Well-known Reading retailer Albert Boscov broke ground this morning on what will be a $56 million four-star hotel in the city's downtown – a vision that has been seven years in the making.
Taking up the entire 700 block of Penn Street, the nine-floor, 208-room Double Tree by Hilton will sit directly across from Santander Arena. Hotel features will include a convention center, pool, ballrooms and a restaurant, along with a 928-space parking lot. The complex is expected to be completed by summer 2015.
"We have been working for seven years to make this happen," said Boscov, the well-known owner of Boscov's retail store chain. "We didn't want just a regular hotel; we wanted a four-star hotel."
The hotel project, Boscov said, is the result of efforts by his nonprofit Our City Reading Inc. and a group of 10 people in the community who supported the project.
"We are excited to see this movement on the long anticipated hotel," said Charles Broad, executive director of the city's Downtown Improvement District Authority. "First of all, it will provide benefit to people coming into the arena, and we hope that it will attract other restaurants and coffee shops."
Boscov' connection to Reading is eminent. His deep roots in the city are in part from his late father's legacy, Solomon Boscov, who more than a century ago opened the first Boscov's retail department store at Ninth and Pike streets in the downtown. Albert Boscov was instrumental in growing his father's business into a multistore retail chain of more than 40 stores throughout the East Coast.
"He has been a visionary for Reading," Broad said. "He has a vision for what should be here and makes it happen and never stops trying."
In 2001, Boscov started Our City Reading as a nonprofit to renovate old homes in the city and make them affordable for first-time homebuyers in the city and to develop the city to bring quality jobs. To date, Our City Reading has renovated 550 homes.
Our City Reading also helped to develop the 200 block of the downtown near Washington Street with a GoggleWorks luxury apartment building, Imax Theater, Panevino Rustic Italian Cuisine and the Goggleworks Center for the Arts.
"I am proud of the fact that we have had the support of the community," Boscov said.
"Reading never had a four-star hotel, and I believe this is one of the most important projects in Reading to date and a great step forward – and we are far from done."