Quakertown officials faced opposition from downtown business owners April 2 over the potential development of a three-story office structure at the triangle parking lot.
Dave Halliday, a developer for Village Centre Properties, has expressed an interest in the parcel of land located in the heart of downtown Quakertown referred to as Triangle Park. Halliday plans to construct a three-story office building within the parking lot and highlight the water feature already installed. The price tag for the project is reportedly $6 million, $2 million of which was awarded to the borough through a state Gateway grant. The remaining $4 million would be shouldered by the developer.
Officials' decision to sell the parking lot has raised concerns among local business owners about how fewer parking spaces will affect their livelihoods – especially as officials also consider possible traffic pattern changes for West Broad and Branch streets.
Several business owners took to the podium at council's meeting to express their fears about losing customers with the construction and inconvenient parking.
Scott Soost, owner of Tana Kaya Boutique on Broad Street, said, "My business cannot weather months of construction. You are messing with my livelihood. If this project goes through I'll be forced to move my business out of town."
While officials admit business owners will experience construction woes, Councilman Ed School said, "We didn't do this on a whim. This developer will essentially be bringing jobs to the borough. That is the key to this decision. These will be good, white-collar jobs."
Council Vice President Don Rosenberger added, "I'm not sure doing nothing is the right thing to do, either."
Ralph Moyer, owner of Moyer's Shoes on Broad Street said, "I echo what Scott (Soost) said. Our shoe store has been here a very long time and I'm upset that this hasn't been addressed with business owners sooner."
Doug Mohr, owner of Lion Around Books on Broad Street added, "I would not have opened my store without that parking lot. The loss of the lot will not allow for unloading of books for my store. I don't know how my business will survive the six to 18 months of construction of the building or the adjustment of the parking situation."
Officials agreed that prior to moving ahead with the transfer of the property to the Quakertown General Authority, stakeholders need to meet with the developer to further discuss concerns and issues regarding the entire project. The authority is not controlled by the borough and must follow proper legal and business channels in the sale.
Under a property transfer contract discussed by officials previously, any building constructed on the site must contain a minimum of three floors and not exceed 42 feet in height; the facade must be made of natural, non-manmade products; and the property's use must follow the ordinance requirements of the borough.
Officials encourage stakeholders and borough residents to attend special meetings scheduled for April 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. in borough hall.
Council President Jim Roberts also announced the next borough council meeting will be changed to Monday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. to reopen the discussion and potentially move forward to the next stage of the project.