Wilbur project updated

By on November 28, 2018

No tax hike proposed in 2019 Lititz budget

Developers preparing the Wilbur Chocolate Factory Redevelopment project updated Lititz Borough Council Tuesday, presenting a revised preliminary/final land development plan, including a number of minor revisions.

Eric Scott of Oak Tree’s Development Group and Alex Piehl of RGS were on hand to detail some of the proposed revisions to the plan, which repurpose the former Wilbur Chocolate Factory into a 74-room boutique hotel, 26 loft-style condominiums, a 150-seat restaurant and small retail shops. There would also be two upscale apartment buildings and one 55+ apartment building.

Piehl went over the revisions to the plan, which will increase the number of apartments in the two buildings by 14 units. There would be 80 units in new buildings and 89 units in the other, bringing the total to 169 units. The number of 55+ units would remain at the original plan for 32 units. There would be additional parking to allow for the 14 additional units being proposed.

The retail shop space is being downsized, bringing the space from 4,200 square feet to 2,850. The number of condos would remain at 26, and the hotel rooms would also remain at 74.

Piehl noted that a retaining wall on one side of the apartment building was being eliminated. The two apartment buildings would have five stories, and exterior materials would offer a mix of brick, stone, and two different types of siding. 

Lititz Borough Council were on board with the changes, noting that they liked the proposed exterior elevation of the apartments.

Borough council agreed to advertise a proposed zero-tax-hike 2019 budget with no increase in real estate tax planned for borough property owners. A few of the proposed expenditures included in the plan are a Route 772 traffic study, renting the ice house at fair market value, lobby lighting work at the Lititz Police Department and body cameras for police officers.

Other possible expenditures include a tax incentive for firefighters, Venture Lititz donation, additional public works employee of half the year, Lititz Run rail trail path and sign at Oak Street, and increasing the transfer to the Storm Drainage Fund.

One of the expenditures for 2018 had been the refurbishing of the holiday star lights in the borough. The new lights, which are replicas of the original stars that date back to 1937. There were 55 new stars designed and built just in time for the holiday season. The prototype was designed by Chad Reed, who works for the borough. The reproduction five-point aluminum star was then powder-coated for durability in the elements and fitted with energy-efficient LED lights to match the historic stars.

“The new stars are getting a great reception here in downtown Lititz,” said Lititz Borough Police Chief Kerry Nye, adding that there are 48 lights installed, and each new star was sponsored for $450, with the donors receiving an old star as a keepsake. “It has been very popular.”

Alex Piehl of RGS went over the revisions to the plan, which will increase the number of apartments in the two buildings by 14 units. There would be 80 units in new buildings and 89 units in the other, bringing the total to 169 units. The number of 55+ units would remain at the original plan for 32 units. There would be additional parking to allow for the 14 additional units being proposed.

In other business, a request for a portion of West Fourth Street to be vacated was presented by attorney William Cassidy. He was representing property owners Michael and Karen Healy and Joan Clair, requesting that the unopened portion of West Fourth Street be officially vacated. The road has been on the borough map since the 1920s, but never opened. The Healys and Clair are interested in building a curb and sidewalk that would provide easier access for a wheelchair-bound resident who needs am accessible sidewalk.
A public hearing would need to be scheduled to approve the request.

Another project that is underway on Juniper Lane was also discussed. Renovations are currently underway at 5 Juniper Lane to make way for a new mixed-used space offering live entertainment, craft beer, and local art.

The former warehouse is more than 100 years old and plans call for original materials, including floors, wooden beams, and stone walls in the basement to be will be restored or repurposed. A targeted opening is spring of 2019. Developers are asking the borough to consider making a portion of Juniper Lane from Broad Street to Raspberry Lane a one-way street. One proposal was for the one-way portion to run from east to west.

Nye agreed that the portion be one-way, but suggested that it run from west to east. He noted that drivers would be caught off guard if they tried to enter Juniper Lane from Broad Street and found it to be one-way going the other direction. He was also concerned about traffic entering onto Broad Street at that location. Borough council will be reviewing the request, and several council members agreed with Nye’s suggestion that the one-way portion run east to west for safety reasons.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

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