Reading Royals To Be Sold To Berks Businessman

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

The Reading Royals will be sold to Berks County businessman Jack D. Gulati, officials involved in the deal announced today.

Gulati said he plans to keep the Kelly Cup winners in Reading and based out of the Santander Arena.

He has agreed to buy 100 percent of the team shares. Ownership had been split between the Berks County Convention Center Authority and SMG, the company that operates the arena.

The sale is contingent on EHCL, formerly East Coast Hockey League, approval.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/news/article/reading-royals-to-be-sold-to-berks-businessman#.Uv-jHPRDsxI

Enhanced by Zemanta

Local Chef Signs On At The Abraham Lincoln Hotel In Reading

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay most likely had bigger challenges for chef Andrea J. Heinly on Season 5 of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” but serving 160 French tourists carved top round in her new job as banquet chef at the Abraham Lincoln hotel definitely was top of the list of her new challenges.

“I didn’t know a lick of French,” Heinly said.

The French tour group is just the beginning of what’s in store for the 37-year-old Reading resident.

Heinly’s goal, she said, is to make the Abe the best place in Reading, the top banquet facility.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131214/MONEY/312149985#.UqyRsfRDsxI

Reading Fighting Hard For Redevelopment Designation

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said his staff knew they were in for a fight if they were going to beat out other Pennsylvania cities for two City Revitalization and Improvement Zone designations.

Today, Spencer said an application for the designation had been submitted and it was time to take the gloves off.

“It was a Herculean task from the start,” Spencer told a gathering in the former Citizens Bank building near the corner of Fifth and Penn streets.

Guidelines for the grants were issued Oct. 31, leaving only weeks to select an authority to oversee the CRIZ program; chose the 129 acres comprising 260 parcels; draw up a redevelopment strategy for the zone; and draft an application. The designation will allow the authority to take state and local taxes generated by properties in the zone and reinvest them in properties in the zone.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131203/NEWS/312029867#.Up5KB7B3uM8

Reading Authority Approves 250 Parcels For New Program

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

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

The City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority – working fast to meet a Nov. 30 deadline – on Friday approved 250 parcels spread over 129 acres to be included in the zone.

At its next meeting Monday, the 10-member board will be asked to suggest three or four potential projects on three or four of those sites.

Board members said the projects are realistic but are not set in stone, and will be used as illustrations of how the state’s newest economic development program could help Reading.

That program, aimed at attracting new firms with new jobs, lets cities use the new state and local taxes the zones generate to finance property purchases, infrastructure projects, and even new buildings.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519968

New Reading Authority Racing To Meet Deadline For State CRIZ Application

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

At its second meeting in as many days, the newly formed City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority continued racing a Nov. 30 deadline to apply for a state CRIZ designation.

“If we win, I hope the new zone will create jobs to help stimulate our economy and the community’s growth,” said Mike Toledo, director of the Daniel Torres Hispanic Center and authority treasurer.

The CRIZ program was created by recent state legislation to provide economic development and job creation within a city. Only two Pennsylvania third-class cities will receive that zone designation in 2013. Other candidates are Allentown, Bethlehem, Altoona, Wilkes-Barre, Chester, Erie, Lancaster and York.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519889

Reading Revitalization And Improvement Zone Authority Holds First Meeting

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

The newly formed City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority held its inaugural meeting Wednesday night to outline its agenda over the next week.

The authority will be working to identify a potential city revitalization and improvement zone.

The CRIZ program was created by recent state legislation. The state departments of Revenue, Community and Economic Development and the Governor’s Office of Budget administer the program.

A CRIZ zone is an area of up to 130 acres comprising parcels that will provide economic development and job creation within a city. All new state and local taxes collected within the CRIZ will be used to repay debt service to stimulate economic development projects within the zone.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519804

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

I-LEAD School Rocks Downtown Reading’s Redevelopment Plans

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

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

When CNA Insurance announced Monday that it was donating its downtown Reading office building to I-LEAD Charter School, it was done with quite a bit of fanfare.

The sidewalk outside the five-story building at Fourth and Penn streets was filled with people. Speakers praised CNA’s generosity and the work I-LEAD does.

Applause erupted as a ceremonial key exchanged hands.

But as the celebratory din diminished, some questions were raised.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=515758

Owners Donate CNA Building In Reading To I-LEAD Charter School

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

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

A major piece of the downtown Reading puzzle has a new owner.

The five-story, 260,000-square-foot CNA Insurance building at Fourth and Penn streets has been donated to the I-LEAD Charter School, company and school officials said.

“It’s a blessing from the sky,” said Angel Figueroa, vice president for resource and development at I-LEAD. “It’s going to change the lives of many young people.”

Officials from CNA and I-LEAD are expected to officially announce the donation at an event this afternoon.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=515104

State Agency OKs Millions More In Loans For Projects In Downtown Reading

English: Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with ...

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

A state agency has approved an extra $5 million in low-cost loans for new projects in downtown Reading, as well as an extra $1 million for the planned Doubletree Hotel on Penn Street.

The loans, sought months ago and already part of the hotel’s financing package, were formally approved today by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

Both packages will go through the Greater Berks Development Fund.

The $5 million will be available for as-yet-undetermined downtown projects, said Edward J. Swoyer, Greater Berks executive director.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=511616

Red Ink Intensifies For 2 Reading Civic Centers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

The numbers aren’t final, but Reading’s two civic center venues likely will take another operating loss of about $800,000, as paid attendance continues to dwindle.

The Berks County Convention Center Authority said Thursday that the anticipated loss from the season that ended June 30 is similar to the $786,000 loss posted the prior season.

“The unaudited numbers are no better this year than last year,” Treasurer Carl D. Herbein said.

Paid attendance has fallen 16 percent over the past five years for the Sovereign Center arena and Sovereign Performing Arts Center theater, said Chairman P. Michael Ehlerman.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=502751

New Cafe Opens In Downtown Reading

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

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

Reading PA – The customers of the cafe on the first floor of the M&T Bank building didn’t have much time to be disappointed when Dessert Dreamz moved to West Reading in June.

That’s because the cafe at 50 N. Fifth St. was vacant for only about a week until it reopened with the name Reggie’s Place.

Reggie McMullen, 54, of Cumru Township said she has worked in the food industry all of her life and served as catering manager for Panera Bread.

Building owner Alan Shuman knew of McMullen’s experience and contacted her when he found out Dessert Dreamz would be moving.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=502219

Project Assures Penn Street A Project Visibly Brighter Future

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Penn Street is slated for $1 million in upgrades this summer that will include new and brighter streetlights from Second to Eighth streets.

It also will include replacing the gap-toothed crosswalks at Penn’s intersections with Second and Third, replacing the bouncy bricks with plastic grids like the crosswalk at Eighth and Penn.

Both projects will get underway at the same time, likely August or September, city Public Works Director Charles M. Jones said.

And he said both are funded by federal highway grants, not local tax money.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=483519

Abe Lincoln Hotel Sold; $10 Million Renovation Planned

Picture 533

It took more than a year and a half, but Reading entrepreneur Alan Shuman finally got what he wanted: The Abraham Lincoln hotel all to himself.

With settlement completed Tuesday, Shuman’s entity, Lincoln Hotel LP, paid $5.05 million to add the 104-room historic hotel to his downtown real estate portfolio. That figure includes about $2.25 million in real estate and the rest in furnishings, fixtures, equipment, contents and the assumption of debt.

Shuman said he plans a $10 million renovation, of which $300,000 has been spent.

His plans include restoring the hotel and its rooms, adding a pool two-thirds of the size of an Olympic pool and reopening the Abe Saloon.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=470286

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

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

GoggleWorks Arts Festival A Big Draw

Her travel plans to the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts were set a week in advance.

But early Sunday morning, Gail Rosenkrantz woke up in her New York apartment, hailed a cab to the Port Authority and wasn’t quite sure about where she was going.

Finally, after catching the 9 a.m. Bieber Tourways bus to Reading, she sat down and heard the question that was already on her mind:  “Why are you going to Reading?  It’s so dangerous,” another passenger asked.

Upon arriving at her destination, however, the 72-year-old legal secretary walked into the inaugural arts festival Reading and found the soft silk scarves she sought, along with welcoming gestures from strangers.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=422432

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

GoggleWorks Open-Air Studio Livens Up 400 Block Of Penn

The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts brought the arts downtown Wednesday with painters, potters, sculptors and more.

Eighteen artists came to the center’s first open-air studio in the 400 block of Penn Street.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=420121

Penn Square Consultants Get An Earful

Editor’s note:  Taking care of the root problem needs happen…crime and blight need to be addressed before cosmetics can lure people downtown.  Cleaning up the downtown is necessary but business owners and shoppers need to feel safe above all else.  Without the root problem being addressed, it’s another case of putting lipstick on a pig.

The consultants designing Downtown 20/20 – what Penn Square should look like to attract more out-of-towners – say they’ve gotten an earful of criticism and suggestions at three recent public hearings, and have tweaked the plans to accommodate some comments.

But they also got an earful this week from City Council members, who said that although they liked the ideas, nothing will happen until the city begins resolving Penn Square’s larger issues.

“Nobody wants to go downtown with all the drunks sitting around,” Councilwoman Donna Reed said at a work session with the 20/20 steering committee and the consultants. “It’s just an uncomfortable, disgusting place to walk.”

She said the Downtown Improvement District said its biggest challenge is dealing with public drunkenness, and the city needs to start enforcing its loitering laws and getting rid of the reeking trash containers on North Fourth Street.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/Article.aspx?id=410399