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Idle Potential: Atlantic Market Could Become Urban-style Mixed-use Development

Reading, like most communities, needs new businesses to thrive. This week, we look at places where those new businesses could soon take root and the challenges they face there.

The Atlantic Market closed in 2008 after more than eight decades of supplying Reading with groceries. Now, it stands as an empty, silent concrete structure that dominates the Western end of Haven Street.

Stickers wrinkling from the windows and remnants of equipment visible inside hint at its grocery store past, but Oaktree Development has other plans for the old Atlantic Market.

Oaktree plans to redevelop the lot as a four-story mixed-use structure with retail on the ground floor, and condos on the 2nd through 4th floors.

The development, called 30 Haven and cultivated under Reading's recently adopted Downtown Smart Growth Zoning District, would represent a significant change for the town.

The result, according to submitted plans, would include 50 residential units – 14 with one-bedroom and 36 with two-bedrooms – and six retail spaces. That would place a block of urban-style development in the heart of an otherwise suburban town.

Planners invested time and effort into creating a plan for the site, but the process has stalled. Before the town can approve Oaktree's site plan, it must complete a public hearing. The Community Planning and Development Commission began a public hearing for the site in May, but continued it amid questions about parking, traffic and how the project could affect the site's neighbors.

The committee again continued the hearing later that month before Oaktree asked for an extension - first to August, then to the end of the year.

Status: In progress and awaiting a completed hearing.

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