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Town Center project will change the face of tiny Dublin Borough


More than a decade after Dublin officials began talking about a revitalization plan, six years after approving a detailed blueprint for the borough’s economic and cultural future, and two years after a developer first proposed an ambitious plan to fulfill that vision, the first tangible signs of progress are coming into focus.

Workers this week scrambled to put the finishing touches on The Square (formerly the Dublin TEC Center), a 20,000-square-foot, two-story former pants factory that includes a coffee shop, retail vendors, health and wellness services, professional offices and a wine bar. A Grand (Re)Opening is scheduled for Friday.

But The Square is only the first step in a massive project designed to breathe new life into the tiny Bucks County borough. Situated on about 17 acres along heavily traveled Route 313, the $22 million Dublin Town Center project includes new commercial construction, renovations to existing buildings, and dozens of new townhouses.

When it is finally complete in a couple of years, the project is expected to transform Dublin Borough from a dot on the map commonly associated with State Police and the Department of Motor Vehicles center to a regional draw for food, drink and entertainment. Dublin Mayor Chris Hayes said the project aligns perfectly with the long-range Revitalization and Visioning Plan borough council approved in June 2013, after seeking input from residents and business owners about how they would prefer to see Dublin develop over the next 20 years.

The consensus was they wanted Dublin to provide residents with a “sense of place through community design” and for the borough to become “an authentic walkable historic Bucks County community.”

As far as Hayes in concerned, the Town Center project does just that.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Dublin Borough,” said Hayes, who has been mayor for the past 10 years.

Developers Rob Loughery and Steve Gilmore saw Dublin’s strategic location between Doylestown and Quakertown as a perfect location to propose their plan for a project designed to build a walkable town center, a place for people to congregate and build community, just as the borough’s vision called for.

“We saw the opportunity for mixed-use development and a town center as critical components and this aligned with the borough’s plans,” said Loughery, a Bucks County Commissioner.

Adjacent to The Square, work on Station 23, a former gas station that dates to 1923, is expected to begin in January, according to spokeswoman Jessica Jackson.

Station 23 will include the Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co. in one of the station’s former work bays, while Backyard Beans, a Lansdale coffee roaster, and a food court with vendors serving lunch and dinner will occupy the remainder of the 5,500-square foot building, she said.

Next to Station 23, on the site of the former Bucks County Bank building, the developers are performing site work for a 15,000-square-foot medical arts building that will be constructed and operated by Grand View Hospital, said Jackson. Another portion of the plan calls for a new 15,000-square-foot, mixed-use building with retail spaces on the first floor and a total of 30 apartments on the second and third floors, she said.

The developers have also acquired and are operating the Dublin Diner, according to Jackson, and extensive renovations are planned. A 70-unit townhouse development along Elephant Road is expected to begin construction in the spring, she said.

Extensive marketing research suggests that Dublin and surrounding municipalities will support the products and services offered within the town center, said Jackson. By next spring, they hope to offer First Friday events, a Farmers Market, and other community-focused events to give residents and visitors alike a reason to visit the town center, she said.

“There is nothing like it between Doylestown and Quakertown where people can eat and hang out while they listen to music and have fun,” said Jackson, a Dublin resident. “We have a unique opportunity to build a town center from the ground up without the confines some other towns might have.”