Live, Work, Play? Developers Are Eyeing Mixed-use Centers for Bucks County...But Are They Attractive to Residents? | Newtown News of Interest |

What’s old is new again. Or at least that’s the case when building in Bucks County.


Developers eyeing projects in Bucks aren’t limiting their options. Municipalities throughout the county are seeing numerous proposals from builders to construct mixed-use developments that include anything from apartments and townhouses, to retail stores and recreational space all occupying the same tract.


These developments come in all shapes and sizes, from the three-building plan of 220 residential units and 10,760 square feet of retail on 7 acres at the former site of The Intelligencer building in Doylestown Borough to a proposal for 600 luxury apartments on 20 acres at the Oxford Valley Mall in Middletown. The developer of the mall proposal said the apartments will also draw retailers.


[Developer and civic designer Joe W. McGrath, of Joe W. McGrath Org LLC] said it is important to carve out spaces for smaller businesses like mom-and-pop shops since they tend to be more sustainable than big box stores in downtowns.


“You know what lasts? Pizza shops, barber shops — this is stuff we’ll be able to put in a walkable downtown,” he said. “We want all the amenities.”


In Lower Makefield, developers were successful in receiving approval from the township planning commission in September for a new overlay district on Stony Hill Road that could pave the way for a 100,000-square-foot Wegmans grocery store, 55,000 square feet of retail space, 200 apartments and other amenities.



Both proposals have been heavily criticized by residents who claim the plans will bring even more vehicles to the heavily trafficked road near Shady Brook Farm and the Newtown Bypass. [Read “Guest Opinion Re Prickett Run: ‘Do not bend over to accommodate zoning changes, overlay districts and special exceptions to allow developers to destroy the character of our community.’


One of Prickett Preserve’s developers, Vince DeLuca of DeLuca Homes, said similar developments have gained popularity in recent years because they help reduce suburban sprawl by cutting down on vehicle use. “These developments benefit local communities by generating more tax revenue due to higher land value and greater local income taxes.”


While they have their benefits, the most important part of building one of these developments is to make sure it’s attractive to residents, McGrath said.