GIRARDVILLE - Schuylkill Community Action (SCA) housing developer Frank Schiffer gave details at Thursday's borough council meeting on a plan to construct six residences in the downtown.

Schiffer spoke to borough council and the public about the construction of four townhouse-style buildings and two single-floor handicap-accessible apartments on the 100 block of West Main Street where a devastating fire occurred Feb. 23, 2011.

Before Schiffer's presentation, Clyde "Champ" Holman, deputy secretary for community affairs and development at the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), spoke briefly about the rehabilitation work being done in Girardville.

Holman said the impetus for dealing with blight in the county began with the late state Sen. James J. Rhoades obtained a $1 million grant for the Schuylkill County Redevelopment Authority, which was then given to Schuylkill Community Action.

"It started a program in the county that Mahanoy City, Shenandoah, Pottsville, Girardville and others were able to participate in building houses," said Holman. "There are five rentals and five houses in Girardville alone, which raises the bar a little bit and gets rid of blight and helps with the rehab of communities and homes. It is a program that you can be proud of because it does help the community."

Schilling thanked Holman and state Sen. David Argall, R-29, for "what you are doing for us in Harrisburg with these types of programs."

Schiffer also thanked borough solicitor Christopher Riedlinger for his work in providing the legal assistance in helping the borough to obtain the properties from 106 to 118 W. Main St.

SCA is in the process of obtaining the $1.2 million needed for the project through grant funding, including applying for $500,000 from the state Keystone Communities Program and another $500,000 grant application through the federal HOME program.

Schiffer said he wants to continue investment on the main thoroughfare in the borough through the West Main Street project. Community revitalization efforts began in Girardville in 2008.

The "West Main Street" project has been approved for participation in the Schuylkill County Demolition Program, which will provide 75 percent of the estimated $80,000 cost of demolition. The county funds will come from Community Development Block Grant administered by the county.

SCA acquired seven blighted parcels, demolished seven vacant and deteriorated commercial buildings, constructed and sold five homeownership projects, and completed a new construction rental development project serving three very low income households, Schiffer said.

"The proposed 'West Main Street' project will provide great impact to the affected neighborhood and the municipality at large," said Schiffer. "The current site of the proposed Girardville project has been a major blight on the main thoroughfare of the borough for several years."

Schiffer also recognized Girardville PRIDE (Partners for Revitalization with Interest in Downtown Expansion), the local downtown revitalization group, for its efforts since 2004 through a facade improvement program and downtown beautification projects including trash receptacles, flower planters, and the planting of trees.

"Girardville PRIDE is a stellar example of a determined and adaptable community-based, non-profit group fighting to organize and bring about active community advocacy efforts to positively affect change in its local community," said Schiffer.

The fire-damaged properties at the project site have been removed. The remaining structures will be demolished in the near future. Schiffer said the bids for the demolition project will be received at the county courthouse no later than 4 p.m. March 31.

GIRARDVILLE - The "West Main Street" project in Girardville to construct four townhouse-style homes for rent and two single-floor handicap-accessible apartments are expected to be ready for occupancy by February 2015. They will include:

*** Three bedrooms.

*** Full bathroom.

*** Kitchen/dining room.

*** Living room.

*** 1,200 square feet of living space.

*** New washer/dryer, refrigerator and electric range.

*** Ceiling fans.

*** Wall-to-wall carpeting.

*** Fire sprinkler system.

*** Energy efficient.

The housing project is made possible by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Schuylkill County, Borough of Mahanoy City, and Schuylkill Community Action.