On Tuesday afternoon, $6 million in new market tax credits were awarded to Shuman Development Group of Reading by Community First Fund in Lancaster.
Community First is an economic development organization that serves low-income communities of central and eastern Pennsylvania, providing loan capital to developers and businesses.
The tax credits will fund renovations of 645 Penn St. in downtown Reading, a project of Alan Shuman, owner and broker of Shuman Development Group.
The announcement was made at the site of the project, the former Exide Battery Building. It’s in a prime spot in Reading’s central business district, next to the soon-to-be-opened DoubleTree by Hilton Reading hotel and convention center.
Shuman this year bought back the mixed-use 140,000-square-foot Exide building, which he previously sold to New Jersey developers. The building fell into disrepair under the previous owners with failing infrastructure, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, leading to a 36 percent occupancy rate.
Renovations will include creating commercial offices and retail space. The tax credits are an investment from Community First through Fulton Bank of Reading and will provide the construction funds to bring the building back to good condition.
“You can’t lose the momentum,” Shuman told Lehigh Valley Business in a previous interview on the revitalization of downtown Reading. “You have got to keep it going to attract the appropriate investment.”
Updates will be made to the building’s mechanical systems, and interior space will be refurbished to retain and attract new tenants and enable existing tenants to remain.
Shuman plans to bring in a food court, as well as a restaurant, shopping and retail tenants, said Daniella Singleton, junior associate, development for Community First Fund.
Shuman Development Group has redeveloped, sold and leased more than two million square feet of commercial property in downtown Reading in the last 10 years, including 10 buildings it bought and revitalized since 2006 in the iconic Reading Outlet district, totaling about 640,000 square feet, including a new grocery store.
In May 2014, Shuman announced plans for a $14 million commercial and residential complex for the 120,000-square-foot Old Mill building on Eighth and Oley streets – the last leg of the outlet revitalization.
Since 1992, Community First Fund has made more than 1,200 loans and investments totaling more than $80 million to businesses, affordable housing and community-based developers and projects throughout eastern and central Pennsylvania.