Growing Route 61 Development in Ontelaunee Township

Construction of a 652,080 square foot warehouse along Highway 61 has been underway for several months and is one of three major projects approved for construction along the corridor in the Township of ‘Ontelaunee.

Crow Holdings Development of Dallas owns the land and is building the warehouse.

Adam McGill, director of communications for Crow Holdings, said the expected completion date was Jan. 1.

Township supervisor Gary Hadden said he was told Crow already had a tenant lined up for the warehouse. However, McGill would not confirm this.

McGill said the warehouse is expected to create 350 full-time and part-time jobs, but the exact number will be determined by which tenant ultimately occupies the space.

BILL UHRICH — READING EAGLE

A warehouse is under construction on the east side of Route 61, just south of Route 73. Various construction projects are underway in Ontelaunee Township within the Route 61 corridor. Two are expected to be completed in early 2023. (BILL UHRICH — READING EAGLE)

The territory and the projects

Crow subsidiary CHIPT Reading Ontelaunee LLC purchased five parcels totaling just over 58 acres along Highway 61 for $6.55 million from the Greater Berks Development Fund on Nov. 11, 2021, records show. Berks County Deeds.

Most of the land was previously owned by the Kathryn M. Heffner Revocable Trust until 2019.

McGill did not disclose how much Crow Holdings Development is spending on building the warehouse.

Crow Holdings land is bounded to the north by land owned by Reitnouer Real Estate LP, Highway 61 to the west and Maiden Creek to the southeast corner.

“Primary traffic to the warehouse will come from Route 73 onto Ontelaunee Drive and then down that road,” Hadden said. “That corridor would be rebuilt, going to Crow Holdings. This will also host Reitnouer Trailers.

Wiley’s Lane bisects land owned by Reitnouer, which has approved plans to build a 450,000 square foot aluminum flatbed trailer manufacturing plant and 18,000 square feet of office space. They haven’t launched the project yet.

“We are the largest manufacturer of aluminum trailers in North America,” said Bud Reitnouer, owner, president and CEO of Reitnouer Inc., on June 17.

Now the company is headquartered in Cumru Township and has an address in Birdsboro. Reitnouer said Reitnouer Inc. also leases about 125,000 square feet in Muhlenberg Township.

In April 2021, Reitnouer Real Estate LP purchased nearly 68 acres on Routes 61 and 73 from the Greater Berks Development Fund for $6.5 million. The property had been sold by F&G Family Farm LP to the Greater Berks Development Fund in December 2019. Wiley’s Lane bisects the property.

“There will be no additional traffic lights, but the area will be improved at the intersection of Ontelaunee Drive and Route 73,” Hadden said. “This intersection will be improved and there will be some upgrades to Route 61 and Route 73 to accommodate the volume of traffic.”

The utility poles were moved as part of a planned widening of Route 73 across from Schuylkill Valley High School.  Various construction projects are underway and planned in the Township of Ontelaunee in the Highway 61 corridor. (BILL UHRICH ??

Just north of the intersection of Routes 61 and 73, there is another construction site on the other side of Route 61, next to Rutter’s.

The 14-acre site is being developed into a Bobcat of Reading dealership by Crownstone Equipment of Hanover, York County. A Bobcat is a small piece of heavy equipment used for digging and loading. Crownstone is a subsidiary of McGrew Equipment Co., of Seven Valleys, York County.

“Reading will be our sixth location,” said Marissa Horsey, Marketing Director of Crownstone Equipment, noting that this is the first dealership they will build from the ground up.

“Serving the construction, landscaping, agriculture, forestry, and lawn and garden industries in Berks County is something we’ve wanted to support from the beginning of Crownstone’s existence. said Scott Kelly, executive vice president of Crownstone Equipment, in an email on July 8. “Choosing the Reading area was a no-brainer as it is in the heart of Berks County.”

Crownstone operates Bobcat dealerships in Adams, Lancaster and York counties and two in Maryland: Frederick and Hagerstown.

Construction site with heavy equipment and workers

BILL UHRICH — READING EAGLE

A Bobcat dealership will be located on the west side of Route 61 next to Rutter. Its opening is scheduled for January. Various projects are underway in the Township of Ontelaunee in the Highway 61 corridor. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

“Our aim is to be open by January 2023, but customers in the Reading area can already use our service through our Bobcat of Lancaster store,” Horsey said via email.

She said 6 acres of the company’s land will be used for a 12,000 square foot sales and service building.

“We hope to provide up to 15 new jobs in the Reading area, including service technicians, sales staff and more,” Horsey said in the email.

“The Bobcat franchise was part of Lift Inc.,” Hadden said. “This franchise was taken over from Lift by York Bobcat. With their agreement they had an obligation to build a brick and mortar building in Berks County and that is the site they chose and that is what is currently under construction.

According to county deed records, Pottsville Pike Properties LLC, another subsidiary of McGrew Equipment, purchased the 14-acre lot next to Rutter on Dec. 28, 2020, for $1.8 million from the Greater Berks Development Fund. . The property was previously owned by Berks Products Corp. until 2017.

Map showing development in Ontelaunee Township

Corey McCarty – Reading Eagle

Commercial development approved along Highway 61 in Ontelaunee Township. Reitnouer Trailers has not yet innovated. The Bobcat dealership and Crow Holdings warehouse are expected to be completed in January. (COREY MCCARTY – READING EAGLE)

Tax impact and traffic

Hadden welcomes the development in a municipality where he says 25% of the township’s 6,000 acres are tax-exempt.

“As a township supervisor, I tend to be more in favor of seeing companies establish a nice tax base for the township and also the school district without putting pressure on the school district with the number of students,” Hadden said.

“For the township, I can say that it would be great if we could develop a tax base that would allow us to reduce our taxes, but it’s hard to say because every year the costs continue to increase. At least with the increase in development and business, even if the costs increase, it will not increase our taxes anymore because basically we can cover the new costs with the new tax.

David E. Moll, chairman of the Schuylkill Valley School Board, was less optimistic about the ability to cut taxes.

“The overall answer is going to be unknown, because until the building is built and the appraisal is complete, whether there are interim bills or actual bills come in, it’s going to be unknown,” Moll said. “It would be doubtful whether this would result in lower taxes for the Schuylkill Valley, but at this stage we cannot give an answer. … Moreover, these developments usually require reassessments and are subject to appeals. So it happened frequently in our school district, so we’re not counting on anything.

Moll explained that Crow Holdings applied for Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, or LERTA, after the project was already underway. This tax allowance was refused.

Hadden said Reitnouer Trailers successfully applied for a tax abatement plan and received a seven-year agreement from the county, township and school district. The countdown will begin once construction is complete and the property is appraised.

He said the Bobcat dealer had not received a LERTA.

Bobcat of Reading will share an entrance with Rutter’s on Route 61 southbound. It will also be accessible from New Enterprise Drive.

“Primary traffic to the warehouse will come from Route 73 onto Ontelaunee Drive and then down that road,” Hadden said. “That corridor would be rebuilt, going to Crow Holdings. This will also host Reitnouer Trailers.

Speaking as an individual and not for the school board as a whole, Moll expressed concern about increased traffic near the Schuylkill Valley campus.

“I am worried about our buses. I worry about the parents. But I’m especially worried about our young drivers who will be coming in and out of campus and will now have to interact with more tractor-trailers,” he said.

Route 73 is going to be widened, and Moll said utility polls have already been moved.

About Mary Moser

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