LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Tenants have been leaving the struggling Colonial Park Mall for years. Lower Paxton Township supervisors want to change that and turn the property into something residents can be proud of.
The process started more than two years ago. In summer 2020, supervisors approved a new zoning ordinance specifically for the mall property, creating a framework for the future of the property.
“We want it to be an area where people can come and spend the day,” supervisor Lowman Henry said.
Henry said supervisors had been watching the mall going downhill, following the trend of malls in the Midstate and across the country.
“We were also seeing stores leave the Colonial Park Mall, so we knew that the future was going to have to be something different,” he said.
The mall is privately owned by a few different property owners, but supervisors decided they had to step in somehow.
“This is 40 acres at the gateway to our community, and we’re not just going to sit and watch it rot,” supervisor Chris Judd said.
In 2020, supervisors approved a new zoning ordinance, that only applied to the mall property and aimed to attract developers.
“We have a 40-acre site right at the intersection of two major interstates, it’s prime real estate,” Henry said.
Supervisors say they want redevelopment. The zoning ordinance supports a mixed-use property.
“A little mini Main Street, where you come in, you can park, you can walk, you can shop, you can eat,” Judd said.
Other than retail, the space could include offices, hotels — even apartments. Henry said the variety of options means there will probably be some demolition, but it is really up to the developers.
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“In order to build a Main Street through the property, that’s likely what would have to happen,” he said. “There are also options that they can leave the existing structure there and do development around it.”
Since the ordinance, developers have already shown interest, but any potential developer has to reach an agreement with mall owners, which supervisors said has not yet happened. After an agreement is made, the township’s Planning Commission and supervisors have to approve the redevelopment plan.
“We don’t want to see a piecemeal breaking off of parts of the property, we want to see the entire site redeveloped,” Henry said.
Supervisors said there is not a concrete timeline for any projects to start. They want it to happen as soon as possible, but it all depends on when developers and mall owners can come to an agreement.