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Façade improvement grants for downtown Reading available

by Greater Reading Chamber Alliance

Jul 24, 2019

Photo: David Zerbe Photography

From left, John Weidenhammer, president of the Berks Alliance, an affiliate of Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, joins Aaron Gantz, executive director of the Downtown Revitalization Partnership, at the site of an façade project at Corbit Brothers Building, 147 N. 5th St., Reading with its owner developer Alan Shuman.

Reading, PA – Applications for up to $10,000 grants for façade work in downtown Reading are being accepted by the Berks Alliance, an affiliate of Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, until Aug. 31, 2019.

In its second year, the façade improvement program aims to enhance the downtown Reading streetscape by strategically focusing on the physical environment and greening of Penn Street with plant scape plans and identifying buildings for facade improvement investment.

The Berks Alliance is a partner in GRCA’s five-year downtown revitalization plan. The grants help building owners leverage resources.

“We usually spend about two to three times the amount of the grant on building facades to make sure a truly first class job is done that preserves the façade for many decades to come,” Alan Shuman, developer of the Corbit Brothers building, 147 N. 5th St., one of two buildings currently undergoing a facelift. “In addition to preserving these great historic facades, the scaffold and ongoing work shows everyone that there is significant investment in downtown properties. With the current projects underway, we will have done five façade restorations using the Chamber’s grant program and hope to see many more property owners take advantage of the program.”

Including three this year, the program has so far funded 10 projects. Applications are reviewed by alliance staff along with a committee that includes architects and property owners.

“Many of these historic facades represent architectural and/or economic periods in Reading’s history that once gone, can never be replaced,” said Shuman. “One of Pennsylvania’s and especially Reading’s unique features are the beautiful historic buildings in the downtown area.”

“Selectively enhancing and improving the facades of downtown buildings contributes to creating a vibrant downtown that is clean, safe and visually attractive,” said John P. Weidenhammer, president of the Berks Alliance, which is a collaboration of anchor institutions dedicated to improving the health, wealth and educational attainment of Berks County citizens.

Interested building owners in downtown Reading can contact Aaron Gantz, GRCA executive director of downtown revitalization, at [email protected] or 610-898-7788.

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