Shillington Architect to Share Loft Life with Berks
By David A. Kostival
Reading Eagle Correspondent
David M. Kleckner to renovate Shillington industrial building
Three years ago, architect David M. Kleckner undertook a $750,000 renovation project. He converted one of the former Fairy Silk Mill buildings on Catherine Street in Shillington into company offices and a loft for his family's home.
Since that time, Kleckner has received favorable comments on the look of his New York City-style loft.
Now Kleckner, principal in Kleckner Laucks Architects, is taking on a new project to share this style of living with the rest of Berks County. Kleckner purchased another industrial building at 31 S. Sterley St., Shillington - just two blocks from his office and loft - with the intention of converting its five floors into trendy loft condominiums. The building, which dates to the 1920s, also was once part of the Fairy Silk Mill complex. The location also has housed a swimwear manufacturing business and most recently Lakeland Reflective Apparel.
But Kleckner has a vision to retrofit the former industrial building with living spaces. "In my mind, this is a great old shell of a building," Kleckner said. "I want to bring a new style of living to Berks County."
At this stage in development, new owners will be able to work with Kleckner - or any architect - to custom-design the space. "Someone will be able to buy a shell, almost as is," he explained. "The owner of each loft will get one garage and one outdoor parking space. Then the ideal thing will be for the owner to work with me to custom-design the loft and the room divisions." Kleckner said he plans to make general electrical, sewer, water and gas improvements to the building.
"I love the idea of saving old buildings and bringing something totally new to Berks County," Kleckner said. He said he hopes to have all of the building's five floors converted into loft condominiums, complete with new owners, by the end of this year. Then, Kleckner said, his goal is to focus on other industrial buildings, preferably in Shillington, to create more unique living spaces.
However, his overall vision is even broader.
Kleckner believes the loft condominiums can be a stepping stone to transforming the community. "I am working closely with the borough of Shillington and the Shillington Business Association to try and create a more pedestrian-friendly shopping area along West Lancaster Avenue," Kleckner said. "I'm trying to do a full-circle thing for Shillington."
Kleckner hopes that when business owners begin to see positive changes, they too will get on board. "By osmosis, we are hoping that business owners and property owners along the avenue will begin to make improvements to their buildings when they see what is being done," he said. Kleckner believes a revamped, trendy shopping area in Shillington will be a draw for people who want to live in the lofts.
"People really like the open feel to lofts," Kleckner said. "The size and the space has a nice contemporary feel."