The city of Reading this week announced itself as the first city in Pennsylvania to receive Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating Communities certification for sustainability leadership.
Meanwhile, the city is launching a newly established website that will provide critical information on real estate in Reading.
The city received a three-star rating under the STAR Community Rating System for various sustainability areas, including in climate and energy, economy and jobs, and health and safety.
“The STAR verification process helped us take a critical look at where we are meeting sustainability benchmarks,” said Brian Kelly, executive director of ReDesign Reading, a community development organization that designs and implements economic development initiatives. “And more importantly, where we, as a community, have room for improvement.”
STAR Communities is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that works to evaluate, improve and certify sustainable communities.
The STAR framework is comprehensive, including how safe residents feel, the success of schools, the response time of emergency services, workforce readiness, housing affordability and civic engagement. More than 50 partners collaborated over the past nine months to collect data to measure the community’s progress toward national sustainability standards.
Reading scored highest in the “Built Environment” and “Education, Arts and Community” categories.
“Receiving STAR Communities certification is a very big deal for … Reading, especially
being the first in Pennsylvania,” Mayor Vaughn Spencer said in a press release. “Finally, we have a national standard and very rigorous and objective third-party verification program that proves our city is moving in the right direction, using best practices when possible.”
The city this week unveiled Opportunity Map, a website that will be constantly updated to illustrate and spotlight areas of opportunity for those investing or developing in the city. By partnering with STR of Fairfax, Va., a provider of cloud-based property portfolio management software, and STR’s online platform ePropertyPlus, the city was able to provide this public access to search for available properties.
“This online tool will allow staff to spend more time turning nonperforming properties into productive assets that increase our tax base,” Spencer said in a press release. “Additionally, it is expected to be a transparent method for the community to easily identify areas of opportunity and to be directed toward the correct process to acquire the property of interest.”
More than 700 properties have already been loaded into the system, and more will be added as investment opportunities become available to the public. The sites include commercial and residential properties – both vacant and in use.
“There are millions of vacant properties across the country draining local resources, tax revenues, property values and neighborhood spirit,” said Scott Meyer, President of STR. “ePropertyPlus helps municipalities increase their operational efficiency, improve transparency and provide a higher level of customer service to the public.”
The site is open to the public at https://public-read.epropertyplus.com/.
Contact the city at firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback, issues or questions.