Many are hoping a dusty lot will spell financial recovery for Reading.
Dozens gathered at North 8th and Oley streets to break ground at the old Reading Outlet Center.
The location will soon be the site of a new community shopping center. One of the marquee stores will be a Save-A-Lot supermarket.
"I think it's going to be a great project," said Mayor Tom McMahon, (D) Reading. "It's got high visibility. And it's going to serve the needs of this community very well."
Shuman Development Group is leading the construction efforts. The company said the tenants will vary from a 20,000 square foot day care center, all the way down to a Dollar Store.
"This is the densest residential area in Berks County, with 44,000 residents within walking distance," said Alan Shuman, president of Shuman Development Group.
The $6.3 million project was made possible with the help from local non-profits like Reading's future.
"We were able to get a grant of tax credits from the treasury department, federal tax credits," said Al Boscov, chairman of the non-profit Reading's Future, LLC. "We were able to offer them to Mr. Shuman, who sold them to Fulton Bank and made this project more of a reality."
City officials said the project could bring to the city much-needed jobs and revenue.
"More jobs, more money, better quality of life for people," said Councilman Francis Acosta.
The Save-A-Lot supermarket is expected to open its doors in April, but other retail shops may open as early as mid-December.