County executive calls Hamilton Crossings meeting

Thomas Muller, developers, still want TIF for project

LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. - Lehigh County Executive Thomas Muller,  an outspoken supporter of tax increment financing for the delayed Hamilton Crossings shopping center in Lower Macungie Township, has called a public meeting to re-introduce the project and its developers' request for a TIF.

Last June, Lehigh County commissioners voted 6-3 against a tax increment financing plan for the $140-million shopping center, which many assumed would kill the project.

All the county commissioners will be invited to the public meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 3 at Moyer Hall on the Muhlenberg College campus, 2400 Chew Street in Allentown.

The meeting amounts to a public relations offensive by the county executive and the developers to try to get at least a few county commissioners to change their votes.

"The public will have the opportunity to meet the developers, who will present their vision for the Hamilton Crossings retail center," explained Muller in a news release.  "The public will have an opportunity to give input and ask questions."

The Hamilton Crossings center, proposed for land on either side of Krocks Road in Lower Macungie, would contain the Lehigh Valley's first Costco, plus a Target and Whole Foods store.

The developers for the upscale project have been stalled by the county commissioners' refusal to approve a TIF.

Despite the delay, developers have gone forward with negotiations with proposed tenants.

At least three of the Lower Macungie commissioners support the project, although the township has not yet voted on a TIF.

If Lehigh County commissioners reconsider and approve a TIF for the project, Lower Macungie commissioners will be the last to formally vote on that TIF.

The financing plan needed the support of the county, township and East Penn School District to succeed.

East Penn School Board voted 6-2 for the TIF last May.

If a TIF is approved for Hamilton Crossings, the county, township and school district will give up 50 percent of increased property taxes generated by the shopping center for 20 years.

According to co-lead developer Jeremy Fogel: "We continue to need TIF funding to close the project's financial gap and allow the project to be financed. We have continued working to address concerns posed by county commissioners, in regards to obtaining their support and participation in the TIF plan."

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Allentown, PA 18102





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