Feds sign 10-year lease for office space in downtown Reading

US Marshals, courtrooms moving to Gateway Building

READING, Pa. - The federal government is about to place more of its Berks County operations under one roof.

The government's General Services Administration (GSA) has executed a 10-year lease for 30,000 square feet of space in Reading's Gateway Building at North Second and Penn streets, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) and the Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF) announced Thursday.

The deal, valued at $20 million, equates to about a third of the building's leasable space.

"This is a significant transaction for GSA and GBDF, and is another example of GRCA's and GBDF's commitment to invest in the economic development of downtown Reading," said Dan Langdon, chairman of the GRCA and GBDF's boards. "'Reading Matters' is one of our strategic themes. This lease is proof positive that we are pursuing that objective."

The GSA will relocate the federal District Court, Bankruptcy Court, U.S. Marshals Service, and Probation offices to the Gateway Building. Those operations have long been housed about two blocks away, in the Madison Building on Washington Street.

The federal government already has its Social Security office in the Gateway Building, which is one of two downtown office buildings owned by the Greater Berks Development Fund. Built in 1990, it's also home to the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.

"This lease extends the long-term relationship established between GSA and the GBDF, and affirms our intent and the community's ability to secure institutional grade tenants in downtown Reading," said Randy Peers, the chamber's president and CEO.

Work will now get underway to make the changes necessary to accommodate the needs of the federal government before its courts and offices can be relocated.

"There will be a significant amount of tenant improvements that will be undertaken over the next 18 months to meet GSA's requirements, at a cost of over $6 million," said Ed Swoyer, the GBDF's president. "GBDF engaged the professional services of Polek Schwartz Architects, Entech Engineering, and Burkey Construction, as construction manager, for this complicated project."

The building improvements, along with completion of the Penn Street Bridge rehabilitation in the fall of 2019, will be the most visible indicators, officials said, that downtown Reading is open for business.

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