Boscov: Steamtown Mall Nearing Foreclosure

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Mall at Steamtown is on the verge of foreclosure, department store magnate Al Boscov disclosed to The Times-Tribune on Wednesday.

The mall ownership group, Steamtown Mall Partners LP, recently defaulted on a lump sum mortgage payment and a property foreclosure action is expected to be filed by Friday in Lackawanna County Court, Boscov told the newspaper’s editorial board.

The mall will continue to operate and shoppers should notice no difference at the Lackawanna Avenue retail complex during foreclosure, he said. All of the mall’s tenants but one, a store whose lease was up, have decided to stay.

Reiterating his personal commitment to the mall and to downtown Scranton, Boscov, chairman and chief executive of Boscov’s department store, said the mall’s ownership believes the foreclosure process will help the property emerge as a financially healthier operation.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/boscov-steamtown-mall-nearing-foreclosure-1.1645780

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Groundbreaking Set For Reading Hotel And Convention Center

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Albert R. Boscov was excitedly making and receiving countless phone calls in his Exeter Township office Monday after getting word that the last of the financing for a downtown hotel and convention center was finally in place.

He immediately began making plans to break ground Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the 700 block of Penn Street across from the Santander Arena.

“It’s been a long wait but we got it,” Boscov said.

The renowned retailer has been working on the block-long, four-star hotel, which will cost at least $56 million, since 2007.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131217/NEWS/312169896/1052#.UrDeuPRDsxI

Loans From Reading Sought For Downtown Hotel Project

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The long-planned Doubletree Convention Center Hotel downtown has hit a new snag, and its chief developer – retailer Albert R. Boscov – is asking the city for help.

Boscov told City Council and the administration Monday that the project has lost the $1 million commitment it was counting on from the Lancaster-based Community First Fund.

That fund last week announced it was giving $6 million in federal new markets tax credits to another city project – Shuman Development Co.’s plans for market-rate apartments in the old Big Mill outlets at Eighth and Oley streets – leaving none for the hotel.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=517591

Mall At Steamtown Battles For Survival

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Bon-Ton reported it will vacate the Mall at Steamtown in January, department store magnate Al Boscov admits the shopping complex is battling for its existence.

“I am trying to figure out ways that we can survive,” said Boscov, who developed the $101 million Lackawanna Avenue complex and is a principal in the group that owns the facility.

Bon-Ton reported it will close its 100,000-square-foot store in the mall before its lease expires Jan. 31. Spokeswoman Mary Kerr said it probably will cease operations between Jan. 26 and Jan. 29.

“It’s sad. It’s certainly something that we don’t want to do,” Kerr said. “We do have to make these hard decisions at times.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/mall-at-steamtown-battles-for-survival-1.1570580

Don’t Give Up On Reading, Albert Boscov Tells Crowd

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a different Reading back in the day when Albert R. Boscov, then just a child, would go to work at his father’s store on North Ninth Street.

“When I was growing up, Penn Street was the most vital area you could go to.  It had five movie theaters,” the Boscov’s Department Stores chairman recalled of the city in the first half of the twentieth century.  “When I look at Reading today, it’s not what I would like to see.”

“It’s not the Reading I know,” Boscov told a crowd of about 100 at Alvernia University on Friday night.  “And it’s not the Reading it has to be.”

Boscov came to Francis Hall on Friday for the kick-off of Leadership Berks’ “Leaders, Legends, and Visionaries” series.  The discussion was moderated by David Myers, director of Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=510966

Mix-Up In Payment Costs Reading $715,000

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City officials acknowledged Monday that a $625,000 payment from the wrong fund 10 years ago for the Sovereign Plaza project now is costing the city $715,000 in money it could otherwise have used for economic development.

Matthew Bembenick, administrative services director, also told City Council that the Reading Redevelopment Authority had a verbal deal, not a written agreement, on who pays back several loans from that project, so there’s little paperwork except for some 10-year-old emails.

“The documentation that exists from 10 or 11 years ago is spotty at best,” said Bembenick, hired last year.

He added that he’s spent countless hours trying to find what paperwork the city has.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=504622

Albert Boscov: Reading School Board Should Honor 2006 Tax Deal

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We ask the members of the school board not the be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Do the right thing for Reading’s revitalization.  Honor the deal!

Albert Boscov wants the Reading School District to hold up its part of the deal.

Back in 2006, Reading School Board members – along with city and county officials – agreed to a plan to reduce property taxes for the then-proposed GoggleWorks Apartments.  But now that the complex at Second and Washington streets is open, a problem has popped up.

It turns out, Our City Reading, which spearheaded the project, never officially finalized the tax deals.

Boscov has met with school district, city and county officials in hopes of getting current officials to sign off on the tax breaks their predecessors agreed to.  He attended Monday night’s Reading School Board meeting to reiterate his plea.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=494614

Program Profiles Reading Redevelopment Efforts

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Efforts to revitalize Reading’s economy were highlighted Thursday in a live national round-table online discussion that included panelists from California and Georgia.

Albert Boscov is very good at shaking money trees, and I collect the bills,” said Adam Mukerji, executive director of the Reading Redevelopment Authority, who sat in for the retailer Boscov, a key figure with Our City Reading, a group committed to helping first-time buyers purchase refurbished city homes.

Mukerji described the retailer “as one of the most charitable persons I have ever worked with.”

Conversation Starters, a national nonprofit based in College Station, Texas, hosted the third in a series focusing on nationwide ideas for community building and economic development.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=484645

State Adds Extra Money To Reading Hotel Project

The long-planned 220-room Doubletree Convention Center Hotel on Penn Street has received a $500,000 bolster from the state.

The developers, led by retailer Albert R. Boscov, had applied for an additional $2.5 million state grant.

“The governor came in with $3 million,” Boscov said Thursday.

He said the project earlier had been approved for $14 million in grants from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, but the developers applied for more.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=466670

Albert R. Boscov’s Impact Stretches Beyond Berks, And Beyond Business

English: Boscov's Department Store in the Exto...

English: Boscov’s Department Store in the Exton Square Mall. Built c. 1998 as an expansion to the mall, it displaced the Zook House which was on the NRHP in Chester County, PA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even in a city famous for its entertainers, Albert R. Boscov stands out.

Twice a year Boscov heads to Las Vegas for the country’s biggest consumer-goods trade show, held in the city’s convention center.

The building is packed with almost 3,000 vendors selling everything from diamond rings to dog food.

Boscov is one of 45,000 retailers who attend.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=456203

Reading Crime Summit Yields Plan

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Look what happens when people get together to work on a problem!  Reading needs to be the focus.

The cause of curtailing violent crime in Reading and Berks County got a push forward Friday afternoon as more than 100 public and private leaders conducted a long-awaited crime summit.

Gov. Tom Corbett and U.S. Sens. Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey were among the participants in the closed-door session held at the Crowne Plaza Reading in Wyomissing.

Lasting two hours and 15 minutes, the summit produced a five-point set of initiatives that county officials pledged to pursue immediately.  Those ranged from strengthening county-city cooperation to a fact-finding trip to learn about a community program in Altoona.

Berks District Attorney John T. Adams and Christian Y. Leinbach, county commissioners chairman, were at the center of preparations for the summit.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=444689

Crime Stats For Reading Give Some Solace

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A week before a summit to address crime in Reading and Berks County, District Attorney John T. Adams pointed out that Reading is not on a list of the 100 most dangerous cities in the nation.

“This is good news,” Adams said Friday. “We are happy that we are not on the list of the most dangerous cities. I believe this is a result of the cooperative effort among law enforcement agencies.”

But officials said that does not lessen the need for next week’s meeting because the report from NeighborhoodScout.com indicates that 89 percent of the cities are safer than Reading.

“I do not see this as any great win,” Reading Police Chief William M. Heim said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=443204

Reading City Council Approves Loan Tied To Hotel Project

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the request of retailer Albert R. Boscov, City Council on Monday approved adding a $1 million city loan to the financing package for the $59 million Doubletree Hotel that Boscov’s nonprofit agency is trying to bring downtown.

Boscov’s Our City Reading is planning the 200-room hotel to be built in the 700 block of Penn Street opposite the Sovereign Center.

The city loan would not come from local tax revenues but from federal funds – so-called Section 108 money – that the city gets to fund development projects.

Boscov’s nonprofit has borrowed millions of dollars in Section 108 funds in the past.  Boscov noted that it’s always paid off the loans early, never taking the allowed 20 years, and this year will make a $1.5 million early repayment of another Section 108 loan.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=434432

Chamber Of Commerce President Joins Call For Reading Crime Summit

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with ...

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with Berks County courthouse on left; July 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While multiple independent efforts push toward scheduling a crime summit for Reading – including a pre-summit planning session set for Monday in the offices of state Sen. Judy Schwank – business executives are casting votes on the city’s tarnished image with their feet.

New executives hired by Berks companies are choosing to live in Chester or Montgomery counties, preferring greater proximity to Philadelphia, according to Ellen T. Horan, president and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry.  Horan, citing conversations with officials at Berks companies, said the perception of the city as crime-infested is repelling executive talent.

“The summit is a great idea,” Horan said. “I would like to see a little more urgency.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=434050

Art Lives At GoggleWorks; Artists To Live At GoggleWorks II

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Entertainment Square at Second and Washington streets is about to get another boost, this one aimed at combination apartment/studios for professional artists.

Retailer Albert R. Boscov this week said his nonprofit Our City Reading is ready to start on a $4.5 million renovation of a still-unused portion of the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts on the square’s northeast corner.

That five-story building, also called GoggleWorks II, is connected to the main building by overhead walkways.

It will get 20 to 25 so-called live-work spaces, ranging in size from 1,200 to 2,800 square feet, with roughly a third of each to be living space in the interiors, and two-thirds to be studio space next to the big windows of what had been a safety equipment factory.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=433907

Governor Seen As Key To Reading Crime Summit

Editor’s note:  While you are at it, include Pottstown.  The crime rate is just as bad as Reading!

As Berks County residents digest the latest spate of violence in Reading, retailer Albert R. Boscov has taken center stage in the protracted effort to pull together a crime summit.

Boscov said Wednesday that it was crucial for both federal and state officials – preferably Gov. Tom Corbett – to take part in the proposed group discussion of Reading’s crime problems.  He said both U.S. Sens. Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey have agreed to take part and that he was working to secure Corbett’s participation.

“I think he will come,” Boscov said.

A spokeswoman for Corbett said Wednesday night that he had not been invited to a summit but was open to the concept.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=433457

Boscov Asks Reading To Take $1 Million Loan For Proposed Hotel

Retailer Albert R. Boscov, whose nonprofit Our City Reading is trying to get financing for a four-star Doubletree Hotel along Penn Street, asked City Council on Monday to approve a $1 million federal loan as part of the package.

“If you can help us here, I promise you a hotel,” Boscov told council members.

Council is slated to vote on the deal Monday.

Read more:   http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=432953

Boscov’s Adds Furniture Line, Eliminates Appliances

English: Boscov's Department Store in the Exto...

English: Boscov’s Department Store in the Exton Square Mall. Built c. 1998 as an expansion to the mall, it displaced the Zook House which was on the NRHP in Chester County, PA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boscov’s is eliminating its section of appliances and electronics in its more than 40 stores and using the space to grow its furniture selections.

Albert R. Boscov, chairman of Boscov’s Department Stores Inc., said the furniture business is seeing growth, while sales of products such as televisions are not.

With high competition from stores that specialize in electronics, such as Best Buy, Boscov said the company is going to stick to what it does well.

Boscov’s is one of the last department stores that sell appliances, he said, selling those products longer than some of its competitors.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=428507

New GoggleWorks Director Brings Musical Background

On Saturday night, Phil Walz, executive director of the Greater Akron Musical Association Inc., worked through a major symphony concert, then handed over his keys.  On Sunday, he packed his truck and drove to Pennsylvania.

Today, he begins work as the new executive director of the eight-year-old GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Second and Washington streets.

“I see the opportunity to work in Reading as a real honor,” said Walz, 54.  “The GoggleWorks’ mission ‘to nurture the arts, foster creativity, promote education, and enrich the community’ is simple yet inspiring.”

He replaces Diane LaBelle, who had overseen the 2004 transformation of a vacant, four-story factory that once made safety equipment into a series of artists’ studios and public spaces, then led its operation for six years.  She left in June 2010.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=420979

Open House At GoggleWorks Apartments This Weekend

After years of planning and more than a year of construction, the $16.7 million GoggleWorks Apartments are far enough along that its sponsor, retailer Albert R. Boscov, plans an open house Saturday and Sunday.

The open house will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Second and Washington streets complex named after the late state Sen. Michael A. O’Pake.

Essentially, it will be just one apartment.  The furniture is being set up this week.

And it won’t be handicap accessible, at least not yet.  The two elevators are off-limits to the public because the building is still under construction; visitors will have to climb a flight and a half of stairs.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=391320