“Two-Tree” controversy shows there’s something for everyone in Reading

As many of you are well aware, Reading recently made its way into the national news scene again with the arrival of the city Christmas tree. The tree harvested from a city park for Reading’s annual tree-lighting ceremony was deemed by many residents to be “too ugly” to put on display, but because it was too late to do anything about it, the tree-lighting ceremony was held anyway.

In response to the protest from residents regarding the “ugly” tree, the city received a donation of a second, more “aesthetically pleasing” tree to replace the first one, only to be met with more protests from those who had gone fond of the so-called “ugly” tree. These protesters thought it would be going against the spirit of Christmas to take down a tree because it wasn’t “pretty” enough; after all, if it worked for the kids in Charlie Brown, shouldn’t it work for our city?

So, now the city of Reading has two Christmas trees. The original tree still stands in its place in Penn Square, and the more visually appealing tree stands at the entrance to the city, giving both sides a tree to meet at for their holiday festivities that suits their tastes. Though it may seem foolish to many, this situation is a perfect example of the variety of needs to which the city is capable of catering. The same can be said of the myriad of real estate opportunities available within the city limits: there’s a little something for everyone here.

Investors tend to split into a similar two groups when it comes to commercial properties: some prefer to invest in those properties which are immediately visually appealing and ready to sell, while others prefer the properties that require a little more rehabilitating before going back on the market.

Fortunately, within the city of Reading, there are plenty of both types of investment opportunities currently available. In 2014, multi-unit properties sold for as low as $12,500, with other properties of the same type selling for as much as $299,000. These multi-unit properties (housing anywhere from two to nine apartments) offer a healthy range in sizes: from 1200 to 4400 square feet. At this very moment, there are 80 multi-unit properties on the market in Reading priced between $10,000 and $100,000, and 53 between $101,000 and $1,000,000.

Whether your tastes run to properties that need a little TLC before they can go back on the market, or properties with a quick turnaround; whether you’re a fan of the Charlie Brown tree or the more attractive tree, there’s something for everyone here in the city of Reading.

Reading Awarded Sustainability Certificate, Joins National Sustainability Program

In a move that city officials hope will encourage further development, the City of Reading received its first sustainable community award at the end of September, and will be trying for three others in an effort to compete with sustainable cities across the nation.

To be considered as a sustainable community, the city must demonstrate that it is gaining business rather than losing it, as well as ensure that its first responders are familiar with a national system which controls responses to crises such as accidents, fires, and floods. Overall, sustainability promotes a healthy environment, a strong and healthy economy, and encourages the well-being of current and future residents within a community.

Now that the city has received a sustainability award at the state level, Mayor Spencer and his special assistant, Eron Lloyd, have entered the city into the National League of Cities’ Sustainability Tools for Assessment and Rating Communities (or STAR Communities) program. Mr. Lloyd believes the city has enough points to be designated as a three-star community, and the long term goal is to be awarded the coveted five-star designation in the next five years.

The Pennsylvania Municipal League awarded Reading a Gold Certificate in its Sustainable Pennsylvania Community initiative, and now the city is striving toward receiving the highest award possible, a Platinum Certificate. Sustainability has been a goal of Mayor Spencer D. Vaughn’s since before he was elected, and since he assumed the position, his administration has been consistently working toward it.

Hopes are high for sustainability efforts to bring in foundation money along with attention from developers to the city of Reading, rather than other communities without a STAR rating. Private developers will be provided with incentives to meet sustainability standards, but will not be penalized or forced to meet them, which the Mayor and his administration hope will spur businesses and investors to stimulate further growth and development within the city. Additionally, a number of major foundations belong to the STAR Community program, and are awarding a steadily increasing amount of grants and other assistance to STAR-rated communities. The combined potential of the city’s efforts toward sustainability should prove beneficial for city officials as well as current and future residents and investors.