “a nice fun family place, and we want to keep it that way,” she said.
The campgrounds, named after a local rock out-cropping, is built on what had been a cornfield, she said. Becky said the couple also plans to market the property more extensively than it had been. RV sites are available from May 1 to October 31.
The buyers were Malke Enterprise Corporation. Lehigh Financial Group LLC arranged the financing and Joe Paranee of Paranee Properties was the listing and selling agent.
ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA _ Action Corporations has purchased a 17,000-square-foot building at 622 Union Boulevard, which formerly housed Dave Phillips Music & Sound, for $1.4 million and plans to move there in early May. The closing occurred March 18. Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group, LLC, in Allentown, arranged the financing to enable Action Corporations to complete the purchase and finance the renovations.
Thomas Walker and his wife, Evandra, started Action Cleaning, a janitorial company, in New York City in 2007, and have since expanded to five businesses. In addition to the original janitorial service, Action has companies that provide renovations, installations, and fine carpentry. It also offers temporary outsourced labor solutions for distribution centers and warehouse needs.
Since its founding, Action Corporations has expanded from New York to other states across the country including California, Texas, Maine and Florida. Among its clients are Macy’s, Target, Starbucks, Walmart, Panera Bread, Bed Bath & Beyond and Wells Fargo.
“What you would call us today is a project management company,” said Walker, who is CEO. “We have vendors who work exclusively for us and vendors we use when jobs come up in their area,” he said. It has about 20 employees as well as large list of independent contractors that it uses.
In 2016, a relationship with one of its clients led to Action doing business in Eastern Pennsylvania. In 2018, Walker rented space at 1041 North Quebec Street and a warehouse on South 5th Street for his companies. He plans to move from North Quebec Street to the property on Union Boulevard once renovations are complete.
Walker is planning to use the new space as offices for its corporate holdings. “We need the warehouse and the office space,” Walker said. “But we are planning to rent the retail space in the front of the building and will be looking for a partner.”
Commercial specialist Peter Adams of Berkshire Hathway/Fox & Roach Realtors in Macungie represented Walker as the buyer’s agent and Joe Paranee of Paranee Properties was the listing agent.
Dave Phillips Music & Sound closed its Allentown store at the end of January 2018.
Barber said he is happy to see Walker find a new home in Allentown for his businesses that continue to grow and expand.
BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania _ Morganelli Properties, a residential and commercial real estate company, has purchased the iconic building across from Liberty High School at 1124 Linden Street for its new headquarters. The locally owned real estate company plans to renovate the building, formerly an ice cream shop and pharmacy, and open its new headquarters in Bethlehem by summer. Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC helped brother/owners John and Chris Morganelli obtain an SBA loan to purchase the property for $820,000 and complete the renovations. The deal closed at the end of February.
Morganelli Properties is currently located at 1057 Main Street in Hellertown in space it rented when the firm opened four years ago. Vice President Chris Morganelli said, “We are super excited about this move. Our new headquarters are going to be state-of-the-art, really tasteful and classy.”
Chris and his brother John, who is president of the firm, grew up in Bethlehem and would go on family outings to the ice cream shop, Nuts About Ice Cream, which recently closed after 33 years in business. Lucy Lennon of Morganelli Properties was the listing agent for the 7,500-plus square-foot building that has two rental units on the second and third floors and that will remain.
Morganelli Properties has more than 40 members of its real estate family most of whom work remotely, but will be able to use the first-floor headquarters when renovated. Heather McFadden is the broker of record and an owner of the firm. She, too, said she is excited to move to an “iconic building” in such a “prime location.”
“We plan to hold a grand opening and show the public what we’ve done when it is ready,” Chris said. “We are expecting the renovations to take two to three months and they are starting now.” Renovations are planned for both inside and out.
Chris said that Morganelli Properties’ buying the building makes a statement to the community: “We are here and not going anywhere.”
Barber said, “This property is an excellent location with high viability for Morganelli Properties to continue to grow and expand their business.” Barber said he was happy to help with arranging the financing for the acquisition of real estate.
KUTZTOWN, Pennsylvania _ Todd Silance of Silance Investments in Breinigsville and Scott Check Jr. of True North Properties in West Chester, and three other investors have purchased a mixed-use building that is used for student housing and that has commercial storefronts in Downtown Kutztown. They purchased the 26,000-plus square -foot property at 11 East Main Street for $1,550,000. Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the financing for the group’s purchase and for the renovations that are planned. The acquisition closed at the end of February.
The building currently has 30 units and storefront shops. “We plan to upgrade the units and keep them as student housing,” Silance said. Work will begin at the end of the semester in May and be complete for students to occupy them by fall. Some exterior renovations are planned but the businesses there now will remain, Silance said.
The biggest change is the addition of a commercial laundry where there are now a few washers and dryers that students can use. The commercial self-service laundry will be open to the public, Silance said.
Silance and Check have partnered on other real estate properties in Kutztown and elsewhere in Pennsylvania and out of the area. They heard of this property’s availability through word of mouth and were attracted to the opportunity. “We liked the market. We liked the student housing in Kutztown, and we the liked the mixed-use storefronts that this building had,” Silance said. “It was an ideal property for us and making it a bit nicer was appealing.”
Silance said Barber made the deal “seamless and helped bring it to a close quickly. It was great working with him.”
ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania _ Polymer Contours Inc. is moving from the Allentown Economic Development Corporation’s business incubator to the iconic former A1 Restaurant & Janitorial Supply building at 732 N. Sixteenth St. and Sumner Avenue in Allentown. Polymer Contours President Tyson Daniels purchased the former restaurant supply store in February for $1.3 million. Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the SBA financing for Daniels to make the purchase and outfit the building for the company.
“This is one of those success stories for the AEDC’s business incubator,” Barber said. “Tyson could have left Allentown, but he chose to stay and grow here.”
Polymers Contours Inc., a full-service injection molding company, was founded in 2009. Daniels bought the company, located in the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, in 2015. Polymer Contours had one customer and two machines. Daniels has since grown the business to four machines and 35 customers.
Daniels said he needed more space to continue to serve his existing customer base as well as new customers who keep coming. “We needed more space for raw goods as well as finished goods,” he said. The industrial building he purchased is 42,000-plus square feet and was built in 1953.
The business has grown from one part-time person to 9 full-time people. Daniels anticipates adding at least 10 more within the first year.
Polymer Contours specializes in production focused on custom plastic part design/engineering and full mold design/build capabilities. It serves various industries including medical, adhesive, HVAC/refrigeration, packaging, food service, and general industrial.
ALLENTOWN, PA _ Revolution Church has purchased property on West Green Street that was last used by St. Michael’s Greek Catholic Church for $500,000 and plans to make it its new home. The property includes a church, rectory, social center, office, living quarters, classrooms and parking. Jeff Barber and Lewis Edwards of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the financing that enabled the church’s pastors, Jim and Mary McIver, to purchase the property at 154-156 W. Green Street at the end of January.
The couple plan renovations to their new property including painting, replacing carpeting and upgrading plumbing. “We are full-speed ahead on renovations, and plan to have our first church services there at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, March 6,” Jim McIver said. The church had been holding services Sunday afternoons in space it rented from Emanuel United Methodist Church on South Ninth Street in Allentown.
The McIvers began the Spirit-Filled, Full-Gospel church on Turner Street in Allentown in 1996. In September 2013, the church moved to 5 Race Street in Catasauqua. Although they never intended the Catasauqua property to be permanent, they stayed until 2020 when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation took the property by eminent domain for intended road improvements at Race and Lehigh streets.
Pastor Jim says the church has a diverse membership of about 150 and includes those who are Black, White, Latino, Haitian and African. The pastor had been searching the Internet for a new location for some time when one morning he stopped to have breakfast. Something told him to go back and check the listings again. That’s when he saw the new listing for the Catholic church’s property, and he mobilized to make it theirs.
Barber helped arrange a commercial loan with First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union. Pastor McIver said, “Jeff worked hard to help us get the financing and we are grateful for all the time and energy he put into this.” Barber said he is happy to help the pastors find a permanent location for their valued ministry.
EAST STROUDSBURG, PA _ Julio Amenero and Celia Elizabelar of East Stroudsburg have bought the 3,000-square foot building at 2550 Milford Road in East Stroudsburg to expand their artisanal ice cream manufacturing business. Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the financing that enabled the Latino husband-and-wife owners to purchase the building and convert it to a manufacturing plant. They hope to have their new manufacturing site up and running by late summer, early fall.
Julio and Celia opened Llama Ice Cream at 266 River Road in East Stroudsburg in 2017 where they serve homemade ice cream with Latino flare. Flavors include pina colada, passionfruit, pistachio, lucuma, soursop, and mamey. They also have a retail location inside the food court of the Stroud Mall.
Demand for their ice cream had been strong despite the pandemic, Celia said. Celia, a native of Argentina, said they could either turn away customers or expand manufacturing and chose to expand. The manufacturing plant will enable them to continue to supply wholesalers that sell to supermarkets. Once they found the appropriate site, it was an easy decision, Celia said.
Her husband was familiar with the property they bought having driven by it many times and believed it will be easily converted to fit their needs. They will continue to operate their shops on River Road and in the mall as well as in Rockaway, N.J. They will expand the staff by at least one once they open the manufacturing plant.
Julio is a native of Peru and named his ice cream shop after llamas, which, he said, are distinctive animals and reminiscent of his upbringing in Peru.
Barber said the couple are “hard workers” and has no doubt that their expanded venture will succeed and said that they never gave up finding the right location to expend their business.
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Hispanic Businesswoman & Veteran Buys Cleaning Service Based in Macungie Plans to Expand
Leila Duarte, a financial analyst who lives in Bethlehem, has purchased MDT Cleaning Services LLC, based in Macungie, from its owners, Margaret and Joe Topiarz, who are retiring. MDT provides professional office, commercial and home cleaning services in the Lehigh Valley. Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown helped Duarte secure an SBA 7a loan to acquire the business.
Duarte said she has long wanted to own her own business and saw the cleaning service as an ideal opportunity for her talents and the times. Duarte plans to retain MDT’s current employees and hire two more as she expands the service in the Bethlehem and Easton areas. “We will keep the name MDT in Macungie and move to Elite Clean 4 You in the Bethlehem and Easton areas,” she said.
Despite the pandemic, Duarte believes this is an opportune time to open her business. “People need cleaning services, especially now, and there are responsible and reliable people who clean and who want to come on board and work for me,” she said.
The Topiarzes started the business in 1998 and have a well-established clientele.
Duarte said she is excited to follow in the footsteps of her late mother, Elsa Vazquez, who was a well-known businesswoman in the Hispanic community in the Lehigh Valley. Vazquez launched Bet-El Counseling Services PC, providing mental health services in South Bethlehem and Allentown.
Barber said he has no doubt that Duarte will succeed. “She is very resourceful and enthusiastic,” he said.
Scranton, Pennsylvania_ Several investors, including two alumni of the University of Scranton, have purchased a 19-unit property on Taylor Avenue, adjacent to the campus, for $1,060,000 and plan to upgrade all units, elevate amenities, and enhance curb appeal and will welcome any students who need housing. The property is located at 316-322 Taylor Avenue and 322.5 Taylor Avenue. Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged financing so the investors could buy the property and upgrade it.
Investors include Robert Musso, a graduate of the University, also managing director of Tuson Properties, LLC, and his business partner Gaspare Urso, Senate Syndications Group, LLC, who both reside in New Jersey. Jeremy Knap, also a former alumnus, and Scott Regan of J & S Realty Group of Long Island, NY, are also general partners in the project.
The investment group also have properties in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio and various parts of Pennsylvania including assets in the dynamic Lehigh Valley including towns such as Easton.
They plan to upgrade the multifamily building which consists primarily of primarily three bedrooms. It will also have one- and two-bedroom units. Mr. Musso expects the renovations to be complete in the spring of 2022.
“We feel that we’re doing something very good for the community, the building and the block,” Musso said. “We are very experienced real estate professionals. Collectively, our team has extensive knowledge and skill sets in the multi-family field. We are excited to start this exciting project, give some life to the asset and block and welcome all students in the local area.”
The investors bought the property in August from Jeffrey Manganaro of Manganaro Real Estate Group in Ridgewood, New Jersey, also an alumnus of the University of Scranton, ironically. “We connected because we were alumni and we were able to agree on terms for this wonderful vision we had for the property,” Musso said.
Barber said, “This is a fantastic project for Robert, Gaspare and the group of investors. The entire community will benefit greatly with upgraded student housing in the local area.”
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