READING, Pa. – It's the longest vacant high-rise in Berks County, and it will be getting a new look.

"This is a really unique building in that it's extremely narrow … it's only 29 feet wide," said Alan Shuman, owner of the Shuman Development Group.

The Reading Medical Arts building on North Fifth Street is getting a $2.25 million grant to go towards a nearly $10 million renovation project.

The developer said it's set to have up to 60 apartments, with construction scheduled for 2022.

"So it's way up here on the north end of the central business district so you got fabulous views all the way around," Shuman said. "You got the Pagoda on the east side, you got Wyomissing and the new Drexel building over on the west side."

The development comes as revitalization talks involving Reading City Council members have been getting heated.

In a Monday night meeting, Councilwoman Donna Reed said she thinks Reading is lagging behind other nearby areas in terms of revitalization.

"We are an embarrassment," Reed said. "We have not for years and years reached our potential of what we could be."

Some councilmembers said they'd like to see the final version of the Stantec Consulting Services strategic plan for the city, which Mayor Eddie Moran's administration said includes another hotel.

"At this point in time, the need for another one seems questionable, at least to me, at this point," Reed said, "'because we do have suburban hotels literally over the city border in Wyomissing and West Reading that I believe have some vacancy issues at this point."

The Moran administration said it's been taking a proactive approach to revitalization.

Reed said she believes Alvernia University's Reading CollegeTowne is a great step, but she said she'd like to see more businesses.

"We need to encourage different kinds of businesses, a diverse group of businesses, from small manufacturing to office and retail," Reed said, "and we've got to have a plan to do that."

As far as specifics about the hotel, the city said discussions are still ongoing.

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