Monday, February 12, 2007

Retail/Office development in Whitehall proposed to connect to rail trail

A Harleysville developer has proposed an office/retail project in Whitehall that he hopes will mesh with a section of the Ironton rail-to-trails running through the northern part of the township.

The developer, Ted Laskowski, president of 1st Patriot Realty, wants to build an 8-acre development of about 30-40 offices or retail businesses at MacArthur Road and Chestnut Street.

Located across the street from the Sheetz store, the complex would be half office and half retail, Laskowski said.

Laskowski said his company wants the development to serve as an ''oasis'' for people using that particular section of the Ironton trail, which runs through Whitehall and North Whitehall townships and Coplay.

''We have offered to build a little park area between two buildings and the little park would actually bring the trail up into the property and have a little resting area,'' he said.

Project attorney Blake Marles said that the plan is not to build a shopping mall like those found in Whitehall's southern end.

''This is very small, neighborhood-oriented retail,'' he said.

Businesses in the complex could include a dentist's office, hair salon, jewelry store, ice cream shop and restaurants. ''A bike shop would work great,'' Laskowski said.

Tom Gettings, director of the nonprofit Wildlands Conservancy, said that ''the inclusion of trails in all kinds of landscapes is a positive thing.''

''They connect our community in a way that you don't need motorized vehicles,'' he said. ''That's positive.''

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