Charles Chrin Companies has finally broken ground on the heavily anticipated $40 million interchange off Route 33 – between the interchanges with routes 191 and 248.
Gov. Tom Corbett served as the keynote speaker for the event on Jan. 31 at Porsche Logistics, near the construction site in Palmer Township. The land surrounding the roadway is owned by Palmer Township developer Charles Chrin.
The company said the development of the surrounding land should create 5,000 jobs and generate $16 million in annual tax revenue.
While 800 acres of land eyed for development are in Palmer Township, the project touches parts of seven municipalities, including Tatamy, Forks Township, Nazareth and Stockertown.
"This 800-acre site and new interchange provides the best opportunity for economic growth and new jobs in Northampton County since the opening up of the former Bethlehem Steel site in South Bethlehem," said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.
"This is a multi-faceted location that has extraordinary potential for a multitude of uses ranging from manufacturing and production to logistics and office development."
Though Cunningham said it was too early in the process to know exactly who the end users would be, he said light manufacturing, professional office tenants and food and beverage processing facilities would be appropriate businesses. The land also offers space for retail.
"New locations in the Lehigh Valley are in demand right now, and the Chrin property is perfectly situated to add jobs and new businesses to the Lehigh Valley," said Cunningham. "It's really unlimited, the type of uses that can go there."
DCT Industrial, an owner of light industrial and bulk distribution properties, is among the first businesses to locate a site in the new development.
The project recently earned approval from Palmer Township, said David Colver, chairman of the township's board of supervisors.
The site where DCT would build a facility is at the corner of Hollo and Van Buren roads, not far from where the new interchange would be built.
The other business, which was not named, will be located at the northwest corner of Main Street, said Colver.
The company said the first phase of the new development is approved for 1.6 million square feet of build-out, and will create in excess of 1,000 jobs.
Porsche Logistics, located in the Chrin Commerce Centre, opened in 2009 and serves as a parts distribution, technical training and development facility.
Now, more than 300 acres of land in the Chrin Commerce Centre is under contract for future development.
Construction for the interchange project is expected to begin in April or May and last about 18 months. The entire bridge on Main Street over Route 33 will be replaced and the roadway will be expanded from two lanes to six lanes with a pedestrian walkway.
The commonwealth is contributing $3.5 million in funding for the project. Once the project is complete, Chrin will donate 23 acres of land occupied by this infrastructure to the state Department of Transportation.
"This may be the most impressive public/private partnership I've ever seen," said Congressman Charlie Dent, one of several officials who attended the ceremony.
Gov. Corbett noted, "We are growing here in Pennsylvania and we can grow more if we have infrastructure in place to do that. We have a duty to grow that infrastructure so commerce can grow."
Corbett described the Chrin project as a prime example of private investment that's good for the state.