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‘Welcome’ change $2.9 million Gateway project will give borough’s southern entrance a major makeover
ROCHELLE A. SHENK Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
Those driving north on Route 501 will soon receive a Federal greeting when they enter Lititz.
A formal groundbreaking ceremony was held Aug. 29 for the $2.9 million phase one portion of what is known as the Lititz Gateway project.
By August 2014, two 4,000-square-foot commercial/retail buildings will be built on the site along Lititz Pike (Route 501), near the crest of Kissel Hill.
The project, nine years in the making, is being developed by Lititz Land Trust and Fidevia, a construction management and consulting firm. Fidevia, which currently has offices on North Broad Street in downtown Lititz, plans to occupy the third floor of one of the new buildings.
Fidevia principal Dan Cicala said the buildings will be Federal style brick structures with stone water-coursing.
"Federal style is the first truly American architectural style," he explained. "There are many period buildings in Lititz that reflect various aspects of the Federal style, so these will fit in with the community. As these buildings physically sit at the southern entrance to Lititz and will contain the formal ‘Welcome to Lititz’ sign, the project has been named the Lititz Gateway."
Lititz Borough Council president Karen Weibel said the borough has been working to create "welcome" signage at all four entrances to the borough, which is part of the borough and Warwick Township’s joint strategic plan. The first of these signs was constructed by Rolex in 2001 as part of its Watch Technicum school at the north end of Route 501. Gateway marks the second of these signs. The east and west entrances to the borough may vary in design, depending on location and parties involved with their construction.
Returning to Gateway, the eight-acre infill property is an irregularly-shaped lot that is configured roughly like a lightning bolt and is rather hilly. It’s bordered by Route 501 to the east, Woodridge Swim Club to the west, LaPiazza to the south and Landis Wash and Lube and Weis Markets to the north. It straddles both Lititz Borough and Warwick Township, but since most of the land lies within Warwick Township, the township government has taken the lead on the project.
Lititz Gateway has several components and has helped make the long-awaited extension of Highlands Drive possible. Logan Myers, chairman of the Warwick Township Supervisors, said this particular road extension is a key component to the township’s comprehensive plan.
"We’ve wanted to complete that road for 15 years; it’s a relief route for 501. Completing Highlands Drive was a cooperative effort that would not have occurred without (the Lititz Gateway project)," he said.
Myers added that a grant helped fund the project, along with contributions from Lititz Land Trust, Weis Markets and the developers of the parcel that includes the new AutoZone. Both Weis and the AutoZone tract have access from Highlands Drive.
Additionally, the LaPiazza Italian Restaurant and Sports Bar purchased over an acre along Route 501 from Lititz Land Trust for a future expansion to construct additional parking. The Gateway buildings will share some of that parking.
Giuseppe Gambino, who partners with his brother in the restaurant, said the additional parking is crucial.
"We need to accommodate our current customers. We’re also planning a future expansion that will include a larger outdoor dining area, larger sports bar, banquet room, and a delicatessen area, so we’ll need parking for that," he explained.
It will also improve traffic flow to the restaurant since there will be two shared accesses to Highlands Drive – one with the AutoZone tract, and one with Lititz Gateway’s two new commercial/retail buildings. There will be an additional access to Route 501, and the existing Route 501 access will become right-in and right-out.
The Lititz Gateway buildings will access both Highlands Drive and Route 501; Route 501 will be accessed through the LaPiazza parking area. The Gateway property will also feature a small "pocket park." Cicala said that although the commercial/retail buildings will not be completed until next year, road improvements along Route 501 and Highlands Drive are expected to be done in 2013.
Future development plans for the Lititz Land Trust tract includes two age-restricted apartment buildings with a total of 72 units. The complex will be for adults, age 55+, and located off Highlands Drive between Holiday Inn Express and Woodridge Swim Club. Cicala described the one- and two-bedroom units as "high end." Current plans indicate that in addition to a parking lot, both buildings would feature ground level garage parking. The building closest to Highlands Drive will accommodate 36 spaces, and the second building will host 34 spaces. He anticipates groundbreaking for this part of the overall project sometime next year. Additional details on phase two should be available later this year.
Cicala said Harbor Engineering has handled engineering for development of the tract, while LandStudies and ELA Group have assisted in developing the master site plan. Architectural plans for the Lititz Gateway buildings were drafted by PLPS, and B.R. Kreider & Son will perform the bulk of the site improvements between Route 501 and Highlands Drive.
More GATEWAY, page A16