A Whole Foods Market could open in Manheim Township in 2018.
Township commissioners last week approved a final subdivision and land development plan for the proposed $130 million Belmont housing and retail project — which includes the market, other retail stores and homes — on farmland just south of Route 30.
Phil Frey, managing partner with developer Manbel Devco, said: “If all goes as planned, we will begin construction this fall and the stores will open in the spring of 2018.’’
"There will also be new single-family homes and townhomes ready for sale in the spring of 2018," he added.
Frey said the approval of the plan for the Shoppes at Belmont and Homes of Belmont on the former Mayer-Hess farm, between the Glen Moore Circle neighborhood and Fruitville Pike, is conditional, pending state environmental and highway permits.
Belmont, proposed in 2011 and revised in 2013, will consist of about 370,000 square feet of commercial space, 74 townhouses and 13 single-family homes.
Initial plans also called for 132 apartments, but those were eliminated after municipal and resident opposition.
Anchoring the retail portion of the project will be the 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market, as LNP reported in November 2014.
Whole Foods will be joined by a soon-to-be-disclosed big-box store, five restaurants and seven small to midsize stores. There also are plans for a seasonal, outdoor farmers' market on a few parking spaces.
The retail portion of Belmont will create nearly 1,000 jobs while Belmont overall will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, Manbel Devco said last year.
Whole Foods is one of two major supermarket chains coming to Lancaster County in the next two years. The other is Wegmans, which hopes to open at The Crossings at Conestoga Creek in 2018 too.
Belmont will involve more than stores and housing.
Road improvements to the property will include two access roads with signals along Fruitville Pike. The first involves expanding an existing intersection at Red Rose Commons; the second is a new intersection 1,000 feet south.
While no road will access Belmont from Lititz Pike or the Glen Moore Circle neighborhood, walking and biking trails will connect the project to an existing bicycle trail and to downtown.
Open space includes a portion of an existing quarry, the Mayer-Hess cemetery (behind Whole Foods), existing lime kilns and floodplains, detention basins, wetlands and a stream. A reconstructed drainage ditch will include native plants.
"It happily includes a permanent easement for the lime kilns and Mayer-Hess cemetery," Commissioner Sam Mecum said after the meeting.
Residents' concerns addressed
At earlier meetings, residents expressed concerns about Belmont’s effect on green space, pedestrian safety and stormwater management.
But at the June 27 meeting, neither commissioners nor residents offered any comment on the project, according to Mecum.
Also of concern was the project’s effect on the Mayer-Hess mansion and barn on the west side of Fruitville Pike, part of the property acquired by Manbel Devco.
In 2012, the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County named the Mayer-Hess mansion and barn one of the top 10 endangered historic properties in the county.
Manbel Devco has said it will preserve and renovate the Italianate-style mansion, built between 1870 and 1874, into offices or a café.
The 65-foot-tall, post-and-beam barn next to the mansion also will be preserved. The barn was dismantled by the operators of Ironstone Ranch in Elizabethtown, who plan to reassemble it for use in their wedding receptions and corporate events business at the ranch, after they move the Star Barn from Middletown to the same property.
Most recently, Manbel Devco soothed the concerns of adjoining Lancaster city over the project’s impact on city traffic and stormwater treatment.
LNP reported Friday that the developer will pay the city $1 million to go into a newly created land bank for the city, after the township did not respond to the city’s request for at least $1.3 million.
Land banks are public authorities that can acquire vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties. The goal is to get properties rehabilitated and back on tax rolls.