Another Route 322 shopping center?

By on March 19, 2014

Another gleaming shopping center flanked by a fitness center, bank, fast-food restaurant, and drive-through pharmacy could adorn the now empty lot across from the new Giant shopping center on Route 322.

Will it happen?

That’s a definite maybe.

But a model for such a project, called Ephrata Crossing, happens to be detailed specifically in a transportation impact study report completed Sept. 12 for Property Investing and Management Inc., PIM, which owns the 11-plus acre property at 825 E Main St.

Documents in the transportation study include plans for a 46,900-square-foot shopping center, 30,000-square-foot health/fitness center, and a 13,000-square-foot pharmacy.

PIM’s preliminary transportation study &tstr;completed by ELA Group &tstr; estimated that the proposed shopping-fitness center model would generate 6,399 daily trips to the often congested area across from Ephrata Marketplace that opened in November.

While the plan is very specific, PIM president Richard Stauffer cautioned that no development project yet exists.

“Right now we’re seeking potential users,” said Stauffer, who is marketing the site where the former Route 322 General Store stood off the intersection of East Main Street and Pleasant Valley Road until last week.

Still, a diagram in the study shows the pharmacy on the east side of Pleasant Valley Road that is flanked by a bank and fast food restaurant on the west side of the road facing Main Street.

The diagram also includes six other buildings on the west side of Pleasant Valley Road behind the proposed bank and fast food restaurant.

But Stauffer is slow to call the diagram a concept or even a model of what might be built on the property.

“If we have a user who comes in with a particular design criterion we’ll try to develop around what they would want,” Stauffer said Monday.

Steve Sawyer, township manager, acknowledged the property is zoned mixed use which permits commercial uses. While that leaves PIM plenty of flexibility, any development plan must first be approved by the township.

The next step for PIM will be to prepare and submit a transportation impact study to PennDOT, he said.

“I spoke with our traffic engineer this morning, John Schick from Rettew Associates, and he has not heard anything from PIM or his consultant since a PennDOT scoping meeting that was held in December,” Sawyer said last week.

“At this point, EphrataTownship has not received anything regarding development of this property other than a copy of the PennDOT scoping application,” he said.

While the future of the property is uncertain, its past is forever etched in history.

The Ephrata 322 General Store at 825 E Main St. &tstr; whose remains are piled high on the property after the building’s demolition this month &tstr; was once operated by Israel N. Widder, the proprietor of the Widder’s Store.

According to Ephrata resident Marla Stauffer, Widdler operated the store from 1893 until his death in 1917.

“His daughter, Lizzie, continued to run the store, which included the Murrell Post Office, until her death in 1949,” Marla noted. “It was then bought by the Hensels who had a grocery store. Mahlon S. Stauffer sold antique furniture in this building in the ‘80s.”

See pictures of the Widder’s Store in the “Did You Hear?” section on page A-2.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455

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