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Grand opening held for Exeter Commons

READING EAGLE

Local officials and mascots marked the grand opening of the Exeter Commons Shopping Center Friday morning with a ribbon cutting and goodie-bag giveaways.

Exeter Commons includes 490,000 square feet of retail on about 50 acres along Route 422. The site was developed by the Goldenberg Group, based in Blue Bell, Montgomery County, and Ironwood Property Group, of Conshohocken, Montgomery County.

When complete, Exeter Commons will have 18 retailers. So far, 15 have opened, including anchor tenants Target and Giant Foods. Also open are Affinity Bank, America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Chick-Fil-A, Famous Footwear, Five Below, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, GameStop, PETCO, Red Robin, Sleepy’s, Sonic, Supercuts and T-Mobile.

Lowe’s, the center’s remaining anchor, Staples and Wachovia Bank will open soon.

The center is 96 percent leased, according to the developers.

Friday morning, the Exeter High School marching band and drill team presented the national anthem and local officials spoke about the project.

Also present at the ribbon cutting were several retail and regional mascots: Red from Red Robin, Cow from Chick-Fil-A, Slapshot from the Reading Royals and Screwball from the Reading Phillies.

Construction on the $100 million project started in April 2008 and included major road improvements to Perkiomen Avenue and the West Shore Bypass, or Route 422. The shopping center’s first stores opened in July.

To pay for the $18 million in road improvements, the developers used several funding options from the local to the state levels. A tax plan will divert most of the center’s property taxes from Exeter Township, the Exeter School District and Berks County for the next 20 years. Also, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development awarded the project a $7.9 million grant.