Drivers traveling along the 5th Street Highway in Muhlenberg Township are likely noticing new construction, from the relocation of Taco Bell to a brand new Burger King.
The development, according to township officials, is all part of a long-term, comprehensive plan to revitalize the corridor, including its vacant commercial sites and industrial properties.
"We're hoping by bringing this back, it makes a more vibrant community, a more energized community, a place where people want to live and certainly work, and help the township's overall health," said Steve Landes, the township supervisor.
According to Landes, it’s an initiative that's been years in the making, based upon a federally funded economic development study. Over the next 10 to 20 years, he said the township will utilize the study to provide opportunities for growth and redevelopment.
"It's a very large undertaking. Describing the plan is really a 'vision' … there will still be much more sites or proposals to come forward," he said.
For instance, Landes said township officials are looking to redevelop the NGK Metals Corporation site, although such work would likely require environmental cleanup.
"There are some discussions going on between the company and the developer that are promising, more promising than we've seen in the last 10 to 15 years, and we're certainly excited about that," Landes said.
On Tuesday, the plan was met with contention among local residents.
"I think it's a good idea," said Noel Arce, of Muhlenberg Township."There's a lot of stuff here, a lot of its obsolete. There's not really much to actually bring people here."
But others, like Erin Gallagher, question the worth of some revitalization concepts, for instance a new township building.
For close to $4 million, the township is renovating a building on George Street and planning to move its operations there by the end of the summer.
"I wish they would be spending money on other things besides that. I think that's unnecessary right now."
But according to Landes, this overall plan is for the greater good of the community. He said the township's new location demonstrates its commitment to reenergizing the corridor.
"[The building] sits on the corridor and makes the statement [that] we are serious about improving this place."