The 12 acres of land behind the Free Library of Northampton Township and Council Rock Senior Citizens center may be getting a swanky upgrade in the near future.
During the Northampton Township board of supervisors meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23, Fieldstone Associates principal Art Corsini and architect Vic Barr shared a concept plan for a six-building, 180-unit upscale apartment complex as well as 3,400 square feet of commercial retail space.
Supervisor Barry Moore stressed that Fieldstone approached the township with the plan, and the presentation was simply to inform the public and receive feedback. No action was to be taken that night.
The buildings would be three stories with no elevator, and four stories with an elevator. Surface parking and private garages would be available, and the space would be pedestrian- and bike-friendly. All units would be one- or two-bedroom, ranging from 850 to 1,400 square feet and including cabinet units, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and wood-tone flooring. Rent would cost $1,700-$1,800 per month for a one-bedroom, and $1,950-$2,250 for a two-bedroom. Tenants must meet certain income requirements and pass a criminal background check to live in the community.
A central clubhouse, said Corsini, would be the hub of the community, encompassing a common gathering room; a complimentary coffee bar; private areas for business meetings; a game room with a pool table and foosball; full-service fitness center; mailroom and package area; resort-style pool and palm trees outside; and pet park.
Fieldstone currently operates similar complexes in 17 Pennsylvania and New Jersey communities, each aimed at welcoming a specific clientele.
“This will attract a resident demographic of young professionals and older people whose families have left the nest and are looking to downsize and don’t want the maintenance responsibilities of owning a home,” said Corsini, adding that the space isn’t designed for families with small children. “Our studies show these residents have high disposable incomes and typically support restaurants and retail businesses in the local community.”
Feedback is requested from residents to help the supervisors determine if the complex is a good fit. Corsini said the concept plan is flexible, and that Fieldstone wants to incorporate the vision of the municipality into the project.
“We realize something like this would be the first of its kind for Northampton,” said Moore.
Also during the meeting, the supervisors unanimously approved the expansion of the Old Richboro Schoolhouse, currently owned by Heath Dumack, of Dumack Engineering. Since the property was sold through court order, Dumack’s proposed additions had to go through a legal process called “amended stipulation,” and voted upon by the supervisors.
Dumack requested a 27,000-square-foot addition to the formerly vacant property, located at 1038 2nd Street Pike. This would consist of two levels as well as a basement and 67 parking spots. The space would be used as an office for other businesses (no retail), and no signage or lights would be permitted on the back of the building, which faces a residential neighborhood.
Supervisor Eileen Silver was pleased that Dumack is continuing to transform the property while maintaining its original facade. Dumack Engineering moved into the Old Schoolhouse about four years ago.
“When we walked in there the first time and you could almost fall right into the basement, I didn’t know how he was going to make it look,” said Silver. “But it is beautiful inside of the building.”
Over the past several weeks, Dumack held meetings with nearby residents who would be potentially impacted by the addition. It was agreed that trees would be planted behind the building to partially block it from view. Four air compressors in the rear will be elevated and shielded from view by a barrier, which will alleviate some of the sound.
Another unanimous approval authorized an application to the PennDOT Multimodal Transportation Fund Grant Program, requesting $3 million to construct a roundabout at 2nd Street Pike and Bustleton Pike to relieve traffic congestion. The total cost of the project is $3.5 million, and the township applied for the maximum award amount. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no matching-fund requirement.
“I know some people aren’t happy about this,” said Silver. “Don’t think of it as an old New Jersey circle. It is something new.”
Several announcements were made by the supervisors at the conclusion of the meeting. A Halloween event will take place in the Municipal Park on Saturday, Oct. 31, and include a scarecrow contest, trunk-decorating contest and trick-or-treat bags.
Additionally, the Free Library of Northampton Township is now open to the public on a limited schedule. Seniors and high-risk patrons can visit Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to noon; and the general public is welcome the same days, from 1 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, from 1 to 5 p.m. Masks must be worn properly at all times. If a patron cannot wear a mask, staff will accommodate their needs while they wait outside. Ten individuals are permitted inside at once for 30 minutes of general browsing; up to 14 people can use the computers at once for 60 minutes each. Curbside pickup will continue.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com