John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Parking & Traffic in the Village at Newtown

Parking & Traffic in the Village at Newtown

Village at Newtown Center

The Village at Newtown "Shopping" Center is currently in the final phase of a 35 million dollar makeover that Brixmor Property Group - the owner - hopes will revitalize the center. The plan is shown above.

Yes, parking and traffic in the Center has been a mess for some time. Will things improve once construction is complete or will parking and traffic remain problems after all is said and done?

I don’t know if there is a DEFINITIVE answer to that question, but I do believe there are signs that all will be well in the Center eventually.

At least that seems to be the opinion of Allen Fidler, Chair of the Newtown Planning Commission Definition although he acknowledges that not everyone will be happy in the end.

In response to a resident’s comments at the May 8, 2019, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Mr. Fidler recounted the history of this project and explained the ultimate goal of Brixmor, the company that owns and manages the Center. Listen to this podcast:

Meanwhile, the renovation in the McCaffery's Food Market section of the Village at Newtown "Shopping" Center is essentially complete. On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, around 1:30 PM I drove through the area entering where the new Bank of America building and Starbuck's are located. There was no traffic problem and parking was plentiful. View the video:

Section #1 (Bank of America and a small office building; see plan above) will be completely redeveloped. Pre-existing buildings have already be removed and new shops will be built closer to Durham Road. Many of these have already been approved by the BOS. This is the primary location for an estimated additional 58,000 square feet of retail space (they will also be new space added to section #3.

History of Parking Variances

The Newtown Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB Definition) approved the parking plan on October 16, 2016. In attendance and voting for the plan were: Chairman Timothy Potero, Vice Chairman Michael Iapalucci, Secretary Robert Whartenby and members Shawn Ward and Brandon Wind. According to the minutes of the Omeeting: "There had been relief in 1991 for parking ratio. The existing variance [as of October 2016] is 5.5 spaces. The applicant is seeking 4.7 spaces per 1000 square feet of retail [which was approved by the ZHB]." Before the renovation there were 1007 spaces and the new plan shows 1065 spaces. 

At the ZHB meeting, the architect on the project said he has "spent a lot of time observing the center and noting customers’ behavior. Many customers come in and park, walk directly to the shop they are going to and go back and move the car rather than walk to their next stop, even within the same section. The proposed changes to the pedestrian accesses will encourage shoppers to walk from one destination to another." This is the "walkability" concept that has often been discussed at recent BOS meetings. For more about that, view the video below:

Dan Disario, traffic engineer for Brixmor, testified that there has been a "decrease in peak demand for shopping center parking in recent years and that standard need is 3 spaces per 1000 square feet. For this shopping center, extensive studies and counts have been conducted during lunch and dinner hours on Fridays and Saturdays in May, September, and November of 2015 and in September of 2016. Over 56 hours of counts have been conducted at fifteen minute intervals. The peak for the entire center, all four sections, was on Saturday, September 21 at 1:45 PM, when 458 vehicles occupied the 1007 parking spaces for only fifteen minutes. There have been a number of comments about difficulty with parking in lot #4 on weekend evenings. On Friday, September 2 at 5:54 PM the highest demand was 3.5 vehicles per 1000 square feet. Mr. Disario said that all calculations have considered the current unoccupied space and the projected numbers for full occupancy."

The goal for this redevelopment is a mix of retail and restaurant uses that complement each other. Shoppers window shop then stop to eat. No tables are available right now at your restaurant? Then sit outside in the amphitheatre for a few minutes or explore the other stores in the mall and come back 30 minutes later.

“An emphasis on fine dining and events is also helping to make malls the hub of the local community – a place to share quality time with friends and family… It is critical that malls be about much more than stores.” Source: “The Future of the Shopping Mall”; https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/the-future-of-the-shopping-mall [accessed June 6, 2019]

It is essential to his business success of Brixmor that it correctly planned for adequate parking. If there is inadequate parking the businesses will suffer. 

Posted on 06 Jun 2019, 13:27 - Category: Development

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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