Let me start by saying I expect this will be the first of many blogs I write over the coming years about the corner of Progress Avenue and Linglestown Road.
Yes, I’m referring to the town-center-style concept plan that Vartan Group Inc. has presented to Susquehanna Township.
On the surface, I’m excited about the creation of a little 58-acre town there at the corner with a blend of local and national retail. Maybe we’ll see a neighborhood brewery or two and a mix of new local eateries, plus some small office buildings and related service businesses.
Of course, you will have an array of housing options in the back, some large recreational spaces and that downtown walkability that doesn’t exist in many suburban areas. Obviously it can, if developers have the time and vision — not to mention the resources — to create that sense of place.
I’m one who fully believes H. Ralph Vartan, CEO of the company, will see this plan through and that he will listen to concerns that are going to be expressed by township officials and residents as this plan works through public hearings and the necessary approval process.
Yes, infrastructure is a major hurdle. He knows that. There is a lot of traffic out that way now. This will only add more, plus off-site improvements will likely be necessary.
What will it mean for tax revenue and how will it affect local services, the school district? What tax incentives will be proposed and how does that affect the community?
Who is going to want to live in a neighborhood like this? Will it be affordable for seniors, if a senior living campus is part of the final plan?
All of these are valid concerns and questions that will get addressed by the developer over the coming months. He’s ready. He’s been working on the plan for many months. But he also understands that changes are inevitable.
In the end, what is success at Progress and Linglestown? It’s uses that complement the community and provide public benefit. I think this concept does that through the design and public gathering spaces, plus the expanded shopping and employment opportunities.
The honest answer is that we probably won’t know if it’s been successful for a few decades. Full build-out and leasing or ownership of spaces is one thing, but are residents walking the streets in this neighborhood? Are others driving in and taking advantage of its offerings?
I guess we’ll find out.