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

Reading Gets In The Holiday Spirit With Parade On Saturday

Reading, PA – You won’t want to miss the big-time addition to this year’s Holiday Parade in downtown Reading on Saturday. And when we say big, we mean big!

Snowflakes the Snowman will be the first-ever huge helium balloon to hover along the parade route. Measuring 50 feet high and 22 feet wide, Snowflakes will be holding a large bright-blue snow star in his right glove as he makes his way down Penn Street on Saturday morning.

The annual parade will start at 9 a.m. at 11th Street and proceed down Penn Street to Second Street. Free parking will be available at all Reading Parking Authority garages except the Poplar and Walnut garage.

In addition to the debut of Snowflakes, a second, smaller helium balloon in the shape of an antique ornament will be part of the procession, according to Charles R. “Chuck” Broad, executive director of the Downtown Improvement District, which is coordinating the parade.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519726

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

Spencer Announces Plan For Reading Development Corporation

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

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

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer announced his plan Wednesday to form a community development corporation dedicated solely to the city.

He said that in the past Reading has not taken a unified approach to attracting development.

Spencer added that efforts to develop Reading historically have been carried out by state or county development authorities, where the city isn’t always the top priority.

He said recent efforts generated by the city, like the Main Street designation and the purchase of properties in the 400 block of Penn Street, will soon become the purview of the Reading Community Development Corp.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=512694

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

Reading Gets State Designation As Keystone Community

Picture 533Editor’s note:  We are very pleased to see that the leadership is trying to move Reading forward and improve the city.

Led by two dozen chanting cheerleaders from Reading High School, a procession of city and state officials this morning marched down Penn Street to a Penn Square news conference to excitedly announce the city has gotten what it began seeking a year ago:

That’s state designation as a Keystone Community, which approves its inclusion in the Main Street program and its right to seek state economic development help and millions in potential grants.

“You’re taking the challenges you face head on . . . you’re thinking strategically,” C. Alan Walker, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, told the crowd as he announced the designation.

“One of the best things we can do to preserve our downtowns.  They’re worth preserving,” he said.

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said it’s always good to see something come to fruition.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=502542

Firefighters investigating Back-To-Back Fires In Harrisburg As Possibly Related Arsons

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

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

Harrisburg resident Michael Bordner had just put his eldest daughter to bed in his home at 2042 Susquehanna Street when, just after midnight Monday morning, chaos erupted.

“I laid down at about midnight and then, at about 12:15, I heard all the alarms going off in my home,” he said.  “At the same time I heard my stepfather saying ‘Get [your daughter] grab the dog; we have to get out, there’s a fire!’”

Bordner’s stepfather, Tim Bucher, who was visiting the house Sunday night, had woken up only moments before when he noted a strange smell and bright light emanating from the row house next door at 2044 Susquehanna Street.

“I peeked out the third floor window because something didn’t smell right,” Bucher recalled, almost from a daze Monday morning as firefighters stomped up the ruined stairs to Bordner’s home.  “It didn’t smell like a fire, but when I looked out the window and looked down I saw flames coming up from the floor below.”

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/firefighters_investigating_bac.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Reading’s New Spokes-Men: Police Expand Bicycle Patrols

Editor’s note:  We like this!!  Get those guys out there and visible.  It really is a crime deterrent!!

Six police officers in bright yellow shirts quietly pedaled through a courtyard toward Penn Street, emerging onto the sidewalk and startling pedestrians.

Several passers-by smiled at the men’s sudden appearance and one guy yelled out, “Hey, you look good!”

The officers were part of the Reading Police Department’s newly expanded bicycle patrols.

Eight officers were certified for the duty in May at the Reading Police Academy, bringing the total of certified bicycle officers to 30.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=490247

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

Reading Police Focus At 4th And Penn Streets Gets Results, City Says

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

A stepped-up Reading police focus on the area of Fourth and Penn streets in the first three months of the year yielded a trove of arrests, traffic tickets and apprehensions of people wanted on bench warrants, the city has announced.

Nineteen special details of officers on foot and in cruisers patrolled the area and made 31 arrests for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, drug violations and drunken driving, among other things.  In addition, 37 people who had failed to pay past traffic or parking tickets were taken into custody, as were six people wanted on bench warrants for failing to appear for court proceedings.

Police Chief William M. Heim said, “The reports we are getting from some of the business owners is that it is working, and they feel more comfortable and they think conditions are getting better.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=473001

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

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

Reading Holiday Parade This Saturday, November 17th

Christmas in the post-War United States

Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 3,500 proud participants will march down Penn Street this Saturday in the Reading Holiday Parade, presented by the Downtown Improvement District.

The Reading Police Honor Guard will lead the parade as it kicks off at 9 a.m. from City Park at 11th and Penn streets.  The Reading High School Marching Band will be the first of 10 school bands to fill the air with music.

When the parade arrives at Fifth and Penn streets, it will stop briefly while Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer lights the Christmas tree and the Menorah.  Then the parade will continue to its conclusion at Second and Penn streets.

“We expect more than 11,000 spectators,” said Barb Tarczynski, who celebrates her 25th year as parade chairperson this year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=427904

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

Treasure Hunters Take Over Downtown Reading

Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with Berks Cou...

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

Fourteen teams with names like The Mad House, Lady Berks and The Lucky Stars did a fast-walking search for treasure up and down Penn Street on Saturday afternoon, looking through stores, talking to total strangers and peering into restaurants.

The organizers, the Downtown Improvement District, hoped the participants would find that Penn Street itself is the treasure.

The is DID’s second year for the Downtown Reading Treasure Hunt, and with 87 people on the teams, including six groups returning from last year, there were double the participants.

“Our goal is to introduce people to downtown Reading who would not normally come down here,” said Charles R. Broad, DID executive director. “People get amazed at the kind of things they find here.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=384488