Amidst the festive atmosphere of Pumpkin Palooza, one its largest community events, leaders from GoggleWorks Center for the Arts held a groundbreaking ceremony for Phase 1 of the GoggleWorks Art Park this past weekend.
This landmark occasion welcomed a host of leaders and celebrated the construction in downtown Reading, which will include new greenspaces, an outdoor cafe, two performance stages, and a restaurant operated by DoubleTree by Hilton Reading.
“Our shared dream is that the Art Park becomes our vibrant town square, the heart and soul of our blossoming city,” said Sandy Solmon, CEO of Sweet Street and chair of the GoggleWorks Art Park committee. “It will be so beautiful, so green, so welcoming, and so collaborative that all aspects of our diverse community will pour onto our grounds, inviting participation inside our walls as well. And in this creative hub, the making and sharing of art and conversation will transform each of our lives and ultimately our community.”
Leaders designed the groundbreaking activities to emphasize the organization’s commitment to community growth, unity, and sustainable placemaking. Local and state representatives, dignitaries, and project supporters convened on the fall-themed event to plant vegetation into portable soil beds.
“While this is a ground-breaking event, it’s really more of a soil-planting,” said Levi Landis, GoggleWorks executive director. “These beds represent our commitment to community growth and the nurturing of a vibrant, inclusive, and creative space.”
A roster of invited dignitaries participated in the activities and espoused the significance of the GoggleWorks Art Park for the Reading community, including: City Council Chair Donna Reed, City Councilor O. Chris Miller, County Commissioner Michael S. Rivera, First Energy Foundation Rep. Marisela Fuster, Mayor Eddie Moran, Our City Reading E.D.of Economic Development Scott Gruber, PA Senator Judith Schwank, PA House Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz and PA House Rep. Manny Guzman.
Landis said the construction is planned for completion in 2024, when GoggleWorks will begin planning regular programming in the outdoor venue including performances, First Fridays, and other community events.
DoubleTree by Hilton Reading has begun catering and food programs at GoggleWorks, but the partners have not announced an opening date for the restaurant.
Landis said the GoggleWorks parking lot would remain open, but visitors will use its doors on Washington St. as the main entrance during construction. GoggleWorks visitors, which number 250,000 annually, are advised to visit the GoggleWorks website or call ahead for details on accessing the campus during construction.