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Makeover of Barn Plaza proposed


Big changes are being considered for the Barn Plaza Shopping Center, including razing the shuttered movie theater.

Owners of the sprawling complex along Route 611 in Doylestown Township are asking zoning officials to weigh in on a redevelopment plan that would see demolition of the landmark Barn Cinema to make way for three new buildings, four more restaurants, three retail businesses and a medical office, according to plans submitted last month to the township.

At the other end of the center, Applebee’s, which closed in May, would be replaced with two restaurants and a retail store.

Brixmor Property Group, which owns the property, has not yet named any of the potential new businesses.

The zoning board is expected to review Brixmor’s plans at its Dec. 18 meeting. A long list of variances, including front and rear setbacks, paving and parking, residential buffers, signage, drive-thru standards and more, are being requested.

Work on a Whole Foods grocery store is underway in the center, replacing the Marshall’s and Home Goods. A Barnes & Noble Booksellers is also coming to the revitalizing shopping plaza.

Across the 611 corridor, planners are anticipating a very different type of development. Earlier this year, Evan Stone, director of the Bucks County Planning Commission, said the county is looking for an “innovative” use of the 19-acre, county-owned land near the corner of Almshouse and Easton roads.

“We’d like to transcend a traditional, normal development; we already have plenty of retail and commercial,” said Evans, at the time.

For decades, the property has been home to various county offices, including the planning commission, which is in the historic Almshouse building believed to have been built in 1868. That is the only building on the parcel that cannot be torn down, said Stone.

The Neshaminy Manor nursing home, which closed in 1999, also sits on the property. County officials are seeking a grant to have that razed, the executive director said.

While the site is “underutilized and offers potential opportunity,” the county chose not to simply sell it. Instead, Stone explained, Bucks officials want to partner with a developer who can focus on a “triple bottom line” that includes financial, environmental and social considerations.

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