Southeastern PA

Quakertown files for third economic development grant extension

QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - Quakertown Borough officials, on the verge of losing a $2 million state grant aimed at local economic development, have agreed to file a request for extension during Wednesday night's council meeting.

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant, which was set to expire Wednesday without extension, requires the borough to notify the state’s Office of the Budget whether they wanted to continue participate in the program.

The extension gives the borough six more months to move on with plans on the redevelopment of Triangle Park, located along Broad Street between Third and Fourth streets.

Under the RACP grant, the borough would receive $2 million toward the project headed by the Village Centre Properties as 301 Broad Street Partners LP.

The downtown property, which the Quakertown General Authority had sold to developer David Halliday of Village Centre Properties in 2014 for $250 thousand, is currently used as a parking lot and is adjacent to a small triangle-shaped park.

In addition, officials voted unanimously to place conditions on Halliday to force him to move on with the Triangle Park project. They said the $6 million land development project has stalled for three years and nothing has been done since.

Neither Halliday nor a representative from his firm were present during the Wednesday night meeting.

In 2014, Halliday initially presented borough officials with a lucrative plan to construct a 30,000-square-foot, three-story building with the first floor used for shopping and dining, executive suites on the second floor and conventional office space on the third floor.

After having trouble selling the idea and coming up with the needed finances, officials said Halliday amended the plans and changed the building concept from three to two stories. The change also reduces the number of promised new jobs to fewer than 100.

“To date, [the developer] has not been able to get financing for that building. One of the things that we would like is to keep that grant because, if possible, we would like to transfer that grant to another project,” Councilwoman Lisa Gaier said.

Gaier said the Triangle Project has been an uncertainty for business owners and the borough for years. Now, officials want a construction timeline or the property back.

Borough Manager Scott McElree said that prior to reaching out to the Budget Office for extension, he’s been able to negotiate with Halliday’s firm to accept the agreement, which places several stipulations on the developer in order to propel the project further.

According to the copy of the agreement, Quakertown Borough requires that 301 Broad Street Partners LP provide a financing term sheet within 60 days, detailing how it plans to finance the project, a financing commitment letter from a recognized lending institution, and proof the developer meets all of the RACP requirements.

If any one of the outlined conditions aren’t met, McElree said it is required that the developer revert the property back to the borough for a full refund.

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