Ricktown Master Plan, March 2012

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The City of Reading is in need of visionary transformation, and in recent years the arts have emerged as a potential key to revitalization in cities like Reading . In a 2010 report for the National Endowment for the Art’s Mayors’ Institute on City Design, Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa describe the process of “Creative Placemaking.” This concept is one of the driving forces behind the Ricktown Arts District initiative.

“In creative place making, partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities,” according to Markusen and Gadwa (2010, p. 3).

Planners focus on making an area more physically attractive by animating public and private spaces, and rejuvenating structures and streetscapes. However, the ultimate goals of any creative placemaking plan are multi-faceted and include improving local business viability and public safety, celebrating community diversity, and promoting resident pride and ownership among other things. (Markusen and Gadwa, 2010).

The Ricktown Arts District is a creative placemaking effort focused on a 10-block area of the City of Reading . The focus area is kept to a modest size intentionally. In 2010, the City was advised by the State’s Department of Commerce and Economic Development, to target investment in one compact area as part of the City’s Act 47 Recovery Plan. This strategy will allow the City to show success and make a significant impact with limited resources in one particular area. The City would then use that model to develop other areas rather than stretching resources with little impact across the entire City of Reading .

The Ricktown Arts District Master Plan provides recommendations and outlines specific ways to capitalize on the neighborhood’s existing arts and cultural assets, create new arts and cultural features, improve public spaces, use public resources and partnerships, attract new and retain current residents and investors, and encourage resident ownership and participation in order to spur overall community improvement. If successfully implemented, the plan will drive economic development and private investment in the neighborhood,The City, and eventually throughout Greater Reading .


To cultivate the renaissance and revitalization of Reading’s Ricktown neighborhood through arts and culture, community engagement, and sustainable development.


  • Create a diverse, sustainable neighborhood offering affordable housing options, cultural and entertainment activities, and live/work space for artists and artisans.

  • Engage current residents in the development of the neighborhood, transforming the physical and social character of their community by making it a cleaner, safer and more walkable district.

  • Encourage targeted public/private investment to rejuvenate structures, improve public spaces and enhance business viability.

  • Emphasize and celebrate the area’s historic heritage as a self-contained urban community, using it as a model for redevelopment.

  • Develop and support active management, promotion, and advocacy for Ricktown.


The Ricktown Arts District Revitalization Initiative has been strengthened significantly by an exceptionally thoroughgoing community engagement process. Key stakeholders from residents, the private and public sectors, and the arts community, have been engaged in a process of needs assessment through the implementation of various methods of data collection and analysis.

Data on existing physical conditions has been collected exhaustively throughout the master planning process. Information on the ownership and condition of residential, commercial, and industrial property has been recorded and quantified in order to create this master plan. Written and illustrative information has been documented and used to guide the master plan.

Qualitative data collected from residents and other stakeholders also plays a vital role in shaping the goals of the initiative and the master plan. Data on community wants and needs have been collected through various qualitative methods such as focus groups, S.W.O.T. analysis and a community design charrette.

Community outreach and data collection will be described in further detail within the master plan. Using these methods for future community improvement and planning projects will be recommended as a best practice for the development of this initiative.

Outreach efforts for this initiative have spurred resident involvement in overall community improvement, even preceding the creation of the master plan. Maintaining community involvement stands as a paramount goal in successfully implementing the Ricktown project.

For the full plan please download and view the Ricktown Master Plan PDF LOCATED HERE or at the top of this page.