A New Jersey developer hopes to put a 288-unit luxury apartment complex on 35 acres at Rabenold Lane and Oak Lane in Upper Macungie with an entrance off Werley Road.
Woodmont Properties of Parsippany, N.J. presented its plans to the township Planning Commission Wednesday evening. In 2009, Upper Macungie approved plans by K&M Associates to build the same number of apartment units at the site under the name Rabenold Farms II Apartments. But the project was put on hold.
The new configuration would allow for more clustering of housing units and more open space, according to Stephen A. Santola, Woodmont vice president and general counsel. Woodmont has built a similar complex in Palmer Township off Freemansburg Road. The plan would require Upper Macungie to make some zoning changes.
Santola said the new Upper Macungie plan would have one- and two-bedroom units with nine-foot ceilings, walk-in closets and other amenities. The complex would have a clubhouse, pool, gym, communal grills, and walking paths while preserving 12 acres of open space. The complex would be pet-friendly and have exercise runs for dogs.
“That’s really not your grandparents’ apartment community,” Santola said. “We really encourage the community aspect of living.”
“It’s worked to our benefit because we really have a much lower turnover than you’ll see in other rental communities,” he said.
Rental fees would range from about $1,150 a month for a one-bedroom to $1,400 a month for a two-bedroom. Santola said in similar complexes Woodmont has built, 54 percent of the households have average incomes of more than $70,000.
“We’re not really attracting families, that’s not our market niche,” he said. “We’re seeing one child for probably every 13.5 units in Palmer and Bethlehem. So we’re not overwhelming the Little League or the schools.”
By increasing the number of units per apartment building from 16 to 24, the plan would cut the number of buildings from 18 to 12, Santola said. The land, owned by K&M Associates, is zoned R-5, which is a medium high density residential district.
The proposal would require a zoning change to allow for more units per building and to permit slightly taller buildings. The current zoning law restricts such structures to 35 feet tall or 2.5 stories. The change would permit the buildings to be 48 feet or 3.5 stories.
Kenneth Molony, director of community development, said he had spoken to Fire Commissioner Grant Grim who was concerned about whether the township fire companies would be able to position fire apparatus on the property in order to fight a fire on the top floors of the buildings.
“That’s one of his concerns that there is sufficient room for them to maneuver around,” Molony said.
Planning Commission Chairman David Etowski said the fire commissioner would have to be satisfied that the fire companies could fight any fire at the complex before plans are approved.
Santola said Woodmont would sit down with the fire commissioner and address any design problems. He and other Woodmont representatives answered questions on such issues as the number of entrances to the complex and stormwater.
He told planners that Woodmont has been in business 49 years and has the wherewithal to see the project through.
“We not only know how to do this but we have the internal resources and ability within the financial markets to start it and finish it,” Santola said. “And you don’t have to drive very far, not just in the Lehigh Valley but all on the East Coast, to see communities that are half built, holes in the ground, dirt, mud, soil erosion and you won’t find that anywhere on a Woodmont site.”