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A development partnership is seeking zoning relief to develop apartments for older adults at a blighted former industrial complex in downtown Reading.
The Reading Zoning Hearing Board last week heard the request of HDC MidAtlantic and Landis Quality Living, both of Lancaster County.
The development team is seeking a special exception for adaptive reuse for senior apartments and dimensional requirements for mid-rise apartments at the former Berks Engineering site.
The 1.23-acre property on the southeast corner of Sixth and Chestnut streets is in the R-3 Residential Zoning District and Prince Historic District.
The complex includes 10 parcels on South Sixth and Plum streets.
The owner of record for all properties is Pennsylvania Artist LP, which has agreed to sell the parcels to the Lancaster partnership.
Gary Weaver of Tippets Weaver Architects, Lancaster, said the goal is to save and reuse the street-facing brick buildings.
The facades of the masonry structures fronting Chestnut and Sixth streets would be restored to appear as they did historically, he said.
This would include the oldest structure in the complex, a three-story building on the corner.
“That structure is still in relatively decent condition,” Weaver said. “It’s a portion of the site that hasn’t had a lot of weather penetration into the buildings and still has reasonably decent structure and good floor.”
Other buildings on the site suffered severe water penetration and collapsed roofs and floors and will be removed to make way for new construction.
Weaver said the design calls for three floors with a total of 51 units with 45 one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units.
“They all exceed the requirements of the zoning ordinance,” he said.
A fourth floor with six additional units could be added, Weaver said.
The plan includes a parking lot with 52 spaces, more than the number required by the zoning ordinance.
The project is intended to provide affordable housing for seniors, a representative of the developer said.
The rents will be between 20% and 60% of the area median income, he said.
“We haven’t finalized what the final rents will be because we’re waiting for the market study,” he said, “but we suspect that they’re going to be somewhere between $300 to $800. Maybe a little bit higher.”
Jamal F. Abodalo, city community development director, said he and the city’s administration support the proposed project.
“We feel that providing affordable housing in the city of Reading is one of the high demands, and city administration is in favor of that,” he said.
The project would also address a property that has been blighted for years, he said.
The joint venture of HDC MidAtlantic and Landis Quality Living co-own and operate affordable housing developments for seniors in Berks and nearby counties, including Market Square and Penn’s Common Court, both on Penn Street in Reading.
The board is expected to render a decision at its Dec. 13 meeting.
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