PA Invests $500,000 in Downtown Reading Under Proposed Main Street Matters Program

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger, along with Senator Judy Schwank, Representative Manuel Guzman, Representative Johanny Cepeda-Freyitz, and other local leaders, announced that the Commonwealth will invest $500,000 in the Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF). The GBDF is affiliated with the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) and will use the funds to support Shuman Development Group’s project to renovate the Trexler Mansion (Elks Club) in downtown Reading.

“We want to grow our influence on the main streets in Pennsylvania and help local leaders fully develop their economies.” “That’s why the Governor is requesting $25 million to establish the Main Street Matters program. This program aims to support and promote the growth and prosperity of small businesses, downtown areas, and main streets throughout Pennsylvania,” stated Secretary Rick Siger.

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The Trexler Mansion is a large historic building that covers 27,000 square feet. It is located on a property that is an important part of the South Fifth Street area and the southern side of Reading’s Callowhill Historic District. The residential mansion was turned into the Elks Club Lodge 115 in 1908. However, it has been empty for the past 40 years. Shuman Development Group wants to fix up the old mansion. They will do this through their subsidiary company, Reading Historic Properties, LP, which currently owns the property.

There are plans to partner with Alvernia University’s CollegeTowne initiative to create meeting space for downtown job fairs. Additionally, the space will be used for special events related to the Reading Public Library’s literacy outreach programs. The majority of the $500,000 grant, which is part of the Keystone Communities Program, will be used for fixing the outside of the building.

This includes repairing or replacing the roof and roof structure, fixing the masonry, and restoring the windows. The City of Reading and Berks County have each pledged $300,000 to the project, along with the funding from DCED. This money will be used to cover the expenses of fixing the roof’s structural problems.

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