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By Bill O’Boyle [email protected]
This rendering shows how part of the Phase I retail development of the proposed Valley Crest Commons will look.
Submitted image
Plans for 76-acre site currently in design phase; no firm timeline yet
This site plan map shows the various phases of the proposed Valley Crest Commons retail and commercial development planned for Plains Township. The massive project coming to the former site of the Valley Crest nursing home is moving forward, according to the developer.
Submitted image
PLAINS TWP. — The massive project coming to the former site of the Valley Crest nursing home is moving forward, according to the developer, Robert Tamburro of TFP Limited Real Estate Development and Management.
The 76-acre site, located behind the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Township, has been cleared and a traffic study that will enhance the traffic pattern in the area has been approved by PennDOT.
Tamburro said the land development plan has been submitted to Plains Township and is awaiting approval.
The project is called Valley Crest Commons and the total cost of the project is expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
When the project is completed, Valley Crest Commons will include a shopping center with an anchor store and several retail stores, an entertainment component, such as a theater, and it will also feature restaurants and other amenities yet to be determined.
The parcel site overlooks the convergence of Routes 315 and 309, between the intersection of Mundy Street and Route 315, and Jack Williams Tire, near the Route 309 Cross Valley Expressway.
The parcel is zoned MU (mixed use), which generally permits residential and commercial development.
Valley Crest LP, is listed as the owner of the property, and it proposes to redevelop the site as a shopping center that may include up to 410,000 square feet of retail buildings.
Valley Crest Real Estate LP also proposes new traffic infrastructure in the Valley Crest area to:
• Provide access to the site.
• Improve traffic flow in the Pennsylvania Route 309 and Mundy Street corridors. The site is located approximately one quarter (¼) mile from Wyoming Valley Mall.
It is also less than one mile from the area’s two dominant retail centers — Arena Hub Plaza (438,000 square feet anchored by Lowe’s) and Wilkes-Barre Township Commons (350,000 square feet anchored by Target).
Prominent regional destinations near the site include Mohegan Sun Pocono, Mohegan Sun Arena, Motorworld, and Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.
Valley Crest Real Estate LP purchased the former nursing home from Luzerne County for $2.075 million in 2015 and tore down the asbestos-filled structures to be able to construct a mixed-use residential and business complex called Valley Crest Commons.
Tamburro said the 76-acre development is expected to be mixed-use of retail, residential, business, entertainment and medical buildings.
Tamburro noted that the project also includes resolving several off-site traffic issues that the developer must pay for with PennDOT’s approval.
A 2,278-page Traffic Impact Study was approved by PennDOT, Tamburro said.
“This project is going to open up 76 acres of developable land,” Tamburro said. “And it sits at the crossroads of I-81 and Route 309.”
Tamburro said the location is ideal for developers.
“Development goes where there is opportunity,” he said. “This project is ideal for users who will want to have a footprint in NEPA.”
The Team
Despite not a lot of activity going on at the site to date, Tamburro said all the necessary ground work is nearing completion.
Tamburro credited the area’s legislators on both sides of the political aisle that have supported the project from the beginning.
He also said the project team has worked long hours to get the project moving forward.
Tamburro and his father, Bob Tambur, TFP founder, have been working on the project for several years with team members:
• Jude Cooney and Samantha Zimmerman, both with A+E Group, the civil engineers for Valley Crest Commons.
• Lou Spaciano, Borton-Lawson, lead engineer on the highway project.
• Michael Murray and Brian Goodwin, Metro Commercial, Plymouth Meeting, leasing agents for the project. Tamburro said he has worked with them for 20-plus years on other successful projects.
Project description
• Valley Crest Commons is a 76-acre partially developed property.
• It previously featured a collection of vacant and antiquated buildings totaling 261,000 square feet.
• The property, initially developed circa 1958, was previously owned by the Luzerne County Institutional District. Luzerne County operated a nursing home on the property from 1958 until 2007. Valley Crest Real Estate, LP, the current owner of the property, razed all of the buildings and a water tower in 2021.
• The project is currently in design phase — no timeline has been established regarding groundbreaking and completion date.
Infrastructure plan
Although Valley Crest is in a prime location, Tamburro said the main access point is antiquated, limited in size, and extremely difficult to use.
It meets Pennsylvania Route 309 at a point without a traffic signal. Making matters more difficult, surrounding traffic infrastructure functions poorly. That was confirmed by traffic study data and information produced by Bud Newton, PE of Newton Engineering.
PennDOT approved the traffic study. This new infrastructure will:
• Enhance access to and from the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center.
• Enhance access to and from Mundy Street, a major retail corridor.
• Provide better traffic circulation on Pennsylvania Routes 309/315 and the surrounding area.
Tamburro said the plan does not call for any roundabouts.
The new infrastructure improvements will cost $18.7 million, he added, including engineering. He said grants totaling about $6.3 million have been secured and the developer has matched approximately 30% of those grants. He said he is seeking additional funding support for the infrastructure part of the project.
“We feel we have a tremendous opportunity to do something here for the community,” Tamburro said. “As developers, we have a lot of skin in the game. We are hoping to get more funding to offset the cost to get the highway ready for this new development.”
Getting PennDOT’s approval of the traffic study was essential to move the project forward, Tamburro said.
“We would not be able to access the site for development without that approval,” he said.
Tamburro said once the highway project is lined up, things should start to gel with site development and a timeline will be established for the project.
“A number of obstacles have been overcome,” Tamburro said. “We will continue to work with PennDOT as the highway work is done.”
Tamburro said he expects two additional turning lanes will be created and two new traffic signals will be placed.
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Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.