Township approves first phase of Sanatoga Green project
When finished, development will add nearly 500 housing units
LOWER POTTSGROVE >> With little fanfare and no comment, the Lower Pottsgrove Township Commissioners voted unanimously Dec. 3 to approve the first phase of a $146 million project which, when finished, will construct nearly 500 housing units near the Limerick outlets.
The first phase approved calls for the construction of 147 town homes. The final site plan for this phase was recommended by the township planning commission in October, said Township Manager Ed Wagner.
Construction is set to begin in the spring.
Located on a total of 57 acres, the project calls for the construction of 490 housing units comprised of the approved 147 town homes; 343 apartments in 17 buildings; a 50,000 square foot medical office building and a 108room hotel.
The site is located off Evergreen Road, near the entrance to the Costco and Philadelphia Premium Outlets, both of which are in Limerick Township.
The project was first envisioned in 2014, when the township commissioners agreed to change the zoning to “gateway mixed use” at the suggestion of the developers, Castle Caldecott, LLC.
The project won preliminary site plan approval from the township commissioners in July, 2017.
Commercial Comes Next
Township Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. said a clause remains in place that requires the commercial phases of the project to be built next, before the apartments, otherwise the developers can be subject to a penalty of $375,000.
The commissioners had previously expressed concern that if all the housing were built first, the commercial properties might never get built.
That would be of gravest concern to the Pottsgrove School District, which benefits from tax revenues from commercial properties because they do not add to the district’s enrollment. Residential development, on the other hand, does.
Last year, Pottsgrove School District Business Manager David Nester shared the results of a demographic study that forecast the district could see growth of as much as 3,700 more students in the next 10 years.
However, the scenario the consultant hired by the board in November considers the most likely is an 8-percent increase in the next 10 years, which works out to 262 additional children.
Nester said the buildings most likely to see the greatest impact under this scenario are Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School (53 more students) and Pottsgrove Middle School, which would see 109 more.
The primary drivers behind this forecast are the residential units in Sanatoga Green and the 58unit rental development off Moyer Road in Upper Pottsgrove.
“We’ve never had his kind of influx of housing before. These numbers are conservative, and frankly they’re still twice what developers said,” Nester told the board last year.
That forecast may be diminished somewhat since the Spring Valley Farms development now being built off Bleim Road in Lower Pottsgrove was changed over to be marketed to residents over 50 years old.
But Castle Caldecott’s analysis predicted the Sanatoga Green project will generate only 58 additional students for the school district and will be a tax windfall.
Estimated to generate just over $3 million in additional tax revenue for the school district, a 2016 analysis done for the developers, estimated $1.1 million in costs to the district.
That leaves Pottsgrove Schools $2.6 million on the positive side when Sanatoga Green is completed, according to the analysis.
As for the township, which has a much lower millage rate, the total revenues would rise by $627,159, minus $385,400 in costs for township services — again, undocumented — leaving a net gain of $241,759.
Attempts to ascertain the projected impact the project will have on local traffic for this article were not successful.
However, more homes usually equals more cars.
As it stands, PennDOT is already moving ahead with upgrades to Route 422’s Sanatoga interchange, which is nearby to the project.
The $3 million project will allow traffic driving away from the Philadelphia Outlets and Costco to get onto westbound Route 422 without having to cross opposing traffic on Evergreen Road as it does now
The project is expected to take most of 2019 to construct and is not likely to be ready for use until 2020. Sewer Impacts Sanatoga Green will generate 78,000 gallons of wastewater per day. It will be pumped to the Pottstown Wastewater Treatment Plant with the help of $500,000 worth of improvements to a township pump station.
The state, concerned about the amount of stormwater and groundwater infiltrating Lower Pottsgrove’s sewer system, approved the additional flow after the township increased its efforts to stem that infiltration from $175,000 per year to $435,000, said Wagner.
Models of town home designs being considered for Sanatoga Green. The construction of 147 town homes was approved Dec. 3.