Alan Shuman has set his sights on redeveloping a long vacant hosiery factory and bank building in Reading, each more than a century old.
Combined, the developer will spend about $25 million on the projects in the heart of the city’s downtown and considered important to a Reading revitalization.
“Shuman has been a consistent champion for redevelopment in the city,” said Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Greater Chamber Alliance. “Probably more than anybody else, he has his pulse on what the market will really bear currently in the city of Reading.”
The Shuman Development Group will redevelop the Nolde & Horst Co. building, a former hosiery mill at 801 N. Ninth St., into a shopping center, and the Berks County Trust Co. building at 35 N. Sixth St., into offices and a food court.
“I think Alan gets it,” Peers said. “We really look forward to assisting him with these projects.”
The Nolde & Horst Co. is a 320,000-square-foot building that later became part of Reading’s shopping outlet district that thrived for more than 30 years beginning in the 1970s. Known as the Reading Outlet Center Building No. 1, it sold well-known brands such as Burberry, Kenneth Cole, Nine West and Guess.
Seven years ago, some members of the rock band Live were going to develop the Nolde & Horst building into apartments and a fiber optics center but failed to keep up with mortgage payments, so Shuman, who held the mortgage, foreclosed on it.
The Nolde & Horst Co. is a block from another former factory and outlet Shuman redeveloped, the Big Mill Apartments, which opened in 2016.
Shuman’s latest plan to convert a former outlet is not far from the massive redevelopment of the vacant VF Outlet Center, a sprawling complex on 34 acres on the border of West Reading and Wyomissing.
Equus Capital Partners of Philadelphia is turning the property into a $70 million office and retail campus known as The Knitting Mills. The complex was once home to the Berkshire Knitting Mills, the largest hosiery mill in the world.
$10M TO REDEVELOP BANK
Shuman also is buying the former Berks County Trust Co. for about $1 million from the now defunct Greater Reading Corporate Center. The building is in foreclosure.
Better known as the Meridian Bank building, it has been vacant for six years and has fallen into disrepair. One of its balconies fell off last summer and will require a lot of restoration work.
Shuman plans to spend about $10.5 million to convert the grand, neoclassical building built in 1910 into high-end offices on the upper floors and a food court on the ground floor. The 98,000-square-foot building has five floors, a mezzanine and a full lower level.
“It’s a magnificent building,” Shuman said. “It’s probably the finest example of neoclassical architecture in the whole region.”
The bank is a throwback to a grander era. The original bank vault is still in the building.
The lobby’s coffered ceiling is decorated with ornamental plaster.
“I’m told Meridian spent nearly $1 million to restore it in the 1980s,” Shuman said.
The president’s office on the mezzanine features cherry woodwork, a fireplace and ornamental plaster ceilings. The façade’s terracotta columns are made to look like granite and limestone.
“The Meridian building is going to be a wonderful addition to some of the momentum that’s taking place in downtown Reading, including expanding our food options. We had three new restaurants open last year in downtown,” Peers said.
One of the restaurants is the Saucony Creek Brewing Co., of Maxatawny Township, which will open a restaurant and bar this year in the former Franklin Street Station, another restored building from a bygone era.
Other redevelopment in the downtown includes the renovation of 503 Penn St. by John Weidenhammer, president of Weidenhammer in Wyomissing, into space for offices, retail or a restaurant.