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Quakertown business owners want council to reconsider developing triangle property

By Mark Reccek, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 03 2014 05:58:07 AM CDT
Downtown Quakertown

Downtown Quakertown

QUAKERTOWN, Pa. -

Quakertown Borough business owners are not happy with a proposed new development that may grace the downtown area in the future.

Borough council discussed preliminary plans Wednesday for the potential development of a three-story structure to be used for retail, commercial and rental space at the triangle property at Third and Broad streets.

Total cost for the development is estimated at $6 million. The borough was recently approved for a state Gateway grant in the amount of $2 million.

The developer, Village Centre Properties, Blooming Glen, Bucks County, would be responsible for generating the remaining $4 million for the project.

Although the development could bring in as many as 60 jobs, local business owners said a new development will adversely affect their profit and customer base.

Scott Soost, owner of Tana Kaya Boutique, 322 W. Broad St., said council put together the plan with little or no input from downtown merchants. He said traffic and construction will lead to the potential demise of his business.

"The businesses downtown will take a big hit with traffic," he said. "If this project moves forward, I'll have no choice but to move my business out of town."

"I'm offended also that the downtown businesses were not asked about this," added Ralph Moyer, owner of Moyer's Shoes, 316 W. Broad St.

Council Vice President Donald E. Rosenberger said he has put a considerable amount of thought into the prospect of developing the site.

"I'm just not looking to do something," he said. "I'm not sure not doing something is helping the downtown."

Doug Mohr, owner of Lion Around Books, 302 W. Broad St., echoed Soost's concerns. He said he relies on the parking lot, where the structure is set to be built, for customer parking.

"I would have never opened that store if that parking lot was not there," he said. "I'm ambivalent whether this is a good idea or bad idea."

Councilman David R. Erwin said he wants to know more about the project before making a final decision.

"There's a lot of questions yet," he said. "There's no concept of what's going to be there except a three-story building."

Councilman Edward Scholl said the development will spur business in the downtown area..

"The part of this that was the key is jobs," he said.

Resident Steve Biddle asked how the proposed development may affect the integrity of historical structures downtown, such as the Free Press Building.

Council unanimously agreed to forward an agreement of sale for the property to the Quakertown Borough Authority so the authority's attorney can review the document.

Council will reconvene 7:30 p.m. April 21 in council chambers to vote on the agreement of sale.

A meeting is tentatively scheduled April 9 and 10 in council chambers to allow borough business owners and council to ask the developer questions.

The time is yet to be determined.