T.J. Maxx work set for May

JOHNSTOWN – Construction of the city’s new T.J. Maxx department store is expected to start in May, with a fall opening in time for Christmas shoppers.

Paul Halliday, representing Johnstown Shopping Center developer Michael Wachs, briefed the city Planning Board on the project Tuesday at City Hall. He said about 30 new full- and part-time jobs are slated to be created.

The board approved a one-year extension on Wachs’ site plan application, which was originally approved a year ago. Approval is contingent upon state approval of a flood plain application.

The only no vote came from board member Lori Salamack, expressing landscaping and traffic concerns.

“We appreciate it,” Halliday said of the approval. “We hope to bring you a fine facility and bring jobs to the area.”

Pennsylvania-based Wachs, owner of the Johnstown Shopping Center and the Johnstown Mall on Route 30A, announced in January 2012 he was going to build an extension to the center to make way for T.J. Maxx.

Based in Framingham, Mass., T.J. Maxx has about 1,000 locations nationwide and sells brand-name family apparel, accessories, shoes, gifts and jewelry at discount prices, according to its website.

Wachs’ Johnstown Comrie Associates is building the new 23,400-square-foot, single-story, steel-frame store next to Romana’s restaurant, on the north end of the shopping center, off Route 30A.

Halliday told the Planning Board the reason the project hadn’t started yet was because Johnstown Comrie Associates was waiting on financing and a final lease signed by T.J. Maxx. He said the project remains the same as originally proposed.

“We’ve been getting the floor plan and interior shell developed,” Halliday said. “Literally, nothing has changed.”

Salamack said plans show construction and a parking area on the south side of the site will eliminate certain landscaping.

She stated: “There are great opportunities for landscaping here. We won’t get hung up on that tonight.”

“We would certainly be willing to put back anything that was comparable that was there,” Halliday said.

Board Chairman Peter K. Smith said there is certain “congestion” at different hours at the Johnstown Shopping Center. He asked about hours of the new store.

“I honestly can’t say specifically,” said Halliday, but he estimated about 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Salamack said she feels there will be a “fairly significant change” to the traffic pattern at that part of the shopping center with the new store. She said she would like to improve the “pedestrian experience” for shoppers, and feels the project falls short of the zoning code.

“I’m disappointed in the plan,” Salamack stated. “But I’m not opposed to the business. I think the business is grand.”

Board member Fredrick Franko said he was “a little less inclined” to worry about landscaping at some new businesses, where trees planted can be hard to maintain. He said the site at the shopping center will be busy anyway.

“That lot is full quite a bit,” Franko said. “You’re going to have a shortage of parking the second you put another tree in there.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.