Cedarwood Properties LLC received final approval in June from the township to build a 8,594-square-foot building on a more than one-acre site along Sullivan Trail at Town Center Boulevard. The developer this past winter demolished a defunct Rita’s Italian Ice, an adjacent two-story home, and Aqua Pool & Spa Supply Inc. for the project.
Approved plans for the building initially called for a 1,994-square-foot Starbucks, two 1,680-square-foot restaurants, and a 3,240-square-foot retail store. The Starbucks was approved for a drive-through. Since Sullivan Trail is governed by the state and not the township, state transportation officials issued a Highway Occupancy permit on July 23, said Sean Brown, PennDOT’s safety press officer.
John O’Neil, chairman of the township’s board of supervisors, told lehighvalleylive.com Monday he wasn’t sure what the holdup was on construction. Township officials haven’t been in touch with the developer since the early summer approvals.
Sean Leonard, founding member at N3 Real Estate & Development and managing member of Cedarwood Properties, told lehighvalleylive.com factors amid the coronavirus pandemic have delayed work on the site. This includes increased construction costs and the overall lack of demand for retail space, he said.
The result has led the developer to revise initial plans to include three tenants in two separate buildings versus four tenants in a single building, Leonard said.
Cedarwood Properties LLC now is proposing to build a 3,200-square-foot building with a neighboring, free-standing building next to that site. The developer plans to submit the revised proposal to the township by the end of the year, Leonard said.
The 3,200-square-foot building would solely house the Starbucks and Jersey Mike’s Subs. He declined to provide any additional details about the freestanding building proposal and couldn’t say if that tenant would be retail or dining.
Nothing with the freestanding building is a done deal since plans are just a proposal, Leonard said. The developer remains hopeful work can begin with shovels going into the ground sometime this year, he added.
Initial plans showed the Starbucks would have about six employees working at a single time. There would be seating for 10 people and 11 parking spaces. At the time, plans showed at least 44 other parking spaces for other tenants. It’s unclear if the parking lot would be that large under the revised proposal.
A Starbucks spokeswoman said the Forks Township location plans to open by spring 2022, employing a total of 25-30 workers.
The site of the Starbucks and Jersey Mike’s building is directly in front of an existing McDonald’s on one side of Town Center Boulevard. The strip mall also includes a Hawaii Poke Bowl and Dollar General. On the other side there’s a Giant Food Stores, a Subway, Italian restaurant and other retailers.
There are multiple Starbucks locations across the region, including in Bethlehem Township; Bethlehem, Lehigh County; Hanover Township, Lehigh County; the Allentown area; Lower Macungie Township; Upper Saucon Township; and in Pohatcong Township. There is a Starbucks in the Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall, however, it’s currently listed as being temporarily closed.
Jersey Mike’s has at least four other area locations. The shops span Lower Nazareth Township; Whitehall Township; South Whitehall Township; and the Upper Macungie Township area.
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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at [email protected].