New Hilltown shopping center proposed

Published: Monday, March 30, 2009
By Megan Blank
A new shopping center is coming to Hilltown Township.
Wally Rosenthal, owner of the Hilltown Pub, and Bob Showalter, president of Showalter & Associates, have presented a plan to the Hilltown supervisors for a new shopping center called the Hilltown Promenade, to be built at the intersection of Swartley Road and Route 309.
Showalter presented two concepts, both calling for a village-style shopping center with restaurants, shops, a hotel and a 17,500-square-foot building for the township’s fire department with a banquet hall.
The second concept also included a small age-restricted residential space.
“We’re seeking your direction to move forward,” Rosenthal, who owns the 40-acre property, said to the board. “We’d be grateful for any input.”
With the village style, “The idea is to live, play and work in one spot,” Showalter said, adding that they looked all over the country to find shopping centers to compare with their idea of a “lifestyle center.”
Comparisons included Valley Square in Warrington and The Promenade Shops in Saucon Valley.
Features of the village-style shopping center include architectural details on the two-story buildings, textured sidewalks and unified lighting and signage.
“It took a lot of time to integrate everything together to make it pleasant,” Showalter said.
Parking at the centers was also located on the outer perimeter of the buildings, which are clustered near each other, with walking paths down the middle of the property.
The proposed residential space, Showalter said, would include three three-story units with parking underneath the buildings.
Some rezoning would be required for the promenade, as the rear property is currently zoned for rural residential.
The supervisors had mixed feelings, but were positive overall.
Supervisor Jack McIlhinney was concerned about parking and traffic flow, and thought Rosenthal and Showalter should forget the residential, and concentrate only on retail.
“My mind is open,” Supervisor Richard Manfredi said.
When asked her opinion, Chairman Barbara Salvadore said, “It’s very square. Ones I’ve liked are twisty and turny. But you do need to go ahead with the land development process.”
Regardless, the supervisors recommended Rosenthal and Showalter meet with the township planner and engineer for a staff review, and move ahead with the land development procedures.
The township also gave final approval for a Penn Foundation subdivision on Diamond Street.
The property is split between Hilltown and West Rockhill.
The West Rockhill side will contain 15 townhouses, and the Hilltown side will contain one group home and one single home. Hilltown Township Water and Sewer Authority will provide the sewer works and Sellersville Borough will provide the water.
At the supervisors’ request, Penn Foundation CEO John Goshow said he could put in the agreement that the land on the Hilltown side would not be developed further.