From a major redevelopment near the Oxford Valley Mall to new openings in a Bensalem shopping plaza, big and small changes alike are forthcoming in the Lower Bucks County business community.
Restaurants and retail coming to Oxford Valley Mall area
During its Sept. 19 meeting, the Middletown Township board of supervisors unanimously approved preliminary and final land development plans for 130 Middletown Blvd. and 2340 Lincoln Highway.
Present to share details on the project, situated at the site of the former Bally Total Fitness, were attorney Ed Murphy and engineer Justin Geonnotti, of Dynamic Engineering. According to Murphy, the empty space was in such “poor condition” that it was demolished. It will be replaced with two side-by-side buildings, one a 5,920-square-foot retail store, the other a 5,600-square-foot restaurant.
Mattress Warehouse of Oxford Valley will remain open, with the 60,345-square-foot building next door set to be split between a retail store and restaurant, the latter of which has drive-thru use.
Sidewalks will be installed to enhance pedestrian safety and connectivity between this area and the mall. There will also be 175 parking spaces total. Pending final approvals from outside agencies, which Murphy and Geonnotti expect to be obtained early next year, construction would begin in the middle of 2023.
“This project was originally conceived in 2019 and then got embargoed because of COVID,” said Murphy. “But in the last year, 14 months, we’ve been back actively pursuing the various permits and approvals that we need for the project.”
When asked by chairman Mike Ksiazek if tenants have been secured, Murphy responded, “There are multiple tenants that have expressed interest in all the different retail locations. None of them have reached fruition yet where we could comment publicly on them.”
Dunkin’ drive-thru receives backlash
Also during the Sept. 19 Middletown Township board of supervisors meeting, preliminary and final land development was unanimously granted to the franchisee of the Dunkin’, located on Old Lincoln Highway and West Maple Avenue, to transform the 1,200-square-foot space at 627 Old Lincoln Highway into a drive-thru.
According to David Shafkowitz, attorney for the developer, Dunkin’ gave several of its franchisees an option — either install a drive-thru or close down the store.
“He wants to keep this store viable. He wants to keep this store open,” said Shafkowitz.
Following lengthy discussions with the Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board, a plan was formed. There will be a three-lane drive-thru — one lane is for kiosk ordering, the second is for mobile order pick-ups and the third is to bypass and circulate out of the site. No changes will be made to the existing Dunkin’ store, with customers still able to park in one of 14 spaces and order inside if they prefer.
A deceleration lane will be installed on Maple Avenue for drivers getting off the road and into the drive-thru queue. Sidewalks were also proposed for added safety.
Residents expressed concern over an increase in traffic and accidents. One woman who lives on Maple Avenue said, “I think it’s a dangerous corner to have that all added in.” Shafkowitz explained how Dunkin’ has a 90- to 100-second window in which they must serve a drive-thru customer. He doesn’t expect there to be more than 12 cars in line at any given time. If there’s more, the deceleration lane would help with the overflow.
Middletown traffic engineer Phil Wursta said, “We don’t anticipate a queue and we certainly don’t want to have a queue in the deceleration lane that’s going to be built. That’s to get people off the road. Could be used for a queue if there’s an extra car or two.”
Still, if cars were to start spilling into the deceleration lane, he believes incoming drive-thru customers would be smart enough to come back a little later and not add to the congestion.
“Personally, I think I’m satisfied that the plan to manage traffic coming into the site and going through the drive-thru is reasonable,” said Ksiazek.
New additions coming to Centre Plaza
Levin Management Corporation announced that two new lease commitments at Centre Plaza, located on Galloway Road in Bensalem, include Ryan Wagner’s Martial Arts & Fitness and Great Indian Kitchen, both 3,400 square feet.
Ryan Wagner’s Martial Arts & Fitness is relocating from Bristol Pike. The studio teaches students of all ages and skill levels the traditional Korean martial arts of Tang Soo Do and Sin Moo Hapkido.
“Ryan Wagner’s is a well-established martial arts studio with an outstanding reputation,” said Fred Younkin, LMC’s leasing representative. “It will bring an added dimension to the retail experience at Centre Plaza and draw students from nine nearby school districts — an advantage for the entire tenant base.”
Great Indian Kitchen is a new business venture for its owners, who are experienced business operators. The casual Middle Eastern restaurant will provide both dine-in and catering services.
“Great Indian Kitchen is a fantastic fit for this neighborhood,” said Younkin. “The restaurant adds another quality dining option to Centre Plaza, we look forward to its opening.”
In recent months, Centre Plaza also saw the opening of Slim’s Irish Pub. LMC also secured a 1,700-square-foot lease with Bensalem Nutrition (opening soon). This followed previous commitments by Kathy’s School of Dance and barbershop MichKutz.
“Great things are happening at Centre Plaza,” said Younkin.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com