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Redevelopment proposals reviewed by Reading officials

By , - Last modified: April 17, 2014 at 10:04 AM
One of three key redevelopment sites for Reading is the Penn Square building at Fifth and Penn streets in the downtown, consisting of five buildings.
One of the buildings is a nine-story brick office tower with 68,000 square feet of office space. The property also has a 24,000-square-foot, two-story historic bank building. Both buildings are ready for use, while the other three will most likely need to be demolished, prior to redevelopment.
One of three key redevelopment sites for Reading is the Penn Square building at Fifth and Penn streets in the downtown, consisting of five buildings. One of the buildings is a nine-story brick office tower with 68,000 square feet of office space. The property also has a 24,000-square-foot, two-story historic bank building. Both buildings are ready for use, while the other three will most likely need to be demolished, prior to redevelopment. - (Photo / )

Reading officials Wednesday reviewed and discussed investors’ redevelopment proposals for three prime properties – the first step in what could be a renewed revitalization effort for the city.

Because of a confidentiality agreement, officials this morning declined to comment on the proposals.

Details from the meeting may not be released to the public for several weeks, said Adam Mukerji, executive director of the city's Redevelopment Authority.

The three sites, all owned by either the city or its redevelopment authority, could be important to a Reading economic revival.

In March, Lenin Agudo, Reading's director of community development, and Mukerji hosted a first-of-its kind bus tour, taking 20 potential investors to visit the three sites – sparking interest from developers.

The three sites are the Penn Square building, Riverview Industrial park and the Penn Optical building.

"For a long time, it seemed like there was nothing happening in Reading," Brian Kelly, executive director of Redesign Reading, a new agency created by the city to streamline customer service for developers and entrepreneurs, said at the time. "We are now recognizing Reading as a place where economic development is possible."

PENN SQUARE BUILDING

At Fifth and Penn streets in the downtown, the site consists of five buildings which are two blocks from Santander Arena and three blocks from the regional transportation center.

The property has a 24,000 square-foot, two-story historic bank building. Another building is a nine-story brick office tower with 68,000 square feet of office space. Both buildings are ready for use.

The other three buildings in the complex most likely would retain their façade, but most everything else would need to be demolished. The city said it would assist with the cost of demolition and site preparation. The sale price is negotiable, based on many circumstances, according to Craig Peiffer, Reading's zoning administrator.

RIVERVIEW INDUSTRIAL PARK

A 50-acre site at the rail yards at 1 Opportunity Drive, it is zoned for manufacturing and commercial use. It has a 105,000 square-foot building pad, and a partial steel structure, in place. The purchase price is $6 million, and the property, equipped with water and sewer mains, has rail access.

PENN OPTICAL BUILDING

The 1920s building at 212 S. Eighth St. is a three-acre, adaptive reuse property, zoned for manufacturing and commercial use. The Redevelopment Authority owns the six-building complex and is seeking to sell it for $800,000.

The property most likely would need to be demolished prior to redevelopment, and the city has said public funds are available to pay for demolition and site preparation.

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Jennifer Glose

Jennifer Glose

Reporter Jennifer Glose covers health care, Berks County and other topics. She can be reached at jenniferg@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 111. Follow her on Twitter @jenniferg_LVB and read her blog, “Networking,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/networking-blog.

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