Hamilton Crossings shopping center developers address issues

Tax incremental funding was at the top of the list.

Author: , WFMZ.com Reporter, RKraft@wfmz.com
Published: Feb 11 2014 10:03:34 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 12 2014 11:53:47 AM EST

Developers of a proposed shopping center lay out their plans


A dozen misconceptions about the controversial Hamilton Crossings shopping center project were addressed by developers Tim Harrison and Jeremy Fogel during a community meeting at Muhlenberg College Tuesday night.

The long-delayed $140 million project, which will include Costco, Target and Whole Foods stores as its anchors, is planned on 63 acres in Lower Macungie Township.

The meeting was called by Lehigh County Executive Thomas Muller, who hopes to persuade the county’s commissioners to approve a tax increment financing plan—TIF—for the project, although they rejected that plan by a vote of 6-3 last June.

All nine county commissioners were invited to the Hamilton Crossings meeting, but none of them attended.

“I’m sorry some of them didn’t come, but I’m not going to read anything into it,” said the county executive after the meeting.

While Muller said there is a new board of county commissioners since that vote against the TIF in June, there is only one new person among the nine commissioners, Democrat Geoff Brace.

“If the interest is there,” Muller announced he plans to take the Hamilton Crossings TIF back to the county commissioners for reconsideration “probably early next month.”

Throughout the meeting, Fogel and Harrison repeatedly said what they’ve been saying all along, that without an approved TIF to help pay for the project, Hamilton Crossings won’t be built.

“Our own research shows us that the vast majority of the residents of Lehigh County want this project,” declared Harrison. “They’re excited about these tenants coming. They’re excited about the jobs, the economic benefits, the town center we’re offering the township. They want to see it happen.”

In answer to a resident’s question about the validity of that claim, Harrison said a scientific poll of 500 “carefully selected” county residents was done by Harrisburg-based Susquehanna Research. He promised to post those findings on the Hamilton Crossings Facebook page on Wednesday.

Muller said the developers’ Power Point presentation given at the meeting will be posted on the county’s web site as soon as Wednesday.

One revelation during the meeting is that no towering pylon signs will be erected at Hamilton Crossings if it is built.

A bigger revelation was that Harrison said Hamilton Crossings will not be exactly like the upscale Promenade shopping center in Upper Saucon Township.

“This is a big box shopping center,” he said. “It’s got a Costco with 150,000 square feet and a Target with 135,000 square feet. You don’t see stores of that size at the Promenade. We can’t accommodate that kind of layout.”

Fogel later added that, with larger stores, Hamilton Crossings also needs larger parking lots.

But Harrison stressed Hamilton Crossings will have quality stores, walking trails, bike lanes, public gathering areas, high levels of landscaping and enhanced architecture aimed at giving it more variety than any run-of-the-mill shopping center.

He said artists’ renderings depicting sections of the shopping center that he projected on two screens are not fictional—“this is what we’re going to do.” He added turning those renderings into reality has been a required condition of township approvals that the shopping center has received so far.

Harrison said it will be a first-class, aesthetically-pleasing shopping center, not a Walmart or like the shopping center facing Route 22 off Airport Road just north of Allentown.

Hamilton Crossings 101

The first half of the nearly two-hour meeting was like a Hamilton Crossings 101 course, being taught by Harrison and Fogel to more than 100 people.

The developers gave a detailed overview of Hamilton Crossings, including its economic benefits and challenges.

One of the biggest challenges is mine wash “muck” from 19th-century iron ore mining that is in holes up to 28 feet deep on the property, which is on both sides of Krocks Road between Route 222 and Hamilton Boulevard.

Harrison said 50,000 dump truck loads of that mine wash must be removed from the ground, treated and dried, then returned to the old iron pits. He said until that is done, no buildings or even parking lots can be built on the site.

He said that remediation is adding $12.5 million to the project cost, but TIF money will not be used for that part of the project.



Legal issues to keep Peterson off the field

Running back indicted on felony child abuse charges

Author: By Ed Payne CNN
Published: Sep 17 2014 02:16:41 AM EDT   Updated:  1 HR. AGO
Adrian Peterson

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

(CNN) -

Running back Adrian Peterson will not play for the Minnesota Vikings until his legal issues are resolved, the team said early Wednesday.

It's a reversal of course for the Vikings. The team had earlier said that Peterson, who is facing a child abuse charge, would practice this week and could play in Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

In a statement early Wednesday, the team said Peterson has been placed on the NFL's Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list, which will require him to "remain away from all team activities."

"While we were trying to make a balanced decision (Monday), after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian," said a statement from owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. "We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right."

Peterson is considered one of the best running backs in the NFL -- if not the best. His absence was probably felt during the Vikings' 30-7 loss to the Patriots last Sunday.

In 2011, he agreed to a lucrative contract, which NFL.com reported would be worth $100 million over a 7-year period.

Turn for the worse

But his fortunes have taken a turn for the worse since his indictment last week on a felony charge of causing bodily injury to his son.

On Tuesday, he lost one of his most significant endorsement deals when Castrol, a major producer of motor oil, pulled out.

Castrol used Peterson in commercials for its Edge performance oil product and on social media. Many recent social media posts of his likeness had been pulled down, and the commercials were no longer available on YouTube. (His other major sponsor, Nike, said late last week it would stand by its athlete for the time being.)

One of the team's sponsors, the Radisson hotel chain, announced Monday night that it was suspending its "limited sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings while we evaluate the facts and circumstances."

Also, the website for his All Day Foundation was taken off line after the charities represented on the site were getting "harassing" calls from gossip sites, his philanthropic adviser, Bruce Richmond, said.

"We took the website off line because the charities that Adrian supports were getting calls from the media and were getting harassed by the media," Richmond told CNN. "I spoke to one communication director saying she had received about a dozen calls today from the same gossip site."

Legal process

Following his indictment, Peterson turned himself in to East Texas authorities Saturday and was released on a $15,000 bond.

The next step is a preliminary court hearing on October 8.

According to Texas law, people can be convicted of injury to a child if they cause bodily or mental injury "intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence" or cause such harm by omission. The crime is punishable by up to two years in a state jail and a $1,000 fine.

Authorities haven't divulged the details of what led to the charge. But Peterson's lawyer said the "charged conduct involves using a switch to spank his son" -- explaining that his client did so while doling out discipline "much like "he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas."

Rusty Hardin said "Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury."

Peterson defended himself on Monday, saying he is "not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser."

Other allegations

The developments came as CNN affilaite KHOU reported this week that Peterson allegedly abused another one of his children -- a 4-year-old son.

Sources told KHOU that the mother of the child filed a complaint with Child Protective Services in Texas because she alleged that Peterson beat the child, while visiting his father at his Houston-area home.

According to the report, text messages between Peterson and the boy's mother show that Peterson admitted disciplining the child, but he claims the child hit his head on the car seat in the process.

No charges were ever filed, according to KHOU.


On this Day

  • Civil War, Battle of Antietam painting

    Library of Congress

    On this day: September 17

    The U.S. Constitution is signed, the Civil War sees the bloodiest battle in American history, the prototype space shuttle Enterprise is unveiled, and the Camp David Accords bring peace between Egypt and Israel, all on this day.

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