THE MERCURY, August 21, 2009 Exeter Commons shopping center is providing township residents and those of surrounding communities with more shopping and dining opportunities closer to home, and with a smoother ride there. “As far as our strategic mapping … looking at Berks County and where existing stores were … this was what we’ll call the hole in the donut,” said Kevin Trapper, senior vice president of the Goldenberg Group, one of the developers. “This was an area that was under-served and under-retailed.” Trapper said many of the shops have opened in July and August, though a grand opening will be held in October after all the stores are open. He said the retail locations will provide opportunities to shop in nationally known stores that are close to home, and it’s something he was excited about. Many of the customers agreed. “It’s close to home,” said Susan Broome of Exeter. “There’s one traffic light and you’re here.” Broome said she considers herself one of the people who is excited about having “more shopping opportunities” with new retailers that have already opened and will be opening through the rest of the summer and fall. Leaving Target with a Starbucks drink in her hand, Broome said the convenience of a Starbucks inside Target was a definite advantage for customers and retailers alike. Trapper said in addition to the shopping opportunity the new stores will create for locals, the improvements to the traffic patterns in the area are something even passing motorists can appreciate. Route 422 in the area was “old and it was being over-taxed by the number of cars using it,” Trapper said. Construction of Exeter Commons allowed the developer to use grants to supplement the funds they put into the traffic improvements, including road widening and additional signals. Of the $18 million total cost for the traffic improvements, Trapper said about $12 million came from grants and the other $6 million was picked up by developers at the Goldenberg Group of Blue Bell and Ironwood Property Group of Conshohocken. Trapper called the traffic project “a really great public-private partnership,” and said it “solved a problem that had existed as far as traffic and safety,” which neither PennDOT or Exeter Township had plans or funds to address in the near future. So once shoppers make their way to Exeter Commons, they have a dozen or so stores and restaurants to check out. In addition to Target, other retailers already open include Five Below, Giant, Famous Footwear, PETCO, Sleepy’s and America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses. Opening soon will be Staples, T-Mobile, GameStop, Supercuts and Lowe’s. Wachovia and Affinity bank branches are also scheduled to open this fall. Chik-Fil-A, Sonic, America’s Drive-In and Red Robin are already open and satisfying the appetites of hungry customers.