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WYOMISSING, PA-The groundbreaking of a mixed-use development here kicked off with the contribution of $2.5 million in state funds. The Urban Strategy America Fund, a New Boston real estate investment fund and the Washington, DC area Bozzuto Group are partnering to develop the apartment portion of the project, which includes the redevelopment of a former industrial warehouse into a mixed-use community with apartments, retail, office space and a hotel, which will be located in a class A, mixed-use urban community currently under development.

The public sector contribution to the project–while relatively small compared to the overall costs–was a welcome and surprising development, at least for this stage of the project, Kirk Sykes, president of the Urban Strategy America Fund tells GlobeSt.com. “We usually don’t begin a project with that kind of commitment.” It is more typical for public or gap financing to be contributed later in the project, he says. “It is great when it happens at this stage because it increases the returns of the project.”

One reason why the state economic development agency is participating, Sykes explains is that the project includes a rehab of an older industrial building. Also demand for new housing is significant in this area of the Commonwealth. The project will transform the industrial building into a four-story apartment complex by incorporating such elements as the red brick and expansive windows of the building that it is replacing. Also part of the project will be 14 stacking town homes in the rear of the development. The mixed-used project is called Wyomissing Square, which includes 31,000-sf of retail, 60,000-sf of office, an 18,000-sf restaurant, and a 135-room Marriott Courtyard hotel on 13.3 acres. Construction on the apartment building will be completed in early 2010.

Toby Bozzuto, principal with the Bozzuto Group tells GlobeSt.com that the firm is looking to build beyond its Maryland-DC-Virginia stronghold. “The Washington MSA is an extremely competitive market and we continue to do the vast majority of business here but we also recognize opportunities in Pennsylvania that aren’t quite on everyone’s radar screen.” The Pennsylvania multifamily market, he says, has good fundamentals worth investing in.

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