Into the Woodlands Borough discusses potential development

By on August 7, 2013

By:

GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent

, Staff Writer

Lititz Borough officials heard an in-depth presentation detailing a possible new project called Warwick Woodlands during their planning commission meeting Tuesday evening. This followed a rescheduled, abbreviated meeting of Lititz Borough Council.

For several years, this project planned by Moravian Manor has progressed slowly on several fronts.

President and CEO of Moravian Manor, David Swartley, stressed that Moravian Manor’s board has yet to give the official green light on the project. Various feasibility studies, from those looking at market conditions to those looking at financials and traffic studies are but a few of the steps that must be concluded before a final decision to move forward on the project can be made. Simultaneously, engineering work on the project must progress.

Swartley was clear on the current status of the project.

"The board of directors has not yet approved this project at this time," said Swartley, saying he hoped to have further analysis of the project ready for consideration by September. "In the meantime, we are reviewing the costs and feasibility of the project, trying to align partners and capital investors for the project."

Alex Piehl of RGS Associates, the Lancaster engineering firm overseeing the project, was on hand complete with drawings and details on the current state of planning. In an overview of the site, he explained that the project would be located on 72 acres entirely within borough limits on what was known as the Beamesderfer tract, but bordering on Warwick Township and on land that is part of the Warwick School District campus. Located at 400 W. Orange St., Piehl noted that while the plot is relatively flat, that in itself could present some engineering challenges as a sewage pump system would be required instead of the typical gravity flow system. However, all the other utility systems including cable, electric and water are already in place adjacent to the site.

As currently presented to planners, the project would be a combination of mixed commercial and residential uses. Several larger buildings would utilize the first and second floors for commercial and community based amenities from a wellness center, cafes and recreation areas.

"A total of 226 apartments are planned on the project on the upper floors of the commercial buildings," explained Piehl. He added that the balance of residential opportunities would be a combination of detached single and semi-detached homes. Twenty assisted living beds would also be planned within the complex. Along West Sixth Street, 25 lots would be subdivided and sold. These would not be part of the overall project. However, planners urged that those 25 lots be developed concurrently and in a manner in which the look and feel of those homes is consistent with the rest of the project.

Throughout the entire project, developers are looking to create a very close streetscape look and feel to the development. Effective use of cottage style homes, larger community buildings, street trees and landscaping are intended to give the development a community feel.

Piehl and planners discussed various aspects of the plan in its current form, but both sides continued to stress that this was primarily informational in nature and not yet at a point of beginning the formal steps necessary for actual construction.

Swartley re-emphasized how simultaneously his organization needs to continue studying the cost, timing and feasibility of the project while Piehl and RGS Associates continues the numerous pre-production stages of the project.

Should the project remain on track for groundbreaking, the path ahead could take up to another two years before the first scoop of dirt is moved. Phase one alone could take up to five years for completion. The entire build-out could be expected to take as long as 25 years.

Yet, as Swartly explained, Moravian Manor leaders want to be carefully prudent in considering this sizable new undertaking. He added that such a new development would not be intended to be a Moravian enclave, but a community resource, with the development and its amenities shared with the greater Lititz community.

More PLANNING COMMISSION, page A3