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Another Merchant Vacancy Looms In Sanatoga

SANATOGA PA – It’s not a well-kept secret. In fact, owners of the Tri-County Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram auto dealership at 2148 E. High St. (at top), in the heart of the Sanatoga village district, have done pretty much everything they can to publicize and promote their latest news:

They hope to move within only weeks to a new location now under construction for them in Limerick, just west of the Tri-County Toyota dealership at 15 D&L Dr.

The firm’s pending relocation has the potential to be another blow to Lower Pottsgrove’s prime commercial area, which earlier this month saw a different business, the Sunoco gasoline station and convenience store at East High Street and Sunnyside Drive, close its doors.

Unless filled with a new tenant, the dealership vacancy will create a string of unoccupied storefronts and shuttered merchants that stretches for roughly a quarter-mile on the south side of East High, from Heritage Drive east to South Pleasant View Road.

Township officials are aware of the consequences, Manager Ed Wagner noted Wednesday (June 24, 2015). He said they’ve been working in the months since the dealership’s construction plans were announced to ensure that a vacancy, when it finally occurs, doesn’t last long. Wagner recently had another of several conversations with the property’s owner, he added, and alternatives for a new business there – but possibly not a car dealership – are in discussion.

Tri-County has occupied the premises since Fall 2011, having moved to East High under a new name from the former Bermont Motors Inc. dealership on Route 73 in Gilbertsville. It was preceded there by the Driven Auto Plex, and before that by the Norco Auto Group. The property is substantial in size, consisting of a main building of more than 24,000 square feet on more than 6 acres of land.

The township continues to enlist the help of the Montgomery County Development Corp. and its executive director, David Niles, in marketing the village to commercial tenants. A meeting that members of the township Board of Commissioners and Wagner had hoped to have with Niles earlier this month was delayed until July 1 (Wednesday). “That’ll happen,” Wagner said as he checked his calendar.

They also are talking with property marketing representatives of the former K-Mart building in the Sanatoga Village shopping center. Its owners want to lease, not sell, that space, Wagner reported, and said it was his understanding they hope to divide that vacancy into four roughly 20,000-square-foot units to make it more appealing.

The K-Mart has been empty since last September.

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