Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Whole Foods, Costco project in doubt as Lehigh County rejects financing deal

The excitement generated last month from the announcement that Whole Foods was planning to join Costco and Target in the Goldenberg Group's proposed development in Lower Macungie, PA has waned considerably since Lehigh County commissioners rejected tax financing for the project last week.

The tax increment financing (TIF) proposal would have allowed up to $7 million in tax dollars generated by the shopping center to be used to finance the project. Prior to the commissioners vote, the developers had said they would walk away from the project if the TIF was not approved.

After the vote, however, the developers of the project indicated that they may not be giving up. According to an article in The Morning Call, options to save Hamilton Crossings, a 63-acre site between Hamilton Blvd. and the Route 222 bypass, include the following:


  • The Goldenberg Group and their partner, Tim Harrison, could move forward without the tax financing.
  • The school district could increase the amount of shopping center tax proceeds it would allow to be used to cover the county's share, which would most likely require a new round of TIF meetings.
  • The TIF could be revived if one of the six county commissioners who voted against it calls for a reconsideration of the project.
All three of these options are considered long shots. County Commissioner Percy Dougherty, who voted for the TIF, is worried that the developers may try to "strip the project to force it in" by backing away from some of the off-site improvements previously agreed to and cutting back on the aesthetic quality of the center, which originally was modeled after the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley.

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