'The Knitting Mills' project showing signs of progress

$70 million being spent to redevelop 24-acre site

WYOMISSING, Pa. - Work to transform the VF Outlet Center into what will be called "The Knitting Mills" -- a mixed complex of office, retail, and restaurant space -- is showing signs of progress.

Crews have already gutted a large part of the former Designers Place building on the West Reading side of the 24-acre property, which was bought late last year by Philadelphia-based Equus Capital Partners

That part of the $70 million project began after the building's last remaining tenant, Reading China and Glass, closed its store over the summer.

Once work on the Designers Place building is complete in the spring, the VF Outlet will relocate its retail operation across the parking lot from its current space in the Red and Blue buildings, both of which are located on the Wyomissing side of the property.

That will allow crews to pick up the pace on tearing down the Red Building and transforming the Blue Building into UGI Energy Services new headquarters.

The work on those massive structures is already underway, even while they're still occupied by retailers and open for business. Crews have been carefully working to preserve key architectural elements of the Red Building, formerly home of the Berkshire Knitting Company.

The material they save, officials said, will be re-purposed for use in other projects, including Equus' new headquarters in Newtown Square, Delaware County, and in VF Outlet's new corporate office in the Designers Place building.

Plans for other parts of the property are also in the works. In addition to redevelopment of the Blue and Designers Place buildings, four of the five buildings between Cherry Drive and Hill Avenue are being transformed into space for new tenants.

Developers have yet to reveal any specifics regarding use of those buildings, but they have said that "the overwhelming response from interested tenants" prompted them to revise their original plans and keep four of the five buildings instead of only three.

Pottstown-based Sly Fox Brewing Company confirmed to 69 News earlier this month that it is in talks with Equus to occupy some of the space.

Also, construction of a Wawa is expected to get underway in the coming months. The convenience store will be built on the southwest corner of the property, near Penn Avenue and Park Road.

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