$1.7 million pledged to fund Reading revitalization

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Jan 18, 2018 4:09 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Community and business groups have joined the city of Reading in committing $1.7 million to support revitalization efforts in downtown.

The Berks County Community Foundation is the lead sponsor of the project, which seeks to attract new investments, businesses, and people to downtown Reading over the next five years.

Aaron Gantz, executive director of Downtown Revitalization at the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, says they'll measure the success of the revitalization with a few quantitative questions.

"Is there an increase in retail business in downtown? What's the occupancy rate? What's the turnover rate for some of those businesses?" she said. "And then the qualitative is taking a look at what's the business mix."

Gantz adds a big part of the plan is to create a positive perception of the city. She says she often hears people wishing Reading could go back to its heyday.

"No place can ever be what it was. You can't go backwards, you can only move forward," she said. 

The committed funds will help facilitate public events in downtown such as the Fire and Ice Fest, the Downtown Alive concert series and the farmers market, as well as new public arts programming.

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