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Cold-storage warehouse planned for former Dana Corp. site gets zoning approval

A proposed cold-storage warehouse at the former Dana Corp. site has moved a step closer to construction.

The Reading Zoning Hearing Board has granted the variances needed for the height of the proposed building and temporary construction equipment on the site.

The property is in the MC manufacturing commercial zoning district.

The project is expected to create 175 jobs, as well as new tax revenue for the city.

City Council voted last July to sell the 50-acre parcel — formerly known as the Dana South site — at 1 Berkshire Place to NewCold USA Real Estate Holding LLC for $4.5 million.

The sale is contingent upon the developer obtaining the required zoning and planning commission approvals within one year.

Kelsey Frankowski, an attorney for NewCold, said plans call for a 417,000-square-foot warehouse facility for the storage and distribution of frozen food products. The 150-foot-high building is designed to accommodate the need for vertical storage, she said.

A variance is needed because the city’s ordinance prohibits buildings in the MC district from exceeding 60 feet in height. A variance is also needed for airport height limitations, as the site is in the airport overlay zone.

The zoning board granted relief in April on the conditions that the applicant obtain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and Reading Regional Airport and that a preliminary land development plan, if necessary, be prepared to address the provisions required by the city’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.

Representatives for NewCold said the developer has been in communication with the FAA and Reading Airport to ensure compliance with the requirements.

The city is in full support of the project, Jamal Abodalo, Reading’s community development director, testified during the hearing in March.

The applicant has not yet submitted an application for land development to the planning commission, Abodalo said Wednesday.

The development would not be possible without the River Road extension, city Managing Director William Heim said last year.

Trucks are expected to use the bypass, completed last year, to access the warehouse site west of Clinton Street.

During peak hours, approximately 12 trucks will enter and exit the premises, said Justin Kuhn, a representative of the developer. Employee traffic is expected to generate another 33 vehicles, he said.

A traffic study will be conducted as part of the land development requirements, Kuhn said, noting the traffic is not expected to impact nearby residential neighborhoods, schools or the Olivet Boys and Girls Club’s Clinton Street pool.

The city bought the parcel in 2019 for $1.54 million from the Reading Redevelopment Authority after the authority defaulted on a loan it had taken to buy the property.

The authority acquired the parcel for $1.65 million in 2013, six years after the Berkshire Bottling Works ran out of funds and abandoned a partially built plant on the site.

Source: Berkshire mont

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