SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A major development project in the Poconos is moving one step closer thanks to a recent financial boost. Governor Tom Wolf recently announced developers will receive more than $2 million to support the Smithfield Gateway Project in Marshalls Creek.
Before the project can get underway, the nearby Routes 209 and 447 first need major improvements, which will cost $7 million. Developers received about $1 million from a gaming grant, and last week learned they’re receiving more than $2 million more from PennDOT.
Tucked behind the busy Route 209 in Marshalls Creek sits a quaint, former dairy farm. Soon it will be knocked down for Smithfield Gateway, a massive development project
“This is going to be a big project. Its a game changer economically for the region,” says Jim DePetris, CEO of Legend Properties Inc.
Jim DePetris is CEO of Legend Properties and General Partner of DEPG Associates, the company leading the project. Over the past 2 years, developers acquired 5 parcels of land, including the dairy farm, which former owner Charlie Kirkwood gladly sold. Kirkwood is a big supporter of Smithfield Gateway.
“It’s a very good location coming off of I-80. Essentially it’s actually the first exit coming over from New Jersey,” says Charlie Kirkwood, Shawnee Inn President.
The 120 acres acquired will soon become:
-240 high end apartments,
-300,000 square feet of retail space,
– 100,000 feet of office space,
– and a supermarket.
“Fabulous project. When you look at it, its going to offer so much to our community,” says Bob Phillips, President/CEO of Great Pocono Chamber of Commerce.
But the plans couldn’t come to life without first improving the surrounding roadways.
DePetris adds, “as everyone knows, Route 209 is a very dangerous road in terms of traffic, theres only two lanes, its very difficult to make a turn from either side.”
A PennDOT grant will help pay for those improvements. Developers are expanding the lanes, adding a left turning lane, and building a loop road connecting Route 209 to Route 447.
Developers and local leaders say these small fixes contribute to a much larger project.
“I’ll tell you what, this is a step in the right direction right now,” Phillips adds.
There’s still a long way to go, but developers expect to break ground for the Smithfield Gateway Project next summer.
The road improvement grant for this project is part of a larger grant package Governor Wolf announced last week. PennDOT has awarded $40 million in total for highway, bike and pedestrian projects across Pennsylvania.