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Falls considers rezoning to help fill shopping center vacancies

In an effort to help fill vacancies in the former Pathmark shopping center, the Falls Township Supervisors are considering a zoning change.
The supervisors on Monday voted unanimously to authorize advertisement to potentially rezone a portion of the shopping center, which is located at 500 Lincoln Highway.
If the amendment is adopted as advertised, the intersection of Arleans Avenue and Lincoln Highway – a 2.036-acre parcel where Arosso, A Touch of Sicily is situated – would switch from shopping center to highway commercial zoning.
The change in zoning would allow for the potential relocation of Arosso inside the shopping center and for a Wawa with fuel pumps to be built in its place, the shopping center’s attorney, Julie Von Spreckelsen, told the Supervisors.
Falls Township attorney Lauren Gallagher said gas pumps could be permitted under conditional use. Even if the zoning is changed, Gallagher told the supervisors, “this does not lock any board members or the township in” to approval of a Wawa.
Von Spreckelsen told the board that the roughly 190,000-square-foot shopping center has struggled to maintain occupancies. When the Pathmark closed, the shopping center lost its anchor tenant, as well as two other stores. The property owner made physical improvements to the property, yet still has 60,000 square feet of vacancies. The former Pathmark took three years to fill.
“Shopping centers need to repurpose and they’re trying to find different uses,” she said. “The hope is it will help to boost the viability of the shopping center.”
The supervisors would need to hold a hearing on the zoning ordinance amendment.
Should the zoning change move forward, Von Spreckelsen said it would be the first step in the process.
A minor subdivision, zoning and conditional use approval would all follow, she said.

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