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Northampton County News

River Pointe developer's tax incentives to remain in place after all

Northampton County Courthouse, Easton, Pa.,
Donna S. Fisher
For LehighValleyNews.com
Northampton County Courthouse in Easton, Northampton County, Pa. in January, 2023.

EASTON, Pa. – A property tax break will remain in place for parts of Upper Mount Bethel Township set to become River Pointe Logistics, an expansive industrial park, after Northampton County Council declined to repeal the program Thursday.

County council voted in April to extend Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) incentives for much of the industrial-zoned land in Upper Mount Bethel Township through 2028, allowing developers to pay no county property tax on what they build in the project’s first year.

Each year after, the developer pays an additional 10% of their tax bill, reaching 100% at year 11. Property owners still pay taxes on the original unimproved value of the land they build on.

County Executive Lamont McClure initially vetoed the five-year extension; council voted 6-3 weeks later to override his veto.

McClure said Thursday he intended to replace the repealed incentive program with a more tailored version offering more control over what is constructed on LERTA-covered land.

His proposal would have tied the tax breaks to specific projects rather than to plots of land by only allowing a landowner to apply for the program after receiving township building permits.

Hunter Kessell, a senior associate with commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield working with River Pointe, said Thursday his company is helping multiple companies secure sites for manufacturing facilities ranging from 1-1.5 million square feet.

As a result, he said, county officials would know exactly what projects they were incentivizing when they granted or withheld approval.

“I believe Mr. Pektor wants to bring manufacturing to this site in Upper Mount Bethel Township. But there's another concept from national politics that we need to remember, and that's ‘trust but verify,’” said McClure. “That's what our replacement ordinance does.”

McClure has claimed that because many of the structures proposed for River Pointe are larger than 250,000 square feet, they are destined to become warehouses.

The developer behind the project, Lou Pektor, has long said he plans for the site to host manufacturing and will be able to attract major investment because of access to rail, water, and ample electricity on the site.

Crayola’s largest Lehigh Valley factory, in Forks Township, covers 460,000 square feet; Just Born’s Bethlehem facility covers roughly 500,000. Large-scale factories like those building cars can include more than 5 million square feet under one roof.