Lower Macungie planners learn of new businesses for existing shopping center

LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. - A 12,000-square-foot retail building that will house three stores is being planned on a vacant lot in the Trexlertown Shopping Center along Hamilton Boulevard, near the Lehigh County village of Trexlertown.

And much larger warehouses are being proposed in other parts of Lower Macungie Township.

All were reviewed by the township's Planning Commission Tuesday night.

The commission unanimously recommended preliminary plan approval for the new free-standing building in the shopping center.

It also recommended that township commissioners give preliminary/final approval for a 106,000-square foot warehouse in Lehigh Valley South Industrial Park, just north of the borough of Alburtis.

And it tabled plans for three large warehouses and a commercial building in David Jaindl's Spring Creek Properties subdivision off Spring Creek Road, also north of Alburtis.

The meeting was poorly attended and no one from the public asked any questions or comments about the projects.

New building at shopping center

During the discussion about the shopping center's new building, planner Maury Robert asked the question often on people's minds at planning commission meetings.

He asked the developers: "Would you like to disclose any of the occupants of the building?"

"We really have no signed leases at this point," said Robert Mastandrea, director of special operators for Cedar Realty Trust, which owns the shopping center.

But Mastandrea told planners the project is being "driven" by an unnamed credit union now located in the neighboring Trexler Mall shopping center.

He said that credit union wants a location where it can have a drive-thru and an ATM.

A People First Federal Credit Union is in Trexler Mall, which also is owned by Mastandrea's company.

A three-bay drive-thru lane will be along one side of the building, which Mastandrea indicated is where that banking facility will be located. "We fully expect this to happen."

He said moving the credit union out of Trexler Mall would allow the state liquor store in that shopping center to expand. "I'm not sure they will go for a premium store but that will be our desire," said Mastandrea.

He told planners that credit union would take up 4,000 of the new building's 12,000 square feet.

An unidentified restaurant with an outdoor eating area will be at the other end of the building. Developers declined to say how large it will be.

And they gave no hint about the third tenant for the center of the building, which could be the largest store in it.

Trexlertown Shopping Center is on the south side of Hamilton Boulevard.

The Upper Macungie/Lower Macungie boundary line cuts through the heart of the 3.25-acre vacant lot.

Atty. Kate Durso, who represented the developers, said they will be going before the Upper Macungie Planning Commission next week.

The proposed building site is just north of the Giant grocery store in the shopping center and east of Giant's gas station.

An Applebee's restaurant is just north of the property, between it and Hamilton Boulevard.

A roadway linking the Trexlertown and Trexler Mall shopping centers is on the north side of the lot.

Walkways will link the new building with the grocery store as well as Trexler Mall, said Sara Pandl, the township's planning director.

Warehouse approved

The warehouse given a unanimous recommendation for preliminary/final approval by the planning commission is at 2834 Schoeneck Road, in Lehigh Valley South Industrial Park.

That recommendation includes both land development and subdivision plans.

A 269,971-square-foot warehouse already stands on the 29-acre property, which will be subdivided.

The proposed 106,080-square-foot warehouse will be built on 9.5 acres just south of the existing warehouse after that property is subdivided.

The property owner was identified as IIT Valley Crossings DC, LLC.

Robert advised the developers that township commissioners might want equipment installed at the warehouse to remove snow and ice from tractor-trailers before they leave the property.

"We're told it can't be required but could be encouraged," said Durso, who also represented the warehouse developers.

"I'd say strongly encouraged," said township engineer Bill Erdman.

"It's a good idea," agreed Pandl.

Other warehouses discussed

Plans for three larger warehouses and a commercial building were reviewed but tabled by planners.

"The plan is looking good," commented Irvin Keister, chairman of the planning commission, to the developers, who were advocating approval.

All four buildings will be owned by Liberty Property Trust.

They will be constructed on the north side of Congdon Hill Drive, a 38-foot-wide private road that will continue west from the future intersection of Spring Creek Road and Sauerkraut Lane.

A 650,000-square-foot warehouse is proposed on a 77-acre lot in the Jaindl subdivision and a 1.2-million square foot warehouse is proposed on an adjoining 77-acre lot.

Both are called "high cube" warehouses, although they will be less than 45 feet high.

Another 1.1-million square foot warehouse will be built on an adjoining 70-acre lot.

The three warehouses will dwarf a 10,000-square foot office building planned to stand in front of them on eight acres along Congdon Hill Drive.

Liberty Property Trust offices will be in that building, said Keister after the meeting.

Liberty intends to own and manage the warehouses.

Each warehouse could house more than one tenant, but no tenants have been identified yet, according to a letter to the planning commission from Pandl.

A multi-use path will be installed along one side of that tree-lined road, apparently for employees who might walk or ride bicycles to work, as those who would walk from a LANTA bus stop that also is being considered.

LANTA is not willing to do it unless it has enough riders, said a spokesman for the developers, who added that, because the buildings do not yet have tenants, the number of people who will work in them is not yet known.

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