Gone baby gone

By on January 7, 2015

A look back at some of 2014’s top stories

The year 2014 was interesting, fun, happy, sad, exciting, sometimes unpleasant and in the end: Over.

Similar to that end, Ephrata residents will notice several constants that aren’t returning this year: the Ephrata landscape along Main Street/Route 322; Mike Brubaker, a fixture in the state Senate for eight years, and a section of the historic Green Dragon market complex that was destroyed in a spectacular two-alarm fire.

Workers prepare to remove a tree on the 800 block of Main Street where development plans continue to evolve on an 11-plus acre parcel.

Workers prepare to remove a tree on the 800 block of Main Street where development plans continue to evolve on an 11-plus acre parcel.

LR Brubaker at Rock Lititz SN20140921B102

Changing Landscape

Several buildings have departed the landscape while others have entered the panorama along the half-mile section of Route 322 just west Route 222.

Drivers traveling along Route 322 on Dec. 19, may have noticed what appeared to be a 30-foot palm tree at the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road, across from Ephrata Marketplace, which was completed in the summer.

A perfect, cloudless blue sky added to the mirage of what actually was a trimmed down pine tree at 834 E. Main St. The tree was cut down next to one of the last remaining homes standing along that section of road &tstr; on the east side of the intersection where the former Route 322 General Store stood.

The General Store, once Widder’s Store, was demolished in the summer. It’s one of four properties within the preliminary boundary plans submitted to PennDOT regarding 11.34 acres of property owned by developer Property Investing and Management.

That parcel along the ever-changing Main Street redesign faces the newly opened Ephrata Marketplace, 866 E. Main St., which opened in November, 2013.

The Giant-anchored Ephrata Marketplace was not fully built until the 3,900-square-foot McDonald’s opened in August.

Meanwhile, the landscape across from McDonald’s continues to evolve. The property at 834 Main St. &tstr; at the Main Street/Pleasant Valley Road intersection is designated as a 13,000-square-foot pharmacy on PIM’s plan submitted in its PennDOT Scoping Application

The Ephrata Review reported that a model called “Ephrata Crossing” was submitted in a Sept. 12, 2013 transportation impact study report by PIM. It includes a 46,900-square-foot shopping center, 30,000-square-foot health/fitness center, and the pharmacy on the corner.

Still, Ephrata Township Manager Steve Sawyer said no official plans have yet been put forward and all plans are subject to change.

“What will eventually go there we don’t know,” Sawyer said.

Mike Brubaker leaves office

Brubaker, who was a regular contributor to The Ephrata Review’s opinion page, officially left office when Sen. Ryan Aument was sworn in this week.

Brubaker, the former chairman of the Senate finance committee, last month announced his new CEO position with the new firm Blackford Ventures LLC.

The company is part of Richard Welkowitz’s Blackford Development Empire which provides real estate development services and invests in shopping centers and office buildings in south-central Pennsylvania and many other financial ventures.

Regionally situated near the Rock & Roll epicenter at Rock Lititz, Blackford Ventures is partnered with Live Nation, which promotes over 22,000 events each year.

Live Nation events include concerts, stage performances, and other events annually attended by more than 50 million people, according to the LinkedIn page of Dragan Dodik, Blackford Ventures president.

The company’s synergy with Rock Lititz is obvious. For instance, Rock Lititz partner Clair Global designed U2’s 360-Degree Tour &tstr;described in 2011 as “the most ambitious and expensive concert tour and stage design in the history of the live music business” &tstr; was produced and marketed by Live Nation Entertainment.

Like Rock Lititz, Live Nation is contracted with a myriad of artists. In fact, Dodik notes that “Live Nation is the largest conglomeration of performing talent in the world.”

According to a statement released by Brubaker: “The Blackford Ventures team specializes in innovative technologies, U.S. energy, existing and start-up businesses, commercial and industrial real estate (site locations, acquisitions and build to lease), construction and site development evaluation and monetizing public assets. Along with quick access to substantial capital, Blackford Ventures’ experienced professionals bring the capabilities, personal networks, and confidence to act quickly on high quality, innovative opportunities in multiple business sectors.”

Green Dragon Fire

Many local hearts sank when they awoke Sept. 13 to learn that a fast-moving blaze destroyed a section of the property off North State Street in Ephrata Township.

But within hours, the Green Dragon owners and vendors had already focused on rebuilding and reopening the 82-year-old market. The market opened partially on Sept. 26 and plans are in place to rebuild what was lost.

The fire at the 30-acre complex displaced 16 standholders and destroyed a small animal auction that reopened Dec. 5.

The destroyed building, which housed the auction and three other businesses, started out as a large animal sale barn decades ago. The small animal auction was using the former dairy ring.

The fire’s cause remains unknown but is not suspicious. No animals were in the building during the fire.

Ephrata Township Board of Supervisors discussed Green Dragon’s plans to replace the lost building at its Dec. 8 meeting. Supervisors determined that no land development plan is required since the proposed replacement building fit in the original footprint.

Ephrata Township Manager Steve Sawyer said the new building may actually be slightly smaller than the original. Green Dragon owners have not set an official construction timetable or when the businesses will reopen.

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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