Developers propose new Starbucks in Bethlehem Twp. shopping center | Lehigh Valley Regional News


BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. – Starbucks may be on track to make its way to a Bethlehem Township shopping center.

The township’s planning commission reviewed the developer’s preliminary plan for the first time Monday night. Understanding this was the initial proposal, members of the planning commission unanimously voted to table the plan as is, pointing to many outstanding issues in need of more clarification.

Mike Preston, senior engineer of Ott Consulting Inc., and Joseph Posh, of Posh Properties Real Estate Services — on behalf of Starbucks — proposed a new 2,225-square-foot commercial building within the Easton Commons Shopping Center at 2920 Easton Ave., which was recently renamed The Shops at Bethlehem.

The proposed Starbucks would be located on a 21.6-acre parcel of undeveloped vacant area on the northeast top corner of the lot. This is adjacent to 3022 Easton Ave., where the Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners approved the development of 220 apartments, a complex known as the Thirty22 Garden Apartments, on the site of the former Bethlehem Drive-In in March.

The proposed site of the Starbucks is within the planning commercial zoning district, according to Preston. Access to the site would be provided by the existing shopping center driveway, and the site would include a drive-thru and spaces for parking. It would utilize public water and sewer services, and the stormwater would be managed by an on-site subsurface detention basin, along with a proposed spray irrigation.

Planner Mark Grandinetti immediately addressed a connectivity issue in regard to sidewalks linking the new Thirty22 Garden Apartments — to be developed by David Ronca, partner at Wind-Drift Real Estate — to the newly proposed Starbucks. Additional members of the planning commission expressed agreement for the sidewalks, suggesting that many renters at the apartment complex might walk to and from to get their coffee.

Preston said they need to “coordinate with Thirty22” about connecting sidewalks, as the two developers have only talked utilities at this stage. While Preston understood the need for connection, he said the initial thought on connectivity was the site would be mostly used for drive-thru customers.

Bethlehem Township Engineer Anthony Tallarida further stated a sidewalk connection would make sense, as the site of the proposed Starbucks “seems like a landlocked parcel.”

In addition, Tallarida noted the Thirty22 apartment complex was granted conditional approval with the request for an easement. This would put it up to the existing building that currently houses the fitness center in the Shops at Bethlehem. While Tallarida has not seen the easement yet, he confirmed it is required and is on the radar, but has yet to be submitted.

“The coordination between the two developments make sense,” Tallarida said.

“I’m happy to connect the two,” Posh responded.

Posh also mentioned he noticed a grade where the easement is required, suggesting the connection would have to be handled properly, with the potential need for steps.

Additional topics of concern were the streetscape enhancements for the proposed Starbucks site, and the irrigation plan for the winter.

Planner Barry Roth expressed the desire for continuity between the new Starbucks and the entire rest of the property in regard to the streetscape, and Tallarida noted further discussion was needed on water overflow during the colder months, as spray irrigation is turned off during the winter season.

The developer’s next steps include more in-depth discussions with the township engineer, zoning department and the solicitor, to allow Posh and his team to fully develop their next submission.


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