6 months after being hit with vacancies, Airport Road shopping center at standstill

Six months into at least six storefronts going vacant, what’s to come at the Airport Road Shopping Center continues to remain a mystery.

The complex in the 1800 block of Airport Road bordering Hanover Township, Lehigh County, and Allentown faced its first two major vacancies even prior to the coronavirus pandemic shutdown in March 2020. Firehouse Subs closed in February 2019 due to a personal decision by the franchisee and it’s neighboring tenant, Zoup!, closed that September.

There were some initial plans to fill those two spots with possibly a single tenant but it appears the pandemic stalled that proposal. Adam Goodman, a partner at Goodman Properties, which owns, manages and leases Airport Center, told The Morning Call newspaper in October 2019 there were then plans for a tenant to knock down the wall separating the two buildings. Goodman then stated he was in final talks with the tenant over a lease agreement.

In recent weeks, however, the empty vacancies left by Firehouse Subs and Zoup! remained with just a lone Verizon Wireless store continuing to operate at the end of that section of the center. There’s been no indication of any construction at either the Zoup! or Firehouse Subs buildings for nearly two years.

Goodman Properties also has not returned multiple requests for information from lehighvalleylive.com in over a year. Vicky Roth, clerk in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, said both the township planning commission and zoning hearing board have nothing current on the books for the shopping center.

“I have no permits on my desk for them at this time,” Roth told lehighvalleylive.com Wednesday.

Melissa Wehr, township manager and zoning officer, was not in the office this week to provide additional information or comment.

Aside from Firehouse Subs and Zoup!, the mall has at least four other vacancies.

Visitors will find closures at the sites of A.C. Moore; SneakerKing, previously housed next to Kay Jewelers; Roma Ristorante, previously housed between Game Stop and Mattress Firm; and Sprint, previously housed between Panera Bread and Great Clips.

A.C. Moore announced in November 2019 it would be closing all 140 of its stores. The chain then stated about 40 of its locations would eventually be replaced by retail chain Michaels. The store in recent weeks, however, remained shuttered at Airport Road shopping center with no sign of Michaels moving in.

SneakerKing, one of the largest independent full-service footwear retailers, announced its struggles even prior to the March shutdown. The chain shuttered at the shopping centerl in September 2020 with company owner Jack Beccaris then telling the Tri-County Independent changing times and business models strained the way shoes are sold. Models shifting to online purchases and vendor restrictions on inventory impacted day-to-day store sales, he had said.

Roma Ristorante owners took to Facebook in early summer 2020 to express sorrow after closing the eatery with more than a decade in business. They cited the coronavirus pandemic as a reason behind it. Sprint relocated to another nearby location as a result of its company merger with T-Mobile.

Fine Wine & Good Spirits in January relocated from Allentown’s Airport Plaza to the Airport Road Shopping Center. An employee who answered the phone Wednesday said Fine Wine filled a vacancy left by a previous bicycle shop.

Who’s in:

Some of the major retailers remaining at the Airport Road Shopping Center include A Plus nail salon, Famous Footwear, Five Below, GameStop, GNC, Golf Galaxy, Fine Wine & Good Spirits, Great Clips, Kay Jewelers, Mattress Firm, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Omaha Steaks, Ross Dress for Less, T-Mobile, Wells Fargo Bank, Verizon Wireless, Sam’s Club, Target, Starbucks, Ulta Beauty, Christmas Tree Shops, Old Navy, Carter’s, DSW, On the Border, Five Guys, Panera Bread, Chipotle, MOD Pizza, and Miller’s Ale House.

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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at [email protected].