Redevelopment of Pennsylvania's Nazareth Speedway to Include Office, Retail Space

May 25--The companies that two months ago entered into a sales agreement to purchase Nazareth Speedway presented Lower Nazareth Township officials their first glimpse of what could become of the prime property.

Ashley Development Corp. and Wind-Drift Real Estate of Bethlehem, along with MediaBay founder and real estate developer Norton Herrick of New Jersey announced in March that they joined in a sale agreement to buy the 158-acre tract for $18.8 million.

The site would feature mixed uses including 100,000 square feet that are designated retail and another 19,000 square feet for office space. The bulk of the plan would be residential, with a combination of single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and an age-qualified development.

A civic building would anchor the project, touted as a pedestrian-friendly community with parks, and housing units with porches and neighbors who know one another.

"We're not here with any predisposed ideas," said Lou Pektor, owner of Ashley Development, which is serving as the project's managing partner. "We want your input."

But it was one aspect in particular that impressed township officials and residents -- the traffic component.

The group's traffic consultant, Rob Hoffman, of Traffic Planning and Design Inc., addressed the five intersections any project at the site of the speedway would affect.

The intersections, including one at Route 191 and Newburg and Daniels roads, are well known for being congested.

Hoffman detailed what needed to be done at each intersection. Pektor assured residents that the developers were planning to pay for all the improvements.

"We're assuming it's our bill. We're assuming the worst," he said.

The proposal included presentations by the traffic, engineering and architectural firms. Ensuring the project has no adverse impact on traffic, schools, taxes and municipal services is a priority of the developers, Pektor said.

Nearly a year ago, local developer Abraham Atiyeh submitted plans for a project with similar components, including restaurants, retail, commercial and even an age-restricted development. But township officials scoffed at his plan to bring in minor league hockey and a sports arena, questioning the reality of such a plan.

Atiyeh also did little to ease traffic concerns of township residents, though plans were abandoned before any serious discussion on the topic arose.

Officials praised the project Wednesday, giving Pektor an unofficial green light to proceed with more detailed plans.

"I like the village concept. I like the idea of taking care of the schools," said Supervisor Robert Kucsan.

International Speedway Corp. owns the old raceway property, near Routes 191 and 248 in Lower Nazareth. The track closed in August 2004 in part because of dwindling support, and was put up for sale five months later.

In other news, the board gave conditional, final approval for a 1.4 million-square-foot industrial warehousing complex. Greenfield Builders Inc. dropped its legal appeal Wednesday, which challenged the supervisors decision during the preliminary approval process to limit daily truck traffic to 2,788 trips.

Greenfield officials declined to comment on why they dropped their appeal.

Before construction can began, the company must first receive the necessary Federal Emergency Management Agency approvals to build on part of the property that lies in a flood plain.


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