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Old outlet building may be demolished rather than renovated

Old outlet building may be demolished rather than renovated

READING, Pa. - A 111-year-old building may soon become a thing of the past. Efforts to restore the one-time iconic Reading Outlet Center Building 1 haven't gone as planned.

In November 2011, ThinkLoud Development LLC., announced plans to transform the building at North 9th and Douglass streets at a cost of $34 million.

Fast forward to 2013. The price tag to renovate the building turned out to be higher than demolishing the building.

Now, developers are leaning more toward tearing down the building despite preferring to renovate it, said Bill Hynes, CEO.

"We think we can make a bigger impact to the city of Reading and to the residents of Reading if we knock this building down," said Hynes, adding that demolition and new construction will save $15 million. "We think we can deliver over 180 residential units, with probably over 100,000 square feet of commercial space at a cost of half of what it would cost to rehabilitate the current structure."

Mayor Vaughn Spencer, D-Reading, said the building no longer qualifies as a historic structure.

"When you look at the weather damage of some of the windows being out cost and also the asbestos in there, it just made it more difficult to conceive and rehab that building," said Spencer.

Building 1 has been vacant and an eyesore for the past 20 years, said Spencer, who noted that if the decision is made to demolish this part of Reading's past, he believes the outcome would be a positive one.

"In the overall scheme of what they want to do, it may be the right thing to do," said Spencer.

ThinkLoud Development LLC. is waiting on one last report before it gets the green light to demolish the building, which is expected to happen in two months.

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