Hamilton Crossings Becoming Reality After More Than Six Years In the Works
By Colin McEvoy on May 8, 2015
After more than six years in the making, Hamilton Crossings is finally becoming a reality.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held this week at the $140 million retail complex project in Lower Macungie Township, which will include a Target, Whole Foods and Costco Wholesale Club, among other stores.
The 565,000-square-foot project, located on 63 acres between Hamilton Blvd. and the Route 222 Bypass at Krocks Road, will create 495 construction jobs and 920 retail jobs – 619 of which will be full-time – and produce $1.2 million in new property tax revenue.
“It’s so exciting to develop this high a caliber project at this point in time in our region,” said Ken Goldenberg, president, founder and CEO of the Goldenberg Group, which is developing Hamilton Crossings along with TCH Development.
“I’d be surprised if there is another retail project like this being built anywhere in the country,” Goldenberg said. “And with the jobs and taxes it will generate, this is such a win-win-win for everybody, and a real testament to the tenacity of everyone involved, particularly the tenants, our lenders, Lower Macungie Township, the Commonwealth and our development team.”
About 200 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony on May 7. The project, which is expected to open in July 2016, was made possible due to a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, which the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. (LVEDC) helped establish and administer through the Lehigh County Industrial Development Authority (LCIDA).
“These are projects that create a lot of jobs, and it’s significant because of the way our area is growing that these top-end retailers want to be here,” Don Cunningham, LVEDC president and CEO, said at the groundbreaking. “This project will not only make this area of Lower Macungie better and give people a chance to shop in their own neighborhood, but it also improves the quality and what we can sell about the entire Lehigh Valley.”
Hamilton Crossings will have the first Whole Foods and Costco in the Lehigh Valley, and will include other stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nordstrom Rack, Old Navy, Rally House, Five Below, Designer Shoe Warehouse, Pier 1 Imports and ULTA Cosmetics.
The TIF, which lasts 20 years, diverts 50 percent of newly-generated tax revenues to pay down debt service for the development. Base taxes that were already being paid before the TIF continue to be paid throughout the life of the district.
LVEDC provides staffing assistance to LCIDA, which is the issuer and of the TIF. The development authority also engaged LVEDC via contract to serve as TIF administrator, providing technical services to support the TIF financing. Additionally, LCIDA is a Pennsylvania Industrial Site Reuse Program (ISRP) grantee for the purposes of remediating mine wash on the site.
The Hamilton Crossings project includes a number of public infrastructure investments, including significant regional roadway improvements, the implementation of the region’s first adaptive traffic control system that will make adjustments based on real-time traffic conditions, as well as a regional stormwater detention facility to help address flooding conditions.
Hamilton Crossings will also include a two-and-a-half miles of bicycle and walking paths, public gathering areas, connections to the historical lob cabin site on the adjacent Wescosville Park, and a rain garden in the park that will absorb rainwater and runoff, while also serving as an educational experience and providing extensive landscaping and overlooks.
The development of Hamilton Crossings faced both political and physical challenges. The property had been the site of open-pit iron mines since the 1870s, and by World War I was perforated from end-to-end with iron mining pits, some as deep as 28 feet. They were filled with highly-saturated mine wash, an industrial byproduct from the iron mining with the consistency of peanut butter, which long made it impossible to build upon.
“So the land lay barren, generating virtually no property tax and employing no one for more than 100 years,” said Tim Harrison, owner of TCH Development. “Developers happened along from time to time. Every one of them failed. The conventional wisdom was this site was simply not developable.”
Honored guests at the groundbreaking included Cunningham, state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller, Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners President Ryan Conrad, and Whole Foods Markets Executive Coordinator David Pinkney. Harrison and Jeremy Fogel, Goldenberg’s main principal behind the project, also spoke.
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