The ground has now been broken. Next comes the construction.
Gov. Tom Corbett joined U.S. House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster, PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, Palmer officials and others from the region to break ground on the Route 33 Interchange project.
The $40 million project, backed by Charles Chrin Companies, is expected to be completed by late 2014 with construction starting this spring and lasting 16-to-18 months.
"We’re extremely happy to welcome new businesses and new jobs to Palmer Township,” said David Colver, chairman of Palmer Township Board of Supervisors.
Chrin’s development of the surrounding land near Interstate 78 and Route 22 is estimated to create more than 5,000 jobs and generate $16 million in tax revenue annually.
In 2011, the Easton Area School District approved a TIF -- tax incremental financing -- agreement with Chrin in connection with the project.
With a TIF, government entities -- in this case, the district, Palmer Township, and Northampton County -- agree to forgo tax revenue in the short term to get increased revenue down the road.
In return, the Chrin company agreed to give the school district 1.5 percent of all net land sales within the TIF property. The deal caps those contributions to the district at $4 million.
The project touches seven municipalities in Northampton County, including Palmer and Forks Townships, Lower Nazareth and Upper Nazareth townships and the boroughs of Tatamy, Stockertown and Nazareth. It's also near Easton.
"This project is all about connecting business, industry and community," Charles Chrin said. "We are extremely proud to take the lead on this public-private partnership that will have such a large-scale, positive impact on our neighbors."
A substantial portion of the project cost is dedicated to the replacement of a structurally deficient bridge before the interchange on Main Street near State Route 33.
Chrin has approved plans for development of 800 acres around the interchange for manufacturing, distribution, retail and office space.
Upon completion of the interchange, Chrin will donate the 23 acres the infrastructure occupies to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
"Charles Chrin has been a great community partner and we can’t thank him enough for his continued efforts to make our community an even better place to live and work," Colver said.
The first phase of the new development is approved for 1.6 million square feet of build-out, which will create in excess of 1,000 jobs.