Multi-Billion Dollar Riverfront Project Still On Drawing Board
By: WFMZ in Allentown
Big plans for Reading’s riverfront are still flowing, but funding has all but dried up.
The RiverView project was unveiled in Reading in 2008.
“We’re still here, four years later,” said James Burdge, Giannasca Development Group’s chief operating officer.
RiverView is the multi-billion dollar brainchild of Giannasca, which boasts other successful commercial projects in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and in Miami.
But so far, there’s been no change to the landscape along the Schuylkill River in Reading.
“For a while now, the commercial financing markets for real estate developments like [RiverView] has been dried up,” Burdge explained.
Not much has changed as far as the physical plans that were unveiled four years ago. Giannasca still wants to develop 110 acres along the riverfront in Reading, with a price tag of $3 billion.
What has changed is the approach to funding RiverView.
“I think the P3 bill is very close to being passed,” said Burdge
Burdge said he and his colleagues have been spending time lobbying in Harrisburg. They’re pushing for the passage of a bill that would pave the way for public private partnerships for infrastructure improvements in Pennsylvania.
Burdge believes the promise of better infrastructure will help unlock lending for mixed use projects, like RiverView.
“We started going globally and have a lot of interest globally because there’s a lot of cash reserves in the world that are interested in investing in bonds and things like that in the United States,” said Burdge.
In the meantime, Burdge said Giannasca maintains its office on Canal Street in Reading and progress is made daily, although they’ve yet to purchase any property.
“Normally, you don’t actually physically purchase and close on the properties until right before construction,” Burdge explained.
Reading city officials told 69 News the Giannasca group checks in from time to time, but it has not made any official requests.
Burdge said the down economy is not the first national hurdle the developer has encountered. He said the September 11 attacks hurt the hotel industry and delayed Giannasca’s major project in Baltimore.
Hurricane Katrina had similar affects on another one of the company’s developments in New Orleans.
“You’re going to run into obstacles,” said Burdge. “If it were that easy, everybody would be a real estate developer.”
see www.wmfz.com for original article.
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