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Official on City Revitalization and Improvement Zone in Reading: 'We need this more than anybody'

By Liz Kilmer, Reporter, LKilmer@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 02 2013 04:12:38 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 03 2013 04:39:01 AM CST

With just weeks to go before Pennsylvania selects two recipients of a City Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ), Reading officials are crossing their fingers.

READING, Pa. -

With just weeks to go before Pennsylvania selects two recipients of a City Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ), Reading officials are crossing their fingers.

"We're ready to go. Hopefully, we'll be chosen," said Pa. Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks Co.

City and state officials gathered Monday to discuss their proposed zone in the former Citizens Bank building on Penn Square, just one of the many areas involved.

Other parts of the pitch include the Abraham Lincoln (Wyndham) Hotel, the former Luden's candy factory, the former Baldwin Brass facility, Northeast Industrial Park, the Rockland Plaza shopping center and the Interstate Container industrial property.

"It's time for Reading to state its case, to make the argument to Harrisburg that we really need this more than anybody," said Peter Rye, chairman of the City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority (CCRIZA).

If selected, the CCRIZA would have the ability to issue bonds for development within the CRIZ. Then, in turn, the authority would receive various state and local taxes generated as the result of that development.

"[CRIZ] will really be a great tool for us to spur private development, using tax dollars that actually would have gone to the state or local government, but are being devoted to development," said Schwank.

Officials said they hope the CRIZ would not only increase revenue but create jobs and foster business opportunities.

"Everybody has a passion for wanting to see development in Reading," said Rye.

The state is expected to make its decision by Dec. 15. Currently, eight cities are eligible, including Lancaster, York and Bethlehem. Two additional cities are expected to be selected in 2016.