DeLorenzo's Withdraws Application for Newtown Location

According to a letter sent Monday from DeLorenzo’s attorney, the famous pizzeria has “elected to abandon the project.

DeLorzeno’s Tomato Pies has withdrawn its application for a location in Newtown Township. 

According to a letter sent Monday from DeLorenzo’s attorney Don Marshall to the township, the famous pizzeria has “elected to abandon the project.”

DeLorenzo’s is withdrawing both its conditional use application and zoning hearing board application for a 4,500 square-foot restaurant on Newtown-Yardley Road, at the site of the former Newtown Veterinary Hospital. 

“My client has determined that the feasibility of the project is in question and because of the tremendous financial commitment that must be made to proceed, my client has elected to abandon the project,” Marshall wrote in his letter to the township. 

De Lorenzo’s was seeking zoning permission to construct a restaurant in the Office/Light Industrial zone. An eating place is a permitted use by condition in that zoning area. In December, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors voted not to oppose that application in front of the Zoning Hearing Board.

In addition to conditional use approval, variances for parking and buffers were also needed.

De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies are famous throughout the region. The pizzeria, which first opened in Trenton in 1947, last year closed its restaurant in the city’s Chambersburg section. 

“I would love to see DeLorenzo’s come here and I hope they find another property,” Newtown Township Supervisor Jen Dix told Patch.  Dix said she was not aware if the pizzeria had already closed on the Newtown Yardley Road property.

Spencer Field January 14, 2014 at 03:43 PM
Very disappointing. Hope they find another location. But really, how many Pizza/Italian Restaurants can this area support?
bryan dowd January 14, 2014 at 05:36 PM
Typical Mindset from Newtown!!!
Rob Ciervo January 14, 2014 at 07:17 PM
Otis that is actually incorrect. The property in question is not allowed to have a restaurant use on it. Restaurant uses are not allowed in the office/light industrial district along the Newtown Bypass nor Newtown-Yardley Road. This was done intentionally to not have all of that valuable land developed as quick food uses. You have to think long term when you are looking at making big changes to the zoning.
The Illuminati January 14, 2014 at 07:46 PM
Glad to hear that those jobs and tax revenue will be heading to another municipality. Why would we want that in Newtown?
Rob Ciervo January 14, 2014 at 08:25 PM
If we are going to have a discussion about tax revenue let's do it on the facts first. Right now that property is generating the same amount in property taxes as it did as a Vet hospital. The assessment is the same. But what we are losing is the good amount of earned income tax for the township that the property generated with medical professionals with very good salaries working there. The zoning in place which has deemed that this portion of the township was to be developed with industrial, light industrial, office and medical uses is the reason the Newtown Business Commons currently generates millions of dollars in earned income tax for the township and is directly the reason why our township property taxes are only about $96 a year per household. So sticking to the current zoning has been an economic boon for Newtown Township taxpayers. Replacing past medical uses with fast food or restaurant uses certainly greatly diminishes the amount of earned income tax generated by these properties. Again the property tax generated would be about the same, but the earned income tax ratables would be far lower, especially since waiters and waitresses earn very low hourly base rates. Couple that with the likelihood that other workers would be paid under the table and off the books and again you see the earned income tax revenues (which are nearly 70% of Newtown Twp's annual revenues) go done just on this one property. So from a tax perspective allowing medical use sites to turn into food courts is a big time loser.
Jay January 15, 2014 at 07:27 AM
We need more banks and stores that cater to people who are over 70, shop very infrequently, and have zero expectations of anyone being open past 6 p.m. Ok, ok, 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
Man Landers January 15, 2014 at 08:00 AM
Rob- Where are the "facts" in your argument? Do you know for a fact what the vet office paid it's staff? Do you know for a fact that a restaurant will illegally pay it's workers under the table? The truth is that no facts to date support which business would generate more earned income tax. If they do, please share. "Fact" is that DeLorenzos would have been a unique, destination restaurant, attracting customers from all over the area. Surely many of these people would stroll and shop through downtown Newtown, contributing to the health of the local retail economy beyond DeLorenzos. "Fact" is that it would have created more needed jobs for our community, especially with the younger work force. Isn't having teenagers employed a good thing for our community? These are the children of the workers in the business commons. I hope our local business leaders and government can work with DeLorenzos to find another location.
Jordan January 15, 2014 at 08:08 AM
Man Landers, are you arguing that waiters make more money than Veterinarians? I think that since what you are arguing goes AGAINST all common sense, it's YOU who needs to provide the facts, not Rob. No one here is against DeLorenzos at all and no one is certainly against new jobs in the area, so arguing that it would have been a destination restaurant and a good employer for teenagers is a moot point. Also, in the short term what you are describing sounds nice. However, in the long term it could have been a disastrous decision to set the precedent of restaurants in this area. What if DeLorenzo's falls on hard times and sells to McDonalds? What if then the gas station sells to Burger King? After that the doctor's office sells to Wendy's. Another open plot builds an Arby's. Yuck. There are locations where DeLorenzos could move in the township, and SHOULD move, and they would be welcomed there with open arms.
Man Landers January 15, 2014 at 08:34 AM
J- I'll bet you a slice of DeLorenzos clam pizza that if you compared the net earned income contribution of, for the sake of argument, a high volume restaurant like Applebee's vs the Vet Hospital, I believe that Applebee's would come out top. Same for a Vet Hospital vs a high volume pizza restaurant. But even if I am wrong the discussion is limited if we're only talking earned income contribution. What is the "disaster" associated with a restaurant in that location? Is it worse than the "disaster" of say Stockburgers abandoning their site or Acme abandoning theirs? The community survives. Is it a "disaster" if a pizza place is replaced by a Burger King. Will that be the ruination of Newtown? I just don't see it. Tell me why.
Jordan January 15, 2014 at 08:39 AM
If you believe that adding a strip of fast food joints is what is needed in Newtown, then we will have to agree to disagree. Maybe we should turn the Temperance House into a Popeyes?
The Illuminati January 15, 2014 at 09:33 AM
Maybe people will care when all the business dries up in Newtown and people are forced to pay quadruple their property taxes to fill the void.
The Illuminati January 15, 2014 at 09:38 AM
Remember. ..Lockheed is leaving, the old Acme site is still a dream that hasn't been fulfilled and I don't see many big businesses vying to come to newtown. Sooner or later many businesses will just leave or see the writing on the wall and either leave or just decide on a more business friendly Municipality. Then everyone can have their bucolic Newtown from 1940 back and their average tax bill will $940 a year (like bucolic Upper Makefield) and not the current $94 a year.
Man Landers January 15, 2014 at 09:48 AM
Please read what I wrote, J. It's an extreme stretch to extrapolate from my comments that I (or anyone else) is advocating a strip of fast food joints. You and others appear to be building an argument seeded by some fearful futuristic nightmare scenario of your own creation. Man Landers advice is to not eat a Big Mac with fries right before you go to bed.
Rob Ciervo January 15, 2014 at 09:55 AM
The Newtown Vetinary Hospital has 7 Vets and over 10 techs at their present site. Even at half of that staff, to claim that the earned income of a pizza joint or an Applebee's would surpass or even be 1/2 of that is not in keeping with reality. Which 1 employee at Applebee's or a pizza parlor is making $90,000 a year as that is the median salary of a vet, let alone which 4 or 5? It is because of proper zoning, sticking to a vision and then adapting when appropriate that the Newtown Business Commons has become the success that it is. Whittling away at that success because it seems good in the moment is not something I would like to see Newtown do. I'll take anyone up on the bet that a Vet Hospital with even just 4 Vets and 5 techs brings in less earned income tax than a 4,500 square foot pizzeria for anyone wishing to make that bet.
The Illuminati January 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM
I'll bet a vacant lot is making a lot less in revenue.
Rob Ciervo January 15, 2014 at 10:05 AM
As I mentioned before, at its vacant state, it is generating the same exact amount of money in real estate taxes for the school district and the municipality. If we just allow every property in the Business Commons once vacant to be filled regardless of the use, over time, that changes dramatically the earned income tax receipts for the entire area. Similarly if Holy Family buys up the Lockheed property that would be a huge loss in tax revenue, which is why the school board's decision years ago to sue Lockheed Martin, because they did not like their tax assessment was so foolish (pennywise but pound foolish). What we need is a for a pharma company from NJ to locate to that site, so we can get higher paying jobs back which is good for the community and the town's earned income and local services tax receipts (which keep township property taxes low). There is a good property for sale at Sycamore and Washington avenue. Perhaps De Lorenzo's could buy there or maybe work with Goodnoe's who is own Sycamore Street to create a new building for both businesses. That would be a win-win.
The Illuminati January 15, 2014 at 10:09 AM
In the mean time, the old Vet property will become the Acme site of Newtown Yardley Road while it's sits for over a decade until the board relents and decides to join the 21st century. Sometimes a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. I hope you are right Rob, but unfortunately history has proven me right time and again.
Traci January 15, 2014 at 10:10 AM
Can anyone confirm the rumor that DeLorenzo also tried to open in Yardley? If you can confirm, what was the reasoning to stop the pursuit?
Rob Ciervo January 15, 2014 at 10:13 AM
Speaking of the Bird in Hand, that is for sale. Though in the Borough that would be an ideal location for De Lorenzo's. This is another important point. If we just allow the Business Commons to become another commerical area, guess what that does to State Street in Newtown Borough? It pulls businesses out of there. This is why we have stuck to the idea of steering new businesses to Sycamore Street, to have that become a compliment to State Street. Great towns like Newtown Borough and Newtown Township don't happen by accident, they do require some planning and sticking to zoning standards. Remember the Acme site fell vacant because the developer chose by the old board went bankrupt. It sits vacant now because of the county sewer moratorium. Those things are out of the hands of the Supervisors. When the new developer came before us there was good give and take. I was not personally happy with all of the condos, but the number was reduced as was the height of the building.
bobrodo January 15, 2014 at 10:37 AM
Agree that Bird in Hand would be great location for De Lorenzo's, but at current price seems way too much to spend. Could they open next to new liquor store when that is finally built? I am just waiting for Gulf to sell out to Wawa and a Super Wawa goes in at the Gulf/Vet Hospital site. That will be a big uproar in this community, but it actually may bring in more revenue for community as people will buy their gas in Newtown again!!!
Rob Ciervo January 15, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Bob, the current zoning in the OL-I district does not allow for a retail store on that site. The Gulf was grandfathered in as that was their prior to the jointure zoning which was created in the early 1980s. As an aside I went to elementary school with Rick Steele and I can't see him selling out to Wawa.
bobrodo January 15, 2014 at 11:19 AM
Rob, mostly joking on Wawa as it seems like nothing getting through Township zoning last few years. Competition is good and from wherever I see a new Wawa, they do great job with adding lanes and keeping things within zoning. I prefer it out on bypass near Lockhead but like anything else, Newtown will strike it down and probably put another bank there. As for your Big Pharm comment, good luck getting anyone to come to that site. Companies are closing sites , not moving people/sites.
The Illuminati January 15, 2014 at 11:36 AM
Bobrodo...agree with you 100%. This town needs an affordable gas station that is open past 9PM. It's ridiculous that anyone who drives in Newtown has to find gas in either Richboro or Langhorne at night.
Man Landers January 15, 2014 at 09:03 PM
Fear. Fear. Fear. Speculation. Speculation. Speculation. No one knows what the future holds (except , ahem, certain commenters) and progress requires risk. Next thing we'll be hearing is that if a destination restaurant like Delorenzos comes to that location it means the certainty of digging up the graves at Newtown Cemetery to make room for a Sheetz.
Jay January 16, 2014 at 07:10 AM
Won't someone think about the children? Someone had to write that there at some point, so I got it out of the way. That end of town is a odd place to develop any retail business in relation to the State Street, Sycamore, and all of the mall locations.
Percy Naranjo January 17, 2014 at 08:39 AM
@ Rob Ciervo: you seem very fluent in this topic. I'm a partner in a business in Newtown. Could the issue have been the sewer moratorium? I was trying to bring another business to Newtown and that is what stopped me. Lastly someone wrote that Newtown didn't want restaurants on Newtown-Yardley Road. There are two restaurants on that road.
Rob Ciervo January 17, 2014 at 09:15 AM
Percy, I am unsure as to why this applicant did not plead their case for a variance at the Zoning Hearing Board. The sewer moratorium is something that has been decided at the state level by the PA DEP. I am unaware of any restaurants within 300 feet of Newtown-Yardley Road currently. To which are you referring?
Jay January 20, 2014 at 04:09 PM
I hear that their tomato pie attract bears. Now these restaurants are putting the whole town at risk.
the VOICE January 22, 2014 at 11:05 AM
How Bout Lions and Tigers TOO !
Jay January 23, 2014 at 07:12 AM
Voice, don't get crazy. We all know that Lions and Tigers don't eat tomato pies!


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