The TIF program will give the developers up to $7 million, nearly five percent of the estimated total project cost.
TIF money will be used only to help pay $11 million in transportation improvements, $4 million in storm water improvements and nearly $1 million in utility upgrades.
Harrison estimated only 24 percent of those improvements will benefit Hamilton Crossings, while 76 percent will benefit everyone.
For example, he said storm water improvements will help a residential neighborhood south of the Route 222 bypass that now experiences “severe” flooding problems.
And he said road improvements will benefit everyone who drives on Route 222, Hamilton Boulevard and Krocks Road.
Marles explained most of the improvements will be made “for the public, apart from the development, because what was put there previously wasn’t adequate.” He said government in the past failed, because it didn’t plan properly for everything that would happen around the infrastructure it originally put in place.
As an example, Marles said the state’s design for the Route 222 bypass was inadequate because “it wasn’t going to address the needs of the public for very long. What this TIF is really doing is picking up a piece of the public cost that wasn’t picked up.”
New Hamilton Crossings details
New details about Hamilton Crossings emerged at Wednesday’s meeting.
Harrison said the anchor Costco and Target stores will be the magnets that will attract other tenants. “Without them, we wouldn’t have a project.”
He said he is not allowed to name the unidentified high-end food store also coming to Hamilton Crossings, “but when we do, I think you’ll see it’s maybe the most powerful magnet of all.” He added: “We can’t talk about some of the other retailers, but you would recognize them.”
“This shopping center has elements that make it a true asset to the township and I would hope to the county,” said Harrison.
He said Costco has been looking for a location in the Lehigh Valley for five or six years. “They have determined this is the only location they would be interested in occupying in the Lehigh Valley,” he said. “And they intend this location to serve the entire Lehigh Valley.”
He said attributes that attracted Costco are the proximity to Route 222 and Lower Macungie’s demographics. He said it was important to Costco that 21 percent of the township’s adult population has just not college degrees, but master’s degrees or PhDs.
Harrison said the Target along Cedar Crest Boulevard in South Whitehall will not be replaced by the Hamilton Crossings Target. He said that existing Target is very successful and Target management thinks having both stores will give the company a more successful presence in the Lehigh Valley.
Developers promise their project will create 495 construction jobs when work begins later this summer and 920 permanent jobs when Hamilton Crossings is completed in the autumn of 2014.
The Hamilton Crossings TIF was created by the Industrial Development Authority with some input from a TIF committee consisted of two representatives from the township, school board and county.
Both Commissioners Vic Mazziotti and Dougherty, the county’s representatives, have said those TIF meetings should have been held in public.
“These were not our meetings,” said Mazziotti. “They were the IDA’s meetings. While we were willing to open this up to the public, the IDA determined they were not willing to do that.” He said committee members could attempt to influence the plan, but it was the IDA’s plan.