BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. — Starbucks may be on its way to a mall in Bethlehem Township.
The township’s planning commission reviewed the developer’s preliminary plan for the first time on Monday evening. Understanding that this was the original proposal, members of the planning commission voted unanimously to table the plan as is, pointing out many outstanding issues requiring further clarification.
Mike Preston, principal engineer of Ott Consulting Inc., and Joseph Posh, of Posh Properties Real Estate Services – on behalf of Starbucks – have proposed a new 2,225 square foot commercial building in the Easton Commons Mall at 2920 Easton Ave. , which was recently rebranded as The Shops at Bethlehem.
The proposed Starbucks would be located on a vacant, undeveloped 21.6-acre parcel in the upper northeast corner of the lot. It is adjacent to 3022 Easton Ave., whose Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners approved the development of 220 apartments, a complex known as Thirty22 Garden Apartments, on the site of the former Bethlehem Drive-In in March .
The Starbucks is within the commercial planning zoning district, according to Preston. Access to the site would be via the mall’s existing driveway, and the site would include drive-thru and parking spaces. It would use public water and sewer services, and storm water would be managed by an on-site underground retention pond, along with proposed spray irrigation.
Planner Mark Grandinetti immediately addressed a connectivity issue regarding the sidewalks linking the new Thirty22 Garden Apartments – which will be developed by Wind-Drift Real Estate partner David Ronca – to the newly proposed Starbucks. Other members of the planning commission expressed their approval for the pavements, suggesting that many tenants of the apartment complex could walk to and fro for their coffee.
Preston said they had to “coordinate with Thirty22” to connect sidewalks, as the two developers have only talked about utilities at this point. While Preston understood the need for connectivity, he said the initial thinking on connectivity was that the site would be used primarily for drive-thru customers.
Bethlehem Township Engineer Anthony Tallarida further said a sidewalk connection would make sense, as the proposed Starbucks site “appears to be a landlocked parcel”.
Additionally, Tallarida noted that the Thirty22 apartment complex was granted conditional approval with the easement application. This would put it on par with the existing building that currently houses the fitness center in Bethlehem Shops. Although Tallarida has yet to see the bondage, he confirmed that it was needed and was on the radar, but had not yet been submitted.
“The coordination between the two developments makes sense,” Tallarida said.
“I’m happy to connect the two,” Posh replied.
Posh also mentioned that he noticed a level where easement is required, suggesting the connection should be handled properly, with the potential need for steps.
Other areas of concern were streetscape improvements for the proposed Starbucks site and the winter irrigation plan.
Planner Barry Roth expressed a desire for continuity between the new Starbucks and the rest of the property as a whole regarding the streetscape, and Tallarida noted that further discussion was needed on the water overflow. during the colder months, as spray irrigation is disabled during the winter season. .
The developer’s next steps include further discussions with the township engineer, zoning department and attorney, to allow Posh and his team to fully develop their next submission.