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Costco a step closer in Lower Macungie

By , - Last modified: March 12, 2014 at 12:09 PM

The Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission recommended for approval all but one request for the Hamilton Crossings shopping center that is set to bring a Costco, Target and Whole Foods to the area.

At Tuesday night's planning commission meeting, four of the five requests were recommended for approval for the proposed site, off Krocks Road between Route 222 and Hamilton Boulevard. Township commissioners get the final say on approval of the project.

Recommended for approval are two requests to adjust boundary lines between Opperman Mobile Home Park and the site property and a request to consolidate a subdivided lot owned by the Allentown Catholic Diocese. The fourth recommendation for approval is for a stand-alone restaurant pad on the southwest part of the site.

Planners tabled the fifth request – for the northwest and east areas of the complex – until April.

"What I hear from community and elected officials is that we need more retail spaces and diversity to serve the people who live and move here," said Sara Pandl, the township's director of planning and community development.

Officials said Goldenberg Group checked the site boundaries and learned some mobile homes at the Opperman Mobile Home Park fell within the boundary lines of Goldenberg's property. Goldenberg and Opperman traded land so that the mobile homes did not have to be moved. That necessitated two requests for boundary adjustments.

For the project, Goldenberg is buying land north of the Route 222 bypass from the Allentown Catholic Diocese. Several ponds will be built to handle stormwater from the project. In addition, 52 acres of the land will be for potential future commercial use. The planning commission also recommended for approval consolidation of the land, which is subdivided.

Finally, the commission recommended a small parcel of the southwest portion of the project site – land that will be developed for restaurant use.

The commission tabled a fifth request involving the northwest and east portion of the property that is divided by Krocks Road, which is where the main shopping center will be built. Portions of the proposal were not complete, and commissioners could vote on the request in April.

"I think most people are in favor of the project," said Carl Best, zoning officer for Lower Macungie Township. "As long as they follow the requirements."

Goldenberg also has been dealing with Lehigh County board of commissioners since last summer, trying to obtain a tax increment financing plan to help fund the $140 million needed for the project.

"We need the TIF to make the project work," said Jeremy Fogel, executive vice president of Goldenberg Group.

The TIF plan would allow Goldenberg to divert a portion of the new tax revenue on its property over the next 20 years to help with construction costs of the project, with the remainder of the new tax revenue going to Lehigh County, Lower Macungie Township and East Penn School District. The school district was the first to opt in on the TIF, and according to township officials, Lower Macungie also is in support of it. The county has not approved the TIF.

"The Lehigh County executive and the administration support this project whole-heartedly," Frank Kane, director of community and economic development for Lehigh County, said earlier. "We are just waiting on the approval of the board of [county] commissioners."

According to Fogel, if Lehigh County commissioners and Lower Macungie Township opt in on the TIF plan, construction on the project could begin by summer.

"They [Goldenberg] want to get final planning approvals from the township before they go back to the county commissioners again with the TIF," Best said.

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Jennifer Glose

Jennifer Glose

Reporter Jennifer Glose covers health care, Berks County and other topics. She can be reached at jenniferg@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 111. Follow her on Twitter @jenniferg_LVB and read her blog, “Networking,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/networking-blog.

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