Rebranding aims to boost Reading’s sustainable affordable housing stock

By - Last modified: October 11, 2013 at 9:39 AM

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Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic offered tours of its property, Skyline View Apartments, on Thursday.
Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic offered tours of its property, Skyline View Apartments, on Thursday.

A nonprofit based in Lancaster reopened and rebranded an apartment building on Oct. 10 with a tour of the property to highlight future plans for a $6 million to $7 million major rehabilitation in Reading.

Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic renamed the property "Skyline View Apartments," said the company's president, Michael Carper.

"Overall, the building is in good structural condition," Carper said. "We hope to improve the comfort within each of the units."

HDC made a significant investment in the main lobby and first floor of the property, including new flooring, paint, furniture and signage, Carper said.

"We also improved the outside appearance and landscaping," Carper said.

Since taking control of the property, HDC invested about $200,000 to reopen and rebrand the building and is looking to do more extensive rehabilitation and seeking financing from other groups to get it done.

Carper is hoping to partner with local organizations and groups, some of whom could provide financing that would make possible the investment.

"It is our intention to take it through a major rehabilitation," Carper said. "Many of the amenities are in good condition, but they are seriously out of date."

Plans for long-term building-wide rehabilitation efforts, which could take up to two years, include replacing electric boilers and converting to natural gas and replacing all windows.

HDC took over as property manager of Episcopal House of Reading from Christian Concerns in August 2012.

At the time, the 42-year-old property needed significant upgrades and had almost 40 vacancies, Carper said.

"We stepped in when the property was in financial distress," he said.

Today, the 140 unit-site is nearly 100 percent occupied and is composed mostly of affordable units, for ages 55 and older, with 25 units set aside as Section 8 (or affordable) housing, Carper said. Monthly rents start at $333 and go up to $586, Carper said. Rents include electric, heat, water and sewer service and trash removal.

The building is at 50 N. Ninth St.

Several officials spoke at the event, and they included Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer, state Sen. Judy Schwank, Tom Tillet, chief of staff for Congressman Joe Pitts, and Lu Ann Oatman, president of Berks Encore.

Berks Encore, an agency that offers programs, referrals, education and advocacy for seniors, will serve as a community partner, according to Oatman.

She told Lehigh Valley Business that the agency, next to the apartments, is in favor of affordable housing for seniors.

"We share the same courtyard," Oatman said. "We think it's a very efficient use of what's become very limited resources."

The agency sees itself as an expert in offering supportive and wraparound services for seniors, Oatman said.

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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