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Township, developer forge ahead with Franklin Mint plan

3/5/2014 | Real Estate Blog

When the Franklin Mint closed a decade ago, it left a hole in Middletown Township. A visibly vacant, 170-acre business park, right along Route 1, with the round museum building a lingering memento of the collectibles company. The site immediately attracted developers, but the economy tanked, residents protested, and the development partnership ran into trouble.

There is a new proposal on the table, and Middletown has approved a zoning ordinance to accommodate the plan. In a few years’ time, there will be townhomes, office space, retail space and a hotel among other new developments along the Baltimore Pike.

If the residents’ group does not object, that is.

Earlier plans had run into significant opposition from residents’ “Save Middletown” campaign. Whether time has softened their views or the new plan is better is unclear, but the group’s most recent meeting attracted far fewer participants than meetings in the past. Still, the people who were there are concerned about the development’s impact on the neighborhood.

Traffic continues to be a concern. The corridor is already heavily traveled, a fact the township council is well aware of. When the council approved the zoning change, it also approved a local services tax; the revenue will be used to improve the intersection of Routes 1 and 452.

The schools are already bursting at the seams, according to the residents, and adding more housing to the area will only make the problem worse. The developer, however, says the townhomes will be marketed to empty-nesters and people in their 50’s and 60’s. The impact on the schools should be minimal.

Residents also voiced concerns about the effect the development will have on emergency services. Will new homes and offices strain the township’s resources? Township officials said there should not be a problem.

The developer says the first phase will include about 350 townhouses and some office space. The rest will follow, but completion could take some time.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Zoning change approved, finally, for Franklin Mint site,” Laura McCrystal, March 2, 2014