Reading loses bid for revitalization, improvement zone

State awards special designations to Bethlehem, Lancaster

Reading CRIZ

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Reading has lost its bid to be awarded one of Pennsylvania's two City Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ) program designations, despite a push from state and federal lawmakers.

Gov. Tom Corbett announced Monday that he has awarded CRIZ designations to Bethlehem and Lancaster.

"Naturally, we had hoped that Reading's application would be successful this year,  but we are not discouraged. To the contrary, we are confident that we can successfully compete in a subsequent round," said Lenin Agudo, Reading's community development director.

The CRIZ program is designed to spur new growth in cities that have struggled to attract development, help revive downtown areas and create jobs.

"Our local communities are the foundation of Pennsylvania's economy," Corbett said. "We developed the CRIZ program to spark local economic growth, create jobs, and improve the lives of city residents and visitors."

Reading's proposed zone included recently acquired properties in the 400 block of Penn Street, the Abraham Lincoln (Wyndham) Hotel on North Fifth Street, the former Baldwin Brass facility, the former Luden's candy factory, the Interstate Container industrial property, and the Rockland Plaza shopping center and additional commercial/industrial properties near Albright College.

"Facing the difficulties we have, Reading will need to continue to work hand-in-hand with our business community, our economic development community, and the people of the city of Reading to show a united front as we seek to help Reading climb out of Act 47 status," said Pa. Rep. Tom Caltagirone, a Reading Democrat.

"We need to work in a bipartisan manner to draft legislation that will allow the state to designate cities like Reading as CRIZ zones on an annual basis, and I have commitment from the governor's people to help support the legislation," he added.

Other cities that applied for the special designation include Erie, Wilkes-Barre and York. They will be eligible to apply for the next round of designations in 2016.

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