Location Key as Pennsylvania Retail Project Bucks Slow Economy

While projects across the country stall or delay until the economy turns a corner, a half-million square foot Pennsylvania retail development dubbed Exeter Commons is bucking the trend with 94 percent of its space pre-leased as a late summer opening approaches. The 490,000-square-foot project is located about 40 miles southwest of Allentown, Penn., and is being developed by Exeter JV Associates L.P., a partnership of The Goldenberg Group and Ironwood Property Group. The cost of the project was not disclosed. What key element that allowed Exeter Commons to proceed when others stalled was location, according to Kevin Trapper, senior vice president of The Goldenberg Group. “Exeter is the gateway into Berks County, which is one of the fastest growing counties in Pennsylvania,” Trapper told CPN. “The location was the hole in the doughnut. National retailers had stores in surrounding communities, but nothing in Exeter. This project seemed to remain a priority from national tenants.” Two of Exeter Commons’ anchor stores–Target and Giant Foods–are scheduled to open in late July, with the grand opening of Lowe’s to follow in August. “Consumers are excited that they won’t have to drive 20 miles to go to Lowes, Target or Giant Foods,” Trapper said. “Even with the economy and the slower expansion of tenants, this project is on schedule with Target planning on open July 26 and others circling around that date. [The complex] is 94 percent leased and we have several prospects for the remaining 16,000 square feet.” Exeter Commons will be the largest shopping center in Exeter Township. In addition to the anchor tenants, the property will also house Sonic Drive-In, Wells Fargo/Wachovia, Red Robin, Chick-Fil-A and Affinity Bank.