The Planning and Zoning Commission will hear a proposal for a dialysis center to occupy the former Pelton's Drug Store at the intersection of Main and William Streets. The proposal is from the Da Vita Corporation, a Fortune 500 Company, which bought the dialysis center now located in the Riverview Center. The application materials and city staff comments are available.
The former Pelton's building is owned by Pjc Realty Corporation of Harrisburg, PA, who bought it for $1.4M in May of 2004. According to an opinion piece in today's Middletown Press by Larry McHugh, president of the Chamber of Commerce, a company called Centerplan Development has committed to an "investment of over $2M to purchase and renovate the building." McHugh writes that the Da Vita Corporation will also invest almost $2M for improvements to the building if their application is approved.
Da Vita proposes to use 9,500 square feet of the building for the dialysis center, 2,500 square feet for office space, and 2,000 square feet for retail. The retail would be half of the frontage on Main Street, immediately adjacent to the Armory Hotel. Da Vita is required to obtain a special exception from the Commission, for using Main Street frontage for a non-retail use. The project also requires from Planning and Zoning a waiver of parking requirements.
The director of the Planning Department, Bill Warner, in his comments to the Commissioners, recommends approval of the special exception and parking waiver, with some conditions. He frames the issue as balancing development with a desire to have retail on Main Street, "Does the 2,000 sq.ft. of retail on Main Street and the significant improvement of the facade and investment in the building ($4 million) offset the less desirable 40 feet of building frontage devoted to the corporate office space?"
Warner argues that a building of this size does not have the necessary parking for a major retailer, and he is concerned that the building would sit vacant, or attract less desirable uses, if this proposal is denied:
"There is real value in new investment, street activity and occupied buildings. The market in downtown is not strong enough to turn away a $4 million investment in a prominent Main Street building. The special exception tool has forced the developer to include retail on Main Street and make significant improvements to the building. The process has worked, I recommend approval."
The Chamber of Commerce's McHugh is strongly in favor of the proposed dialysis center on Main Street, "...we must look to organizations from other sectors [besides restaurants] that, too, have the ability to enhance the quality of our downtown area." McHugh expresses pride in the size of the corporation that is investing in Middletown:
It is important to give a brief sketch of the Da Vita Corporation to truly illustrate what a tremendous asset it would be to our downtown area. Da Vita is one of the two largest providers of dialysis services in the world.
Again, the world.
The Planning and Zoning Commission meets for their bi-monthly meeting on Wednesday at 7PM. The Da Vita Corporation application is the only item under the public hearing portion of the meeting, which is at the beginning of the meeting.