Developer eyes retail desert in Dingman Township

By Beth Brelje, Pocono Record Writer, THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2014

The man behind three Bartonsville retail developments is planning a major shopping-office-residential complex on Route 739 in Dingman Township.

Developer Jim DePetris of Plymouth Meeting-based DEPG Development Associates has confirmed that his company recently signed an agreement to buy more than 200 acres on Route 739 near the intersection of Log Tavern Road.

The land is on the same side of the road as the Dingman Delaware school complex.

The agreement is so new that it has not yet been presented to township officials, DePetris said.

He envisions the project happening in three phases.

The first phase will include the construction of 70,000 square feet of retail space for a supermarket and 10 to 15 retail stores.

The next phase will bring professional and medical offices. And a third phase will include some residential buildings, perhaps senior housing or townhouses, DePetris said.

Monroe track record
The work of DEPG Development Associates is well known to shoppers in Monroe County.

DEPG is responsible for three popular projects on Route 611 in Stroud Township, including the Dick’s Sporting Goods complex, Sonic drive-in restaurant and the strip mall with Moe’s Southwestern Grill and Sleepy’s mattress store.

“We had a vision there 12 years ago, and we have the same vision in Dingmans Ferry,” DePetris said.
“We do a good product. We work well with municipalities.”

No stores have been named yet because the project is so new, but DePetris said he has some prospects and that he met with Mike Sullivan, head of the Pike County Economic Development Authority.

“He was very encouraging. We feel there is a real need here for a supermarket,” DePetris said.

Underserved area
Sullivan said there is a $32.6 million market for a grocery store in the area.

To get that number, Sullivan crunched 2013 census figures and found that in 2013 the average household spent $5,024 on groceries.

There are some 9,500 homes within a radius that would use a grocery store in Dingman Township. To be conservative, Sullivan counted just 6,500 homes and multiplied that number by a household’s yearly grocery spending.

Much of that shopping is now done outside of Pike, Sullivan said.

In addition to groceries, there are other categories of spending showing that per capita retail spending is lower than it should be in Pike.

According to the latest, 2007 census figures, per capita retail spending in Pennsylvania was $13,323, but in Pike County it was $6,847. With limited shopping in the county, residents spend elsewhere.

By contrast, the 2007 per capita spending in New York was $11,879, but in Orange County, where there are malls and lots of stores, per capita spending was $15,228.

More stores, more spending.

While a grocery store may be welcome news for residents who are currently driving more than 15 miles for a carton of milk, the prospect of being able to buy clothing in the county could have an additional economic benefit.

“Pike County may currently not offer the range of options needed for suits and dresses, and therefore we know many people shop in neighboring counties. Apparel shopping is important, because when people shop for apparel, they don’t necessarily buy apparel, but they do other spending,” Sullivan said. “Apparel attracts people from a distance.”