QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - Quakertown Borough Council has taken the first step in turning the downtown into a bustling area for shoppers.
Despite concerns from resident's, council voted 6-0 Monday to transfer the triangle property at Third and Broad streets to the Quakertown General Authority to sell and develop.
Council President L. James Roberts abstained from the vote due to a potential conflict of interest.
David Halliday of Village Centre Properties, Blooming Glen, Bucks County, provided council and a packed council chambers with an overview of the project.
Halliday said his company was initially attracted to Quakertown because of its potential for growth.
"We feel that Quakertown has the right initiative in place and a lot of fundamentals," he said. "We feel that Quakertown can create this core, classic downtown that people will want to come to."
Specifically, the $6 million 30,000 square foot, three story building will include a pub and restaurant on the first floor, executive suites on the second floor and conventional office space on the third floor.
Halliday said parking will include angle and parallel parking. He said his company continues to work on resolving potential issues as they relate to parking.
"Parking is a universal issue for all of us," he said.
He also said his company is willing to utilize some of its own funds to market the development
Resident Sandy Shelly said she is not convinced possible issues with traffic will be resolved.
"My concern is traffic affecting business there," she said.
Ralph Moyer III, owner of Moyer's Shoes, 316 W. Broad St, also expressed concerns over parking.
"We need that parking," he said. "There are other locations in the borough that the borough owns that it could use."
Mike Clisham said while Quakertown should develop the downtown area, he is not certain the current plan is the right course for the borough.
"I don't know in my mind if this is the right project," he said.
Scott Soost, owner of Tana Kaya Boutique, 322 W. Broad St., said he was disappointed council put together the development plan with little or no input from the residents.
"Overall, I'm really put off by the amount of transparency by the changes going on downtown," he said.
Resident Ralph Moyer Jr. echoed Soost's comments, asking council members if they consulted with area business owners regarding the proposed development.
"How can you be on borough council and not talk to people," he said. "You're not representing us."
Councilman Edward Scholl said council has spoken with borough businesses regarding the development.
"We have heard from many merchants downtown who are in favor of this," he said.
"I think there is a balance here," added council Vice President Donald Rosenberger. "There are some who will be impacted and some who will be benefited."
Roberts said the project moving forward is incumbent upon PennDOT approving the submitted traffic plan.
According to Halliday, development will not begin until after the Christmas holiday. The structure, he said, should be erected within six to eight weeks after the project begins.
"I can really see this pushing the downtown and making it better," said Councilman Daniel Williams.
The development will be paid for by way of a Gateway grant in the amount of $2 million and Village Centre Properties generating the remaining $4 million for the project.
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