The investment is part of $23 million in low-interest loans the Commonwealth Financing Authority awarded to five new Business in Our Sites projects, announced Gov. Tom Wolf.
The Monroe County Industrial Development Authority received the loan on behalf of developer James DePetris, CEO of Legend Properties Commercial Real Estate of Plymouth Meeting. DePetris said he will build Smithfield Gateway, a project on Route 209 in Smithfield Township expected to create more than 1,000 jobs.
DePetris, who developed Dick’s Sporting Goods in Bartonsville, also in Monroe County, sees the region as one primed for growth.
“It’s the gateway into the township,” DePetris said of Smithfield Gateway. “It’s going to have a tremendous effect on the economy. It’s definitely a game-changer for the economy of the Poconos.”
The project covers 122 acres on undeveloped land. The first part of construction should cost an estimated $36.4 million, DePetris said, with final cost for the project topping $100 million.
The mixed-use project will include an anchor grocery store, several high-end retail shops, a residential component and a business park, said Michelle Bisbing, director of marketing for Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corp.
“It’s a variety of jobs; it’s going to be done in phases,” Bisbing said.
The first part of construction will create 200,000 square feet of retail space, DePetris said. The second part will include 240 high-end apartments and 100,000 square feet of office space. The third part involves construction of 120,000 square feet of retail.
DePetris said he does not have a construction firm selected. He is looking to break ground in June, with an expected opening in summer 2018. He is negotiating with tenants.
“We are very happy to be involved,” Bisbing said. “We’ve been working on assistance for some of the off-site improvements that have to take place.”
This work includes building a connecting road from Route 209 to Route 447, Bisbing said.
DePetris described Route 209 as probably the worst road in eastern Pennsylvania, since it’s difficult to make a left turn.
He said he will expand Route 209 near the site from two lanes to five lanes. It will cost $4 million to create those improvements, he said.
The state Department of Transportation supported the project, and DePetris said he also received a multimodal grant of $14 million for highway improvements.
“There’s been several different funding sources coming into the project so far,” Bisbing said.
Business in Our Sites funds will go toward acquiring additional properties, which are mainly vacant and total 32 acres.
The funds also will go toward site preparation, engineering and administrative costs.