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

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Sovereign Center To Receive Larger Share Of Parking Funds

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

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

The Sovereign Center will get an extra $45,000 a year, thanks to the Reading Parking Authority’s agreement Wednesday to change the split of parking revenue coming from civic center events.

Since 2006, the authority has taken 75 percent of the revenue after expenses, giving the civic center 25 percent.

However, P. Michael Ehlerman, chairman of the Berks County Convention Center Authority that oversees the civic center, has asked that the parking board go back to the original split – the two sides each get 50 percent of the revenue after expenses.

The request came during a meeting of the authorities requested by Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer, said parking board member Lawrence P. Murin, who also is a special assistant to Spencer.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=505048

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

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

Local Leaders See City Of Reading Market Analysis

The greater Reading market value analysis that’s intended to guide the city’s housing and economic development efforts got some suburban buy-in Thursday at an Albright College forum.

More than three dozen community leaders, a third of them from municipalities surrounding Reading, got a first look at the study compiled by The Reinvestment Fund, Philadelphia.  Several said it could be a useful tool for the boroughs and townships as well.

“My biggest fear is, if this study sits on a shelf, the entire effort is wasted,” said Todd Auman, chairman of the Reading Redevelopment Authority, which commissioned the work.

Essentially, the analysis compared home sale prices, vacancy rates, percentage of rental versus owner-occupied homes, foreclosure rates and housing voucher statistics – down to the census block level in every municipality from Sinking Spring to Saint Lawrence – and assigned each census block one of eight different market types.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=426263

14 Houses Put On Blighted List By Reading Panel

The city’s Blighted Property Review Committee on Thursday certified 14 more houses as blighted, despite requests from some owners for more time to fix them.

It also removed six properties from its target list because owners had resolved problems. And it tabled action on three other properties.

Despite the certifications – which allow the city to take the properties, by eminent domain if necessary – the owners are in little jeopardy of the homes being wrested from them any time soon.

The Reading Redevelopment Authority, which would take ownership of the homes, has said it won’t take any property unless the city has an identified use for it – which is rare.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=386947

New Reading Mayor Calls Coordination Key To Jobs Plan

English: Reading City Hall on the NRHP since A...

Image via Wikipedia

Piggy-backing on a positive national report on job creation, Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer on Friday recounted what his administration is doing to create jobs in the city.

Primary among them will be to complete a plan on how the city and the Reading Redevelopment Authority can cooperate on economic development, he said.

The city already has a wider economic development plan, urging it to focus on one site at a time and find a new tenant for it.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=362749