Residents of Richboro and its surrounding neighborhoods will soon have a brand new space to shop for groceries.
During a recent Northampton Township supervisors meeting, the board approved the preliminary and final land development plan for a Giant, to be located at 1025 2nd Street Pike as an anchor within Richboro Plaza.
Developers intend to have the store up and running by December 2021.
Present on the Zoom call was Dan Hughes, founder of Metro Commercial, which owns Richboro Plaza; and Mike Kaplin, a lawyer representing Metro.
“I remember this shopping center from 30, 40 years ago,” said Kaplin. “I’m very proud to represent Dan Hughes and his team. Dan is a first-rate professional in the real estate business and has been trying to redevelop this. Giant came along at the right time, and Giant is going to enable us to really redo this center and bring it way, way up to speed.”
The Giant will encompass 50,340 square feet, and take over the space of next door businesses, including the former Murray’s Market. Additionally, more than three dozen extra parking spots will be created at the rear of the building.
This was the single aspect that caused much discord among board members. Supervisor Barry Moore asked if these spots would be dedicated to employees, or if customers would be forced to use them.
“I’d hate to have people taking shopping carts and trying to navigate from the Giant store all the way around,” he said, adding that if customers did park in the back, there should be a lit pedestrian walkway around the building.
Supervisors chairman Adam Selisker agreed that there should be safe passage, but held a more optimistic viewpoint.
“I actually hope that we do have an issue with a lot of people parking back there because that means the lot is full and the businesses are thriving, which is really what we’re trying to accomplish anyway. I think it’s a good problem to have. I don’t want to make it into a bad thing, I just want it to be a safe thing,” he explained. “Whether there will or will not be people who have to walk around the lot is to be determined in the future. I think it is our responsibility to look at this holistically at the whole thing. I recognize it’s an older facility, but there is an improvement happening.”
Board members unanimously voted to support the project and expressed their excitement.
“This shopping center will be something that people from other areas of Bucks County will come down to do their shopping at,” said Eileen Silver.
Next on the agenda, the supervisors unanimously approved a bond parameter ordinance that would allow construction of two new fire stations – one in Richboro, the other in Holland. According to supervisor Frank O’Donnell, both of the current buildings were erected in the 1960s to accommodate an all-volunteer fire company for a township of fewer than 7,000 residents.
“Today, our township is close to 40,000 residents and the fire company is a mix of volunteer and full-time firefighters,” he said.
The current, dated buildings will be demolished and replaced with brand new facilities, which are said to have a minimum 40-year life expectancy. Total cost is expected to be about $27 million, which O’Donnell said includes design, civil engineering, permitting and site improvements.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, things got a bit heated when a resident expressed concern that the stations could result in higher taxes and a deeper township debt. The resident added that the fire stations will cost more than the new police station, and asked whether the current buildings could simply be renovated rather than replaced.
“There is no place in those stations to safely hold our fire company, and we have been very, very lucky that we have not had to do this in the past,” said Silver. “We don’t pay a lot of money for the excellent service that our fire company does. And if we get these bonds and our debt is such that we have to raise taxes in order to pay for it, I think most of our residents will not be upset about paying for the excellent service that we get from the fire company.”
“People in Northampton, they expect good fire service,” added Kim Rose. “To me, that is our big priority.”
Also, the board adopted the 2021 budget, which has no increase in taxes.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org