The round of applause that followed the Newtown Township Supervisors’ Wednesday approval of a development on the old Acme site will pale in comparison to the cheers that will undoubtedly ensue when the former grocery store comes crumbling down.
That long-awaited event is expected to happen in August.
And when it does, it will be a celebration, said Jim Worthington, a project investor for The Promenade.
He said the town will be invited to watch as construction trucks knock the abandoned building down to make way for The Promenade, a mixed-used development. “We’ll make it a celebration,” he said.
The old Acme on Sycamore Street has for years been known as the town’s biggest eyesore. But with the supervisors' unanimous approval of the revised plans, the building’s demise is one step closer.
Plans for the site have been scaled back since approval was first given to McGrath Homes in 2009. A group of investors, including Worthington, have stepped in to see the project come to fruition.
The development will feature 20,000 square feet of retail space in two buildings. The previous plans called for 22,600 square feet of retail in one building that featured a breezeway.
There will be five retail tenants, including Anthropologie, as well as 26 one-bedroom apartment rental units. The previous plans included 25 condominiums. As per a restriction requested by the township, no full-service restaurants with liquor licenses will be permitted in the development.
Sycamore Street business owners and representatives of the historic Newtown Presbyterian Church, which is next to the property, said they approve of the project.
Sycamore Street Community Association President Shawn Ward said his group, which is made up of Sycamore Street businesses and property owners, supports the project “100 percent.”
“We are excited to see this project finally come to fruition,” Ward said. “It is a welcome addition to Sycamore Street.”
Walt Jamison, a longtime member of the Presbyterian Church, said the church is extremely happy with the redesign of the development. He called the scaled-back plans “a tremendous improvement” over the previous ones.
Worthington commended township officials and employees for their cooperation over the past few months. Since modifications to the plans were announced, township staff and officials “have gone out of their way to make this happen," he said.
While many in the community are rightfully frustrated by the lack of progress at the old Acme site, the applicant – not the township – is to blame, Worthington said.
“It’s been a disaster. I want to acknowledge that,” Worthington said.