Town center planned for Birdsboro

Photo by John Strickler St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Birdsboro has sold five acres of land, to be developed into a town center, complete with a grocery store. The land is located off of Furnace and First streets.
Photo by John Strickler St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Birdsboro has sold five acres of land to a private developer for the construction of a small town center and grocery store.

If everything falls into place, Birdsboro may have a town center, complete with a 25,000-square-foot grocery store and “additional complementary shops.”

Birdsboro Borough Councilman Steve Lusky issued a statement Thursday about the proposed development on behalf of borough council and Mayor Robert M. Myers.

According to the statement, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 5 Brooke Manor has entered into an agreement of sale with MB Investments of Audubon to sell five of nine acres the church owns off West 1st and South Furnace streets.

“We were approached by council around spring... and went through the discussion as a church,” Hank Limper, member of council for St. Mark’s, said. “We don’t see a downside to agreeing to the sale.”

Limper said when the Birdsboro IGA grocery store closed, it caused a “hardship for the Birdsboro population.”

With the congregation of St. Mark’s growing older, maintaining nine acres of property is becoming more difficult. Council said “it’s a win-win” for both the community and the church as it will provide Birdsboro with a grocery store with 50 - 80 potential jobs, will create an added tax base, and reduces maintenance responsibilities for the church. Council “see[s] this as an exciting new chapter for Birdsboro.”

MB Investments is a Pennsylvania general partnership and the real estate investment arm of J. P. Mascaro & Sons, one of the largest waste disposal firms in the country, also based in Audubon.

“The intent of the sale is to create a small town center for the residents of Birdsboro and its immediate neighbors,” Lusky said. “The hallmark of the center will be a 25,000-square foot grocery store with additional complimentary shops. Several local grocery chains have shown intense interest in the project.”

Lusky had no additional information and provided no specific details about the sale, the project or the grocery stores that may be interested in coming into the borough. He added that officials expect to have more information about the sale and the project within the next several weeks.

“This project is the culmination of many years of effort to find a willing and capable developer to bring a first class grocery store to the Borough of Birdsboro,” Lusky quoted from the statement.

Bill Fox is lead counsel for MB Investments and JP Mascaro & Sons. He said the company has always had a good working relationship with the borough.

“It was made known to us that they need a supermarket in Birdsboro,” he said. “With the right piece of land we can develop one for the borough and we’re happy to do it. It appears this piece of property will work well.”

Fox added that the project will need to move through the land development process, but he does not anticipate any issues.

In recent months, the effort to bring a grocery store to the borough has received some heightened attention. In January, Myers launched a petition drive to locate a grocery store at the site of the former Birdsboro Market on Chestnut Street, which closed in 2011, with many of the borough’s 5,200 residents signing the petition.

Myers had previously said that locating a grocery store in the borough brings with it the potential for as many as 80 jobs, along with the convenience of being able to shop close to home. The nearest supermarkets are located in Douglassville and Exeter.

Ultimately, Myers said the original site was too small for a grocery store. A second location was not available to be purchased, so an alternative site had to be located.

“The private investor, MB Investments, subsequently had discussions with the church, and the sale of that land was negotiated,” he added. “I’m pleased with how things are progressing, although we haven’t crossed the finish line yet. I’ll breathe a sigh of relief when we have a definite commitment that a full service grocery store will be built in Birdsboro,” Myers said.

The property is bordered by West 1st Street, Cowpath Lane, South Furnace Street and Office Street.

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