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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Feb. 5, 1975, edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 2/5/20

‘Downtown Mall’ to open this yearDowntown Mall is about to find its niche on the retail horizon of downtown Middletown. The 10-unit complex will replace an obsolete and unsightly …

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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Feb. 5, 1975, edition of the Press & Journal


‘Downtown Mall’ to open this year

Downtown Mall is about to find its niche on the retail horizon of downtown Middletown.
The 10-unit complex will replace an obsolete and unsightly industrial structure which once housed the Enduro Enameling Works at Brown and Pine streets.
Ground will be broken within the next two weeks on the mall, which is being built by Leroy Fox and John Branca, both well-known retailers in the downtown district.
It was Branca who gave the borough its newest retail building several years ago when he built and established John’s True Value Home and Auto Center at East Emaus Street and Astor Avenue.
Branca has since sold this structure to Traffic Service Bureau, which will take over July 1. It will not be occupied, however, until remodeling requirements are completed.
Branca said his “new” John’s True Value Home and Auto Center will be the first occupant in the new Downtown Mall, which has been designed by architect Victor J. Segina.
About one-half of the old enamel plant will be demolished to make way for new construction. All remaining exterior surfaces will be covered with brick or stucco effect facing. An overhang with a tile effect will be one of the dominant architectural features. Macadam parking areas will accommodate 84 cars.
All of the retail stores will feature wall-to-wall carpeting, and the mall will have central air conditioning.
There will be 25,000 square feet of space available. Fox and Branca are enthusiastic about the outlook for tenants.
“At this point, it looks very encouraging,” Branca said this week.
Negotiations are underway for a “five-and-10-cent” store, a drugstore and adjoining pharmacy, an ice cream store, a men’s and women’s hair-styling salon, a dry cleaning unit featuring drive-in and pickup service, a men’s clothing and shoe store, news center and hardware store.
Downtown Mall will share contiguous landscaping and walkways with the new high-rise apartment building for the elderly to be constructed by the Interfaith Council on the adjacent property which fronts Mill Street.
Vehicles will be able to enter the Mall from Brown and Poplar streets. Exits will be at these same locations.
One portion of the Mall is targeted for completion by June 1 with occupancy one month later. Building B will also be completed approximately the same time but occupancy will be achieved when tenant specifications are met.
Within the past week, the former Reading Railroad spur line, which once served the old passenger station on Union Street (now site of Homestead Savings Association), was removed. This area will become an entrance and exit point for the new mall.

Groundbreaking at Frey Village this Sunday

Contracts were signed last week by Tressler-Lutheran Associates for the construction of the complete eight-story apartment condominium at Frey Village, former site of the Emaus Orphan Home.
Contracts totaled slightly over $3.8 million, just under the $3.9 million outlay projected earlier.
Frey Village will be primarily a nursing facility open to the entire community. It will have a capacity of 138 nursing beds for both intermediate and skilled nursing and 38 beds for persons capable of self-maintenance with minimal assistance.
These will be in addition to the 58 apartments in the eight-floor high-rise section where residents purchase their own apartments and pay a monthly maintenance fee.
Sale of luxury-type apartments on the seventh and eighth floors was an uncertainty until recently, when in the final stages of planning, there was a surge of interest and enough apartments were bought. At no time was there any uncertainty about the construction of the nursing wings where residents can be maintained on Medicaid payments.
First chance to the nursing beds will be given when needed to the 70 residents of the apartments. After these priorities, facilities will be available to the community.
Initially, the first guests at Frey Village will be the about 30 guests now living at the Camp Hill Lutheran Home.
Attorney Paul Clouser has been appointed chairman of a local fund for furnishings. Construction of Frey Village is expected to take at least 18 months. Ground-breaking ceremonies are planned for this Sunday, Feb. 9, at 4 p.m.

Red tape ‘bite’ limits federal grant, amount borough gets

“When the government says they’re going to give you something — they really give it to you!”
The quote belongs to First Ward Councilman Robert Reid. He uttered it with contempt and much head-shaking at Monday’s special borough council session.
Fellow members nodded with approval as they listened to the fiscal facts as they relate to the proposed first year’s funding under provisions of the Community Development Act of 1974.
The five-year program calls for an allotment of $1.6 million for Middletown. Projections call for $402,000 for the first three years.
But there’s a hitch. Take Middletown’s $402,000. This is what the borough is eligible to receive as long as its program is acceptable to the government.
Council held three public meetings to get public opinion on how the first-year allotment should be spent. But Direction Associates, the professional consultant group hired to administer the program, came up with new figures not previously considered. And they are all in the category of “overhead” expenditures — plain red tape.

Hot buys

• Living Color 8-by-10-inch portrait, 88 cents plus 50 cents handling. Grants, 450 E. Main St., Middletown.
• Presenting the new space saver: All new 1975 Zenith Chromacolor II 19-inch decorator compact console. Modern style with fashionable butcher-block motif. $499. Ron’s TV, Route 230 East, across from the Big M.
Steak sale! Full-cut sirloin, $1.29 a pound. Boneless T-bone, 99 cents a pound. Acme, Mid-Town Shopping Center, Middletown.

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