If Ardmore Transit Center can be built without a new Train Station, could Paoli Transportation Center suffer the same fate?

Question for the Day: Where do you build a new transit center without building the new train station?

Answer:  Apparently in Ardmore.

According to an article by Cheryl Allison in yesterday’s Main Line Times, the latest plan presented for the Ardmore Transit Center includes parking garage, luxury apartments, restaurants and retail shops but no new train station . . . at least not until there is additional public funding. 

The Ardmore Transit Center developer, Carl Dranoff of Dranoff Properties presented his newest plan last week to a subcommittee of Lower Merion Board of Commissioners.  Due to $35 million funding gap on the original transit center plan, Dranoff scaled back his Ardmore Station redevelopment project, and presented his new ‘phased’ approach, which calls for adding a new train station at a later date.

I thought that the impetus for the Ardmore Transit Center project was a new train station.  The project received government funding based on that concept so how is it possible to exclude the train station in the initial phase.  Dranoff thinks that with the addition of private funding to existing public money construction on this $60 million scaled-back phase could start by next year. The new plan calls for adding the train station when additional public funding becomes available in the future. I must be missing something, isn’t this the ‘cart before the horse’?  Shouldn’t the project, the ‘transit’ project, start with the new train station ‘first’ and then add the other components to the train station instead of the other way around?

In addition to deleting a new train station in the initial phase of the Ardmore Transit Center project, the plan includes a dramatic reduction in parking, from 500 spaces to 270 spaces. We know availability of parking is a long-standing problem in Ardmore; will the reduced parking be adequate?

Do not get me wrong, I think that creating a new ‘Main Street’ development concept in Ardmore will revitalize the community and do much for the local business community.  However, how do they rationalize the government money that has already been used in the development phase of the plan, if the project no longer includes the train station component?   Dranoff’s new phased plan calls for a facelift to the existing Ardmore train station, but little else.

In the past, I have drawn comparisons between the proposed Ardmore Transit Center and the Paoli Transportation Center projects.  Looking at Dranoff’s new phase approach to the proposed transit center, I for one would not be pleased if the Paoli Transportation Center took the same direction in its development.

A new train station needs to be the focal point of Paoli’s redevelopment plan; the starting point of the project. Parking, retail, restaurants and office buildings should all be part of the overall concept of the Paoli Transportation Center but as far as I am concerned, without a new train station, there should be no Paoli Transportation Center project.

Speaking of Paoli Transportation Center . . . where do we stand with that project?

Prior posts on Ardmore Transit Center & Paoli Transportation Center:

Septa pulls 10 million in financial assistance from Ardmore Train Station Project, what does this mean for Paoli Transportation Center?

Will Ardmore Transit Centers funding issues impact the future of Paoli Transportation Center?

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4 Comments

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  1. Can you clarify this comment John?

    “One thing to keep in mind that as far as developers are concerned, they only earn money when there is an on-going project. It really doesn’t matter whether it makes sense or not.”

    Developers aren’t interested in projects that don’t make sense. Especially in this day and age. Banks aren’t either.

    [Reply]

    Dave Reply:

    Who’s making those construction loans? Sure ain’t the government.

    [Reply]

  2. No. Bonds are usually issued if the project will remain under the ownership of the government. For a project like the transit center, where there will be large amounts of private investment, private construction loans would be the main financing vehicle. The train station might be financed via bond, but not the office/residential/retail portions of the project.

    [Reply]

  3. This may be a simplistic question, and I don’t have a lot of info on the Paoli project, but as I travel through that area I believe the LAST thing needed is more traffic, more stores, more parking lots. It is already about the most congested part of the western Main Line and I don’t see how a transit center basically wedged into that area will help facilitate anything but more congestion.

    JP — you seem to act as if you really know it all about the Paoli Transit Center, enlighten me.

    [Reply]

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