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New center offers jobs galore

Several big stores, restaurants moving into Chambersburg Crossing

Several big stores, restaurants moving into Chambersburg Crossing

January 21, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Franklin County's 18-month streak of having the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania ended late last year, but it soon could find itself back on top as hundreds of jobs will be created this year by the opening of major retailers and restaurants at Chambersburg Crossing.

The Target department store, scheduled to open March 11, will by itself create about 200 full- and part-time jobs, store manager Greg Wicklem said last week. The retail giant has had a significant presence in the Chambersburg area for several years, employing hundreds of people at the Target Distribution Center.

Most of the supervisory personnel have been hired, and new employees will begin training in the store in early February, Wicklem said. Others will be trained at sister stores, he said.

He said the store is about 137,000 square feet, making it the largest store at Chambersburg Crossing.

A 30,000-square-foot Circuit City electronics store is approaching completion next to Target. David Sciamanna, president of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, said a company official told him several weeks ago the store will open this spring or early this summer.

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Also scheduled for a mid-March opening is PetSmart, which will employ 30 to 40 people in its 22,162-square-foot store, spokeswoman Shana Costarella said. In addition to pet foods, accessories and small pets, the store will offer pet grooming and training and veterinarian services on the premises through its partnership with Banfield, The Pet Hospital, she said.

Staples is scheduled to open March 24, and will employ about 30 people, company spokeswoman Debbie West said. Staples does not plan to close its other Chambersburg store at the Kmart Plaza on Wayne Avenue, she said.

"It's a growing community," and the two stores will mean added convenience for customers, West said.

Giant will open its second supermarket in Chambersburg by this fall, spokeswoman Tracy Pawelski said. The 68,000-square-foot store, approximately the same size as the recently remodeled and expanded Wayne Avenue store, will employ about 200 people, she said.

Giant also will have a fuel kiosk, something the company is considering adding at the Wayne Avenue store, Pawelski said.

Once completely developed, the 46-acre site will have almost 420,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and banking space under roof, and more than 2,000 parking spots, said Phil Wolgemuth, the borough's director of planning.

Other companies that have applied for building permits are Kohl's department store for a 36,000-square-foot building; Michaels for a 22,000-square-foot arts and crafts store; Red Robin restaurant for a 7,130-square-foot eatery; and T.G.I. Friday's for a 6,000-square-foot restaurant.

Four other applications for yet-to-be-named retailers also have been submitted to the borough, Wolgemuth said.

"I think this is a big shot in the arm for the community for several reasons," Sciamanna said. One of those is the growth in the real estate tax base for Chambersburg, as well as the earned income taxes for the Chambersburg Area School District, borough and surrounding townships where most of the workers will reside.

"We're always concerned about people buying local and keeping their money in the community," Sciamanna said.

"This will not just keep money here, but bring new money into the community."

Chambersburg Crossing likely will draw shoppers not just from the Chambersburg area, but much of Franklin County, southern Cumberland County and parts of Adams County, Sciamanna said.

While many of the jobs will be part time, Sciamanna said those create opportunities for people looking to supplement their income and for younger workers.

The job market in Franklin County has been tight for more than three years as the unemployment rate never slipped below second in the state. In November, the latest month for which figures are available, the county slipped to third among the state's 67 counties.

Sciamanna said some people have expressed concerns about traffic along Norland Avenue and Walker Road, but the installation of additional traffic signals and improvements to the intersection of Norland and Fifth avenues will improve safety.

"If there were no jobs, no economic development ... there'd be no traffic," he said.

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