A long-vacant piece of land could soon be the key to redevelopment in downtown Reading.
Al Boscov led state, county and city officials in breaking ground Friday on the DoubleTree Hotel in the 700 block of Penn Street, across from the Santander Arena.
"We've been dreaming of this for seven years," said Boscov, who's spearheading the $50 million project.
"It's a symbol of good things to come for Reading," said Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.
With multiple conference rooms and more than 200 suites, many hope the hotel will bring new jobs, tourism and conference activity, new economic opportunities and a growing sense of vitality to the city.
"It's a great time, a great opportunity for the city of Reading," said Mayor Vaughn Spencer. "I'm looking forward to seeing the revitalization of our downtown and, rest assured, it is not going to stop here."
The project is being funded mainly by private investors. Boscov told 69 News that profit generated will go toward enhancing the city in other ways.
The hotel is set to open in the summer of 2015. A 927-space parking garage opened on the site in 2010.
The downtown location will be the first for DoubleTree in Berks County. The chain is part of the Hilton Worldwide company, which does have a presence in Berks through its Hampton and Homewood Suites brands.