Construction of shopping centers under way in Penn.'s Lehigh Valley

Several shopping malls start construction, scheduled to open in 2009


McGurk said that several retailers had committed to the site, but none that he could announce.

"We have a tremendous location and we're moving forward," he said.

Officials also mentioned Target for the Summit when they first announced plans for the shopping center. Anna Goeppinger, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis-based Target, said it is still possible. "It is not uncommon for Target to put another store within five miles of another if the market calls for it," she said.

However, she says, she could not comment on planned locations.

Yet another retail project that will see construction this year is at the Sands BethWorks casino site in south Bethlehem.

Plans call for 200,000 square feet of retail space in the first phase, said Tony Hanna, director of economic development for the City of Bethlehem.

Hanna said that the developers are in discussions with well-known national as well as local retailers. "They've had a lot of good discussions," he said. "They're progressing well on the retail and on the restaurant side."

Hanna expects that the names of some of the tenants will be announced by the middle of this year and that some will open by the third quarter of 2009. The slots casino is expected to open in the second quarter of 2009.

The master plan for the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant calls for additional retail, he said. "But whether it will be by Las Vegas Sands or some other group has not yet been determined."

Hanna said the retail project would proceed despite a weakened economy because it is tied to the casino.

"I don't think the economy will have an impact," he said. "The casino development, while not totally recession-proof, is a different retail paradigm."

The casino is expected to attract 5 million visitors a year. Other retail sites have to generate their own visitors. This project will be able to feed off the casino-goers. That's why, Hanna said, "they haven't seen any kind of diminution of interest in the project."

Beth W. Orenstein is a freelance writer.

RETAIL PROJECTS

(1) LOWER NAZARETH COMMONS

Size: 235,000 square feet

Stores: About 15 shops and restaurants, including Target, PetSmart and Sports Authority

Where: Just south of Wegmans in Lower Nazareth Township

Developer: Regency Centers based in Jacksonville, Fla., which owns more than 400 shopping plazas nationwide

Status: Construction expected to begin soon

(2) AIRPORT CENTER

Size: 500,000 square feet

Stores: Target, Sam's Club, A.C. Moore, PetSmart, Ross Dress for Less, The Christmas Tree Shops and Golf Galaxy. Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant is also expected to open

Where: Airport Road south of Route 22 in Hanover Township, Lehigh County

Status: Construction under way.

(3) THE SUMMIT

LEHIGH VALLEY

Size: About 1 million square feet

Stores: None announced yet

Where: Route 33 and Freemansburg Avenue in Bethlehem Township

Status: Construction expected to begin this year

(4) SANDS BETHWORKS

Size: 200,000 square feet of retail space (first phase)

Stores: None announced yet

Where: South Bethlehem

Status: Under construction Stores could open next year.

LATEST ADDITIONS

(5) THE PROMENADE SHOPS

AT SAUCON VALLEY

Size: 475,000 square feet

Stores: More than 60, including L.L. Bean, Fresh Market and Brooks Brothers

Where: Upper Saucon Twp.

Status: Opened October 2006

(6) OUTDOOR SHOPS

AT THE LEHIGH VALLEY MALL

Size: 110,000 square feet

Stores: 17, including Ann Taylor, J. Crew and Pottery Barn

Where: Whitehall Twp.

Status: Opened October 2007