Costco Plans Detailed

Developers looking to build Hamilton Crossings in Lower Macungie -- which will feature the area's first Costco -- are seeking some zoning variances from the township.

If all goes well, the developers of Hamilton Crossings in Lower Macungie hope to break ground a year from now on the 63-acre shopping center that will include the area's first Costco

Last week, representatives of The Goldenberg Group based in Blue Bell showed Lower Macungie Township commissioners several renderings of their plans for the shopping center proposed for land between Hamilton Boulevard and the Route 222 Bypass. Krocks Road runs through the middle of it.

Most of the land is open space owned by the Catholic Diocese of Allentown. The developers are seeking several variances to township zoning laws that deal with regulations about such aspects as the height of fencing and the size of buffers.

While showing the renderings, Jeremy Fogel, executive vice president of The Goldenberg Group, said Hamilton Crossings will have 2 1/2 miles of walking and biking paths, as well as gathering spots with park benches and tables.

"We are looking to provide the township with a central gathering place for the community," Fogel said. 

The shopping center is expected to have about 25 restaurants and stores, with Costco and Target as anchors.  

Fogel says that the development project is contingent on getting govenment assistance known as Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, to pay for the development's infrastructure and remediation of the property from waste created by iron mining.

He's asking that a portion of the $1.4 million the shopping center is expected to generate in taxes go toward paying for that mining remediation of the property and infrastructure. Under TIF, those taxes would still be collected from the shopping center but part of them would help pay the bonds that fund the construction of the shopping center.

Lower Macungie doesn't have a property tax; it gets its funding from earned income tax and real estate transfer taxes, according to Cassandra Williams, township director of finance. 

The developers are also seeking TIF help from East Penn School District and Lehigh County, both of which rely on property taxes for revenue. 

The request for variances from the township zoning ordinance is scheduled to be heard by the township Zoning Hearing Board on Nov. 27.   

for real November 19, 2012 at 12:57 PM
A wise plan. Refreshing to see business moving into Lower Mac. which will create jobs and create revenue. A win for taxpayers.
Ron Beitler November 19, 2012 at 04:42 PM
"Friends LMT" (A local smart growth advocacy group) is supportive of this project. Mainly due to the appropriate location and beefy design standards championed by the developer. This is the appropriate location in our twp. to build out a big box commercial corridor. By doing so here, residents will see continued return on our investment made the bypass. The by-pass allows regional shoppers access to the corridor without straining local roads. Additionally, this will provide much needed tax base for the school district without contributing to enrollment issues. Also the developer seems to be very community oriented. While we question comparisons to "The Promenade" or that this will be a lifestyle center per say (more like a beefed up strip center with bells and whistles, not necessarily a bad thing in the right location... and this is the right location).. it is a good project and with a developer who is interested in working together with the township to ensure resident concerns are addressed. Clearly with the officials we have elected now it's moreso on conscientious developers to build responsibly then our township encouraging it or better yet requiring it.... But here we have a situation where the developer is willing to and it's a wonderful refreshing change. And of course everyone is excited about the costco! (The first in not only the valley but the region) To stay updated on development news in the township visit and 'like' - www.facebook.com/friendslmt
KAW2088 November 19, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Woo-hoo! About time we get some good stores in that area! That seems like a no-brainer!
Candace Clayton Ryan November 19, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Awesome! LOVE it. When will it be done :)
Mariella Savidge November 19, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Developers are estimating that Costco will be done in the fall of 2014. We'll be there, shopping our little hearts out, before you know it!
D. Wag November 19, 2012 at 10:07 PM
...and best of all, it's not being developed by Jaindl !!
Chief Gore November 20, 2012 at 04:51 AM
another burden for the PA State Police, long overdue for Lower Macungie to step up and provide a local municipal police department and ease the burden that they cause to the Pennsylvania State Police on a daily basis.
rob November 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I also look forward to the Costco. I like Costco better than BJ's or Sam's but King of Prussia is just too far away. I question whether or not a Target here is too close to the one on Cedar Crest north of 22, though. Would love to see some new restaurants that aren't anywhere in the Valley, like Famous Dave's, Hardee's, Maggiano's, etc.
Mark Spengler November 20, 2012 at 09:02 PM
PA state police doing a great job in Lower Mac. All indications show they are happy to be here and doing their job well.
An interested bystander November 20, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I'll ask again - what hit is the Diocese taking on the purchase price? If the developer needs a TIF to make it work, then it is subpar land. It is not the taxpayer's responsibility to put money in the Diocese's pocket.
Michael D Siegel November 20, 2012 at 10:47 PM
When I served on the Lower Mac PC, this plan came in under my watch. The developer took many of my comments and incorporated them into a living center, not just a usual strip shopping center. This was critical because of the undesirable stigma left by the other strip shopping centers in the township. The fountains, living stormwater basins, plantings, ornamental fencing,clock towers etc together with a walkable transportation route through the center makes it the showcase of shopping centers in the valley. I wish Jaindl would consider this living center in his visions but as it stands now his visions are not quite in line with current smart growth policies.
for real November 20, 2012 at 11:06 PM
The Diocese owns the property so of course they will be compensated for the sale. The TIF will go towards remediation of the environmental issues. Show me a developer willing to do this without a TIF and I'll support them. In the meantime we need to welcome economic development in Lower Mac. We are up to our eyeballs in housing housing with probably more on the way. We need a balance. This is a solid plan and if a TIF gets it done than so be it.
Kevin Lewis November 20, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Will it be built with local construction tradesman whos local taxes are being used or will it be built like the Promenade with out of state contractors that hired illegal workers and took our taxes and ran amid months of protest? As a community we need to make sure this doesn't happen again
Bernadette November 21, 2012 at 04:32 AM
We soooo need this. I have been wanting something like this since I moved here12 years ago. It is certainly about time. Maybe a White Castle and a TJ Maxx would be nice too.
Carol November 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM
The center will be a nice addition, but I still do not agree with giving tax advantages to businesses, particularly those that will compete with existing taxpaying businesses. Most companies that get these tax breaks never deliver what they promise anyway.
for real November 21, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Think of it this way - Without allowing some future (some being the key word) tax revenues to go towards fixing the environmental problems this land will not be developed. This twsp. needs economic development to create jobs, enhance the tax base, and create a balance between housing develpment and business. If it stays as is prime develpment land will be wasted totally.
Ron Beitler November 21, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Don't forget balance between WAREHOUSES and commercial. More commercial esp high end retail and restaurant... LESS Warehouses!
Ron Beitler November 21, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I agree Michael. This is a good developer. Very nice for a change we usually see the predatory kind here in LMT... I wouldnt go so far as to call this a lifestyle center in the same vein as the promenade but it is a nice project. It's more a beefed up strip center. But a very very nice beefed up strip center. I do wish they would go even further. Since there is public money involved here, I think it's perfectly appropriate for residents to be greedy.
Ron Beitler November 21, 2012 at 03:29 PM
@Interested - I have no problem with the TIF as a creative mechanism. Same thing goes for LERTA's or other deferment mechanisms. These aren't taking away a dime of current tax revenue. Remember though, this project is also applying for millions in grants. I do have an issue with that philosophically. Esp if the grants are intended for real brownfield redevelopment. I have issues with some of the "stretches" this project is using in terms of definition... Blight? I don't think so.... (the LMT planning commission deemed the property blighted so the property owner could apply for certain grants) Redevelopment project? Because mining happened a half century ago? (or longer?).... I don't think so. I have issues with this kind of finagling the system. The TIF though? I'm ok with this. But I also do see your point about the diocese getting market value for a flawed piece of property. In a fair world the price should be adjusted. I hope they ask this question at the county level.
Ron Beitler November 21, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Philosophically you can make the case LMT needs to pay it's own way. Ok. But please stop characterizing (not just you many do this) this as "burdening" the state police. The state police are actively lobbying to keep providing services to the township. As part of the ongoing study of options the state police are making the case to maintain status quo. Yes you can make the argument this isn't fair. But to say that 1. the PSP is not providing adequate service (we have 2 officers on duty in the township 24 hours a day 7 days a week) or 2. that we are burdening the PSP is just plain wrong. It's incorrect information. The PSP wants to be here. Whether it's right and level of service are two seperate issues.
Bernardo November 21, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Traffic, congestion, traffic, congestion, traffic, congestion. Old 222 (Hamilton Blvd.) right back to perpetual gridlock.
Carl W November 26, 2012 at 05:05 AM
As Costco comes, good-bye WalMart ! Hallelujah !!!!!!!!!!!
Carl W November 26, 2012 at 05:11 AM
AND....don't forget the doubling of taxes, crime, and tripling of the traffic. Most of all, we'll be getting rid of much more of these stupid natural land, get more pieces of artificial landscaping, added traffic lights, eventually leaving WalMart a good place for a tractor-trailer depot.
Carl W November 26, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Careful - your own police dept, even with the 3 men, will cost you more than the troopers. (You just paid $3,000,000,000 to put fire trucks in a garage & bar).
Carl W November 26, 2012 at 05:17 AM
The h(eck) with the Diocese. We'll have traffic & congestion, and can buy God at Costco !!!
Carl W November 26, 2012 at 05:20 AM
We'll just put in more bypasses & maybe even cloverleafs! Get rid of some of the homes & more 6-8 lanes. Not only will we get to follow, at night we'll get to listen to all the trucks & cars !!!
Carl W November 26, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Carl W 12:20 am on Monday, November 26, 2012 We'll just put in more bypasses & maybe even cloverleafs! Get rid of some of the homes & more 6-8 lanes. Not only will we get to follow, at night we'll get to listen to all the trucks & cars !!!
careless fills December 01, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Two points of information about Costco that have made the news recently, once yesterday and the other two months ago and amplified yesterday: 1) Costco has just announced a large, one-time cash dividend of retained earnings in order to get the money out to investors in 2012 under current tax rates, instead of in later years when dividend taxes are scheduled to more than double under the fiscal cliff. 1.1) This raises the question of why should LC and ESPD taxpayers subsidize this company that has the money to invest, but chooses at the same time to instead to uncapitalize itself? This capital will most likely be hoarded in banks by Costco's shareholders, since they think its better to have it out of the company (and the economy). So much for stimulus and Quantitative Easing. 2) Jim Senegal, the co-founder and former CEO of Costco spoke to the main assembly at the Democrat convention in September. And just recently, Joe Biden infamously attended the grand opening of a Costco in Maryland. 2.1) Those connexions are now apparent and out in the open, but what good does that do for the rest of us? What should LC and EPSD (not to mention LMT, which by the way has no property tax to subsidize this and no municipal police force to patrol it) be thinking about this? Sounds like everyone will be subsidizing LMT, a Republican stronghold! How ironic.
William deMauriac December 26, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Why on earth must we even entertain the idea of giving our tax dollars to finance this project. It is inherently wrong to use tax revenue to build retail stores. This is a gross injustice to the taxpayers. There is no reason theses developers need our money, only to fatten there pockets. They have the money, the only reason they are asking because they know without public outcry they will get it. This has been going on for many years and that is the core reason to all our budget shortfalls. Residents need to be vocal and must be informed and allowed in these meetings. After all, it is our money they want to give away.


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