Community Development Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I open a business in the City of Reading?
- What does Reading have to offer my business and why should I move or expand my business to Reading?
- How do I apply for a small business loan?
- What is going on in Reading in terms of economic development?
- Where can I find a site for my business?
- How/where do I get zoning information?
- How do I apply for a business license?
- Does this office provide assistance to private landlords?
- How do I purchase a home if I am a low to moderate income family?
- How do I get a home repair loan?
- How many historic districts are located within the City of Reading?
- Are all of the City’s historic districts regulated?
- What is the difference between a National Register Historic District and a locally regulated district?
- What are the rules and regulations for properties located within a historic district?
- What is a Certificate of Appropriateness and how do I obtain one?
- When does the HARB hold its meetings?
- Do I need to attend the HARB meeting?
- How long does the HARB approval process take?
Your first step to opening your own business is to visit or call the Zoning Office.
The advantages to moving your business to Reading are clear; there are 100 million people who have easy access to your business. The City is only 55 miles from Philadelphia, 125 miles from New York and 145 miles from Washington D.C. The City has a skilled and diverse work force. You’ll find that doing business in the City will be most cost efficient as we have many sites and buildings to match your needs. For additional information, contact the Greater Reading Economic Development Partnership at http://www.greaterreading.com/” and the Reading Redevelopment Authority at http://readingredevelopmentauthority.org/
Contact the Community First Fund at http://www.commfirstfund.org/
Information on Economic Development in the Reading area can be found on the Greater Reading Economic Partnership website.
Anyone who is interested in zoning information is encouraged to contact the Zoning Administrator at 610-655-6505.
You must visit the Citizens Service Center in City Hall, room 1-27 to apply for a new business license.
At this time, the City does not have any programs that can be offered to private landlords.
You can contact the following organizations for assistance.
Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) at 610-372-8433
Habitat For Humanity at 610-373-3439
Call Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) at 610-372-8433
There five historic districts in the City of Reading: Callowhill, Prince, Centre Park, Penn’s Common and the Queen Anne District.
No. Only the Callowhill, Prince, Centre Park and Penn’s Common Historic Districts are locally regulated by the Reading Board of Historical Architectural Review (HARB). The Queen Anne Historic District is Reading’s only National Register District and changes to structures located within its boundaries are not subject to review by the HARB.
A National Register Historic District is a district that has been designated by the National Park Service as worthy of preservation and therefore has been placed in the National Register of Historic Places, a federal list of historically significant resources. National Register districts may or may not be locally regulated but are afforded some protection by municipality oversight when federal funds are used in a project that may have a negative effect on historic resources. A locally regulated historic district is a district established by a municipality that may be listed in or is eligible to the National Register of Historic Places. A locally regulated district is governed and protected by the Historic District Ordinance which establishes a review board (HARB) to review changes to buildings. Listing in the National Register of Historic Places does not necessarily protect buildings within a historic district from being altered or demolished whereas the historical integrity of structures located within a local historic district are provided protection through the Historic District Ordinance
If a property is located within one of Reading’s four local historic districts, all proposed exterior changes that can be seen from a public right of way require review by the HARB. The Preservation Officer has been authorized to approve certain in kind building improvements and painting of exterior surfaces. Certain proposed improvements may require review by City Council as per the Historic District Ordinance. The first step in the HARB process is to complete a Certificate of Appropriateness application.
A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is required for all new construction and exterior alterations to structures in a historic district that can be seen from a public right of way, including those visible from public streets and alleys. The application must be completed to include all specifications for proposed exterior work (submit paint color samples, material samples, and detailed drawings illustrating finished dimensions for signs, new construction and alterations). Apply to the Historic Preservation Officer for a COA prior to obtaining any required building permits. A COA application is available from the City’s Historic Preservation Office, City Hall, 815 Washington Street, Room 3-03, Reading, PA, 19601and on the website.
The HARB meets every third Tuesday of the month and COA applications must be submitted to the Preservation Officer ten working days before the regularly scheduled meeting. The meetings are open to the public
Attendance is not mandatory but is strongly recommended. If a property owner or person representing the project is not in attendance and therefore cannot answer pertinent questions, the HARB may table its review until the owner can attend and more information on the project can be obtained.
The HARB will review a project at the regular monthly meeting and in most cases will issue approval for a COA at the hearing. Once the COA is issued, a building permit may be obtained.