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of 2017. With my family remaining
in NYC until my daughter finished
school in June, I sought out a rental
that was both conveniently located and
appropriate for my role as incoming
Chamber President. My options were
limited, and I ultimately landed at 100
Park at Wyomissing. Even there, I had
my choice of only two vacant units, and
luckily one was a single-bedroom with
a den. The pricing wasn't cheap, but I
was also paying for important amenities
like an onsite gym, parking, business
center and a coffee bar. Being close
to West Reading, conveniently within
walking distance to its many shops, bars
and restaurants, was also an important
part of the draw. While there, I noticed
many of my neighbors were young professionals working at Reading
Hospital (they were easy to identify because many were wearing
hospital scrubs while leaving in the morning to head to work).

serve as the headquarters of UGI
Energy Services. Recently it was also
announced that the popular brewery
Sly Fox will also open a location at the
site. The additional residential density,
coupled with more workers commuting
into the area, should serve to further
strengthen the commercial corridor
along Penn Avenue.

Another recent development that
should continue the boom to the area
was the recent announcement by Tower
Health that they will be partnering with
Drexel University to build a medical
school in West Reading. To quote
from the press release: "The branch
medical school is anticipated to result in
a positive community and economic impact on the Berks County
region by way of increased jobs for physicians, educators, and
other disciplines, increased spending within the Berks community,
and elevated education level of the population." In other words,
While I would hardly define myself as a "young professional" increasing the density of skilled professionals who will look to live,
anymore, it was clear from my initial housing experience in Berks work and play in the area. So where does this all lead?
County that there are very few options available to the millennial
With little available undeveloped land left in West Reading, for
demographic. If talent attraction/retention of young professionals growth to continue, we will need to build up, not out. In other words,
is a key economic development strategy for our community, then we need to increase density in three ways: building, residential and
what placemaking activities must we undertake, and where will the population. The total floor area of buildings divided by land area of
activities take place? Enter West Reading.
the lot upon which the buildings are built is your building density.

To be clear, West Reading as a community would not be Residential density is the number of dwelling units in any given
considered a mecca designed only for millennials. There is clearly area. If done right, this will lead to population density, the number
a mixed demographic spanning a wide spectrum of both age and of human persons in any given area. In the case of West Reading,
income. The success and vibrancy of West Reading's commercial we are already seeing this process take shape organically. Hopefully
corridor along Penn Avenue is clearly a draw for many. West this trend will continue, because West Reading represents one of the
Reading is also anchored by Reading Hospital - Tower Health and most dynamic growth communities in Berks County, attracting new
the thousands of people they employ; professionals who work, play residents and sustaining a successful commercial corridor.
and increasingly want to live in the same area. The community
So, what does the West Reading growth mean for the City of
is also one of the more walkable communities in Berks County, Reading and our downtown revitalization efforts? Many will say
making it a nice destination for shoppers and day patrons alike. A that such development on the west side of the Schuylkill river
successful Main Street program supporting local retail and hosting will hamper downtown growth. We believe exactly the opposite.
successful weekend events is also an important part of the success West Reading's success is good for downtown Reading. As density
equation. From bustling restaurants and bars, to mom & pop increases in West Reading, the only logical place for it to continue
shops and a successful farmers market, in a small way West Reading is over the Penn Street Bridge. Furthermore, with the Penn Street
exemplifies the type of urban transformation that we are seeing in bridge reconstruction finishing in 2019, and a comprehensive plan
other cities like Lancaster. So where will this all lead, and why is to reconstruct the West Shore Bypass, we have an opportunity to
West Reading so important?
further expand transportation and pedestrian connections between
If we look at new development alone, West Reading, and the the two communities. Given our desire to see downtown Reading
area immediately adjacent in Wyomissing, represent the hottest develop into a mixed use residential/commercial community,
development ticket in Berks County. Two new major residential density in West Reading can serve as both confirmation of market
buildings are currently planned or under construction. The Lofts demand, and as a model for successfully integrating a commercial
at Narrow will feature 95 high-end rental units - one/two-bedroom corridor into a wider residential plan.
apartments complete with a rooftop pool and Etch Fitness on the
Why is West Reading so important? Simply put, it's the catalyst
ground floor. The former Arrow International Building at 1001 in our efforts to attract new talent and revitalize our community.
Hill Avenue is also planned to be converted into a 92-unit high end West Reading demonstrates that Berks County can provide the
residential building. Anchored between these projects is the massive amenities that young professionals look for when interested in
VF Outlets transformation being undertaken by Equus Partners, employment opportunities. The next step will be to spread that
turning the 34-acre site into an office and retail campus that will
success to Reading and surrounding municipalities.


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