Now that two essential state and federal permits are approved and in hand, construction could finally move forward on a $40 million upscale mixed-use project in Upper Saucon Township that first earned township approval in 2011.
John J. Blair, president of Blair Custom Homes Inc. of Lower Saucon Township, wants to build Old Saucon, a residential and retail community on vacant farmland off Route 378. He received a highway occupancy permit from the state Department of Transportation and a federal Environmental Protection Agency permit and is set to start construction.
However, what’s holding him up is a disagreement among the partners who own the property.
“Right now, the partners are not in agreement about how to move forward,” Blair said. “There are a lot of different decisions that need to be made. All we have to do is sign a developer’s agreement. There is a philosophical difference of opinion.”
The partnership is comprised of Landis Mill Holdings LLC and Green Acres Lane, which is under Blair’s ownership. Each entity owns 50 percent of the property.
The residential portion would be a gated community of 80 houses, including 54 single-family homes and 26 twin-family homes for 55 and older, Blair said.
Housing prices would be $300,000 to $600,000. Blair Custom Homes will build the houses.
“We hired four to five carpenters to prepare for the work,” Blair said. “The economy is taking off better in terms of home construction. It’s like night and day compared to four years ago.”
The project includes 15 acres of retail at the intersection of Center Valley Parkway and Route 378. This portion includes commercial uses; the 10 pad sites could be a drug store, bank, restaurant, fresh food market or office buildings, Blair said.
He said he does not want to build big-box stores and wants to create a commercial/retail vibe that’s connected to the residential portion, yet be open to the public and not a destination type shopping center.
The total project covers 73 acres, with 66 acres in Upper Saucon and seven in Lower Saucon.
The development would include a home association for buyers wishing to own their lots. Fees paid to the association will fund the maintenance and improvements to the lots and private roads.
Blair estimated total residential construction costs, including land enhancements, to be about $40 million and that the project would take several years.
The development would offer 50 percent open space and include a pedestrian and bike path.
Adjacent to Saucon Valley Country Club, the development would include public water, sewer and natural gas.