Paoli Transportation Center

Paoli Transportation Center Project Takes Big Steps Forward – A Letter-of-Interest Request Issued by Tredyffrin Township and Request-for-Proposal Issued by SEPTA!

Plans Afoot For Troubled Paoli Rail Yard, Can It Become A Transportation Center With Buses And Better Parking?”

This Philadelphia Inquirer headline above was not written this week, this month, this year — no, the article is seventeen years old, dating from September 14, 1994!

This years-old Inquirer article focused on the possibility of turning the “problematic Paoli rail yard into a sophisticated intermodal transportation center” which would accommodate “a transportation center, complete with buses and improved parking.” Can it be that the dream, this vision for the future may still be possible?  Maybe so.

At the last Board of Supervisors Meeting, I was disappointed that the supervisors did not update on the process of the Paoli Transportation Center.  There had been previous discussion about an upcoming issuance of a Request-for-Proposal (RFP) on the N. Valley/Central Avenue road and bridge improvement project (part of the Paoli Transportation Center project) and I was seeking an update — specifically was an RFP issued?  If so, what was the status, how many bidders, due date, etc.

Many of us have followed the saga of the train station for years, and remain interested in the progress (if any) on the project.  My intention in asking for an official public update was certainly not to step on the toes of either the township staff or our elected officials, but just to seek information.  What’s the old adage, “Ask and ye shall receive”? I was asking the questions, but I guess I wasn’t asking the right way or to the right people.

Although not listed on the township website, I discovered with some Internet research that the Tredyffrin Township Engineering Department has issued a ‘Letter of Interest’ for the “Paoli Road Improvement Project – Feasibility Study and Public Involvement Program”. According to the township’s Letter of Interest request, all phases of the Feasibility Study will be 100% state funded and that the township is encouraging responses from small firms and firms that have not previously done work for the township.

The township’s public Letter of Interest advertisement gives the full solicitation details on the Paoli Road Improvement Project and includes the following:

Tredyffrin Township Letter of Interest Request:

Paoli Road Improvement Project – Feasibility Study and Public Improvement Program

Tredyffrin Township will retain a PADOT qualified engineering and public involvement consultant team to provide a feasibility study and public involvement and outreach program to assess the traffic, roadway, infrastructure and community stakeholder needs, and identify potential alternatives for the existing local and PADOT roadway network located in Paoli, in the vicinity of S.R. 0030 (Lancaster Avenue), E./W. Central Avenues, Paoli Pike/ Greenwood Avenue, Darby Road, Plank Avenue and N./S. Valley Roads. The Township seeks a feasibility study that provides cost effective alternatives to allow for traffic calming, streetscape, intersection modification, and signal timing adjustments to address existing congestion and public safety concerns while providing for the needs of motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, rail users and the overall vision for a multi-modal Paoli.

Alternatives included in the feasibility study should emphasize solutions that meet current PADOT design and safety standards, and the local stakeholder and Township vision for the Paoli Transportation and Town Center Districts. In addition to the Feasibility Study, an intensive coordinated public outreach and stakeholder involvement process must parallel the identified Feasibility Study phases to ensure final recommendations have been thoroughly discussed, stakeholder input received while ultimately working toward a consensus on roadway improvements for consideration and prioritization for future design and construction phases of the project.

The township’s Letter of Interest words, “. . .  intensive coordinated public outreach and stakeholder involvement process . . .” aligns with my request that the public remain ‘in the loop’ and informed on the process of this important community project.

The list of companies already registered to submit a Letter of Interest to the township on the Paoli transportation project is impressive!  To date, 50+ companies have registered, including local companies from Wayne, Malvern, West Chester, Collegeville, Exton and Kimberton and several companies from Lancaster, Gettysburg, New Jersey and Delaware.  Source Management Onvia of Seattle, Washington has also registered to bid the project!  Letters of interest are due by bidders to the township by 2 PM on September 15, 2011. It is my understanding that registration does not necessarily imply that all registered companies will submit a Letter of Interest.

According to the Letter of Interest advertisement by the township, the evaluation and selection process by Tredyffrin Twp is:

For the purposes of negotiating a contract, the ranking of a minimum of three (3) firms will be done directly from the Letters of Interest. Technical proposals will not be required prior to the ranking. Only the top three (3) firms will be requested to prepare technical proposals. The top three (3) firms will then be ranked based off the Technical Proposal and the top firm will be requested to submit a cost proposal.

In another big step for the Paoli Transportation Center project, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has issued a Request-for-Proposal, Proposal Number 11-091-DMH for qualified “Consultants for Architectural/Engineering Services for Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center”.

SEPTA’s A&E Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center RFP description states:

Consultant services include, but are not limited: the development of construction documents (plans and specifications) for the construction of the Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center in accordance with the scope of work of this RFP and in full compliance ADA and other governing authorities.   The deadline for proposals is September 7, 2011.

The issuance of a Letter of Interest by Tredyffrin Twp and a Request-for-Proposal from SEPTA is positive and encouraging news for the community on the Paoli Transportation Center project and marks real progress in this long journey.

As Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

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Tredyffrin Township Needs an Economic ‘Call for Action’ From its Elected Officials

Nearly 6 months ago on February 2, 2011, I wrote a post called, Another Store Closing in Tredyffrin . . . A Suggestion for a Business Task Force’.  The post detailed another store closing its doors; at the time, it was Tuesday Morning.  This post was written immediately following the supervisor interviews for the appointment of an interim supervisor (to fill vacated Warren Kampf’s seat).  One of the reasons I wrote the post was that I was struck by the fact that in the interview process, all the supervisor candidates listed economic development as one of the most important issues facing the township. Here is an excerpt from the February 3, 2011 post on Community Matters:

In light of the many empty storefronts in the township, the supervisors listed attracting new businesses at the top of the challenge list. I agree that encouraging new business growth is essential but equally important, is how can we support the businesses that we have?

I wonder if a township business task force would help . . . a volunteer group of local retired executives, small business owners, and corporate representatives. The group would meet monthly with a mission to spearhead ways to improve existing relationships and provide assistance and a resource for township businesses. This important support group for the business community could provide regular updates and suggestions to the Board of Supervisors. Just an idea . . .

Subsequent to this post, I had further discussions with several of the township supervisors on the creation of a task force to help our small businesses and to encourage new corporate business development in the township.  At the April 4, 2011 Board of Supervisors meeting, supervisor Phil Donahue made a motion for an ‘Economic Development Committee’, which would include himself and supervisors Michelle Kichline and Mike Heaberg.  The motion was seconded by supervisor Paul Olson and passed unanimously.  Here are the relevant township minutes from the supervisors meeting which detailed the committee:

Mr. Donahue made a motion to form an Economic Development Committee, to pull together information, gather facts, and begin a dialog putting our best foot forward and creating the right environment for Tredyffrin. Mr. Olson seconded the motion.

Ms. Kichline said she, Mr. Donahue and Mr. Heaberg would recruit members of the business community and surrounding regions to serve on the committee, which would advise the entire Board on the role and scope for where we want to go with large and small businesses. Mr. Heaberg said we are looking for creative strategic thinkers in the community.

Resident Carlotta Johnston-Pugh said she didn’t see a lot of diversity in the community and thought this would bring more companies to the Township as well as residents. Mr. Donahue said the first step will be having an opportunity to discuss ideas like that with residents.  At the end of discussion, motion passed.

It has been 4 months since the supervisors  passed the motion to create the Economic Development Committee.  I attend all the supervisors meetings and in checking meeting minutes, I could find no  further reference to this committee. Understanding that there may be ‘behind the scenes’ movement on the Economic Development Committee my supervisors, I would still ask what is the status of the committee?  Besides supervisors Donohue, Kichline and Heaberg, who are the members of the committee?  How often do they meet and what is their mission?

In my early discussions with supervisors, I had suggested that the committee needed to include a balance of small business owners, corporate representatives and interested members of the community.  As a small business owner and former member of the Paoli Business & Professional Association Board of Directors, like many other residents, I have a stake in the development and encouragement of our business community.  As is the case in many parts of this country, we have seen little improvement in our economic climate and our community needs a grassroots effort to help our businesses succeed and to encourage new growth and development. 

I was prompted to write today’s post by an article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, www.bizjournals.com . Newtown Borough in Bucks County is looking at various ways to help their struggling businesses and will hold a roundtable discussion to brainstorm ideas.  Council members in Newtown are optimistic that the roundtable will open up communication between the residents, business owners and elected officials.  I was optimistic that Tredyffrin’s Economic Development Committee would provide a similar type of forum for our community that would include residents, corporate representatives and small business owners in the discussion.

It is so disheartening to hear of more and more businesses failing – leaving empty office buildings and storefronts in the wake.  In addition to an update on the Economic Development Committee, I would also like a status report on the Paoli Transportation Center.  A few weeks ago, I wrote of the train station and was given the impression from our State Rep Warren Kampf, Willistown, and Tredyffrin township supervisors that the transportation center remains a priority.  If the project is a priority, I believe that the community should expect an update.

Economic development in Tredyffrin Township needs to be more than political campaign promises . . . the decline of our business community is a serious issue and we need help to stabilize and save our community.  Should we hold our elected officials accountable?  Or, . . . do you think that the severity of the economic situation is beyond the scope of township supervisors?  Can local officials make a difference with our local economic climate?  My answer to the last question — is that they need to try. 

With last week’s unexpected closing of Jake’s Frozen Custard in Paoli after only 10 months, I was again reminded of the fragileness of our economic environment.  Our elected officials – local and state – need to help save our existing small businesses and encourage development and growth of new business in the township.  These are not passing problems that somehow time will magically erase.  Previously, I volunteered to serve on the Economic Development Committee and I am confident I could get many more to help – we just need direction.

The next Board of Supervisors meeting is on Monday, August 15.  I am sending a copy of this post to our township supervisors and State Representative requesting that the community receive an update on the Paoli Transportation Center project and on the township’s Economic Development Committee. I am asking for an economic ‘call for action’ from our elected officials.

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Paoli Transportation Center . . . “Top Priority for Willistown Township” so says Supervisor Norman MacQueen

As part of the update on the Paoli Transportation Center project, Norm MacQueen, the chair of Willistown Township’s Board of Supervisors, responded to my request – see his response below. 

The success of the Paoli Transportation Center effort is dependent on the cooperation and good working relationship of staff and elected officials in Willistown and Tredyffrin townships.  MacQueen’s message that the project continues to be a “top priority for Willistown Township” echos the sentiments of Tredyffrin’s supervisors. 

Here’s hoping that the Paoli Transportation Center project starts picking up momentum to the finish line . . . !

Pattye,

I can’t speak to the projects in Downingtown and Ardmore, or how they might affect Paoli, but I can assure you that the Paoli Transportation Center remains a top priority for Willistown Township. 

For the past few years our focus has been on drafting and adopting appropriate zoning; especially as it pertains to building height, density and infrastructure improvements. With much valuable feedback from our residents, I believe the ordinances we’ve crafted will serve the best interests of the community.

As far as a current update, I don’t have much to add beyond what you’ve heard from Representative Kampf and Supervisors Kichline and DiBuonaventuro. Most of the current action is on the Tredyffrin side of the township line with the route 252 and related traffic improvements.

Thank you and stay tuned.

Norman MacQueen

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What’s the future of the Paoli Transportation Center project . . . Remember, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’!

I continue to wonder about the PA Department of Transportation’s interest in the Downingtown train station; the cost of purchasing land and building a new train station when the existing station is only 20 years old.  I am certain that Downingtown probably needs additional parking but with one-third the daily ridership of Paoli, I am troubled how the Downingtown project, seemingly out of nowhere, appears to have shot to the ‘head of the class’ in interest for the DOT.  With major budget cuts in Harrisburg, and a finite amount of dollars for transportation projects, there should be alarm for existing transportation projects such as the Ardmore Transit Center and the Paoli Transportation Center. Will there be enough money to go around to all these projects?

There is concern in Ardmore that their long-standing transportation project may likewise take a backseat to Downingtown, and the suggestion is that it is political connections – either by Downingtown elected officials or ‘lack of’ connections by Ardmore’s elected officials.  To read further about Ardmore, see the latest post from Carla at Save Ardmore Coalition.

Why does politics have to drive projects in Harrisburg?  Is it the squeaky wheel that gets greased?  Sen. Andy Dinniman’s jurisdiction covers both Downingtown and Paoli, so which train station project does he prioritize . . . the project that is years in the making (Paoli) or this new train station project in Downingtown? 

Serving as state representative for the 155th legislative district, which includes Downingtown, is Curt Schroder (R-East Brandywine).  A quick review of his website did not produce any news on the Downingtown train project, but I did discover that Schroder chairs the House Gaming Oversight Committee that is responsible for the state’s gambling industry.  As a senior state representative, I am guessing that Schroder has a direct line to Harrisburg and the governor.

Back to the Paoli Transportation Center – some would suggest that what goes on in Downingtown has no bearing on Paoli; that these transportation projects are separate and apart.  You know the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, I think that sums up the Paoli Transportation Center project.  How does a community sustain interest in a project, when there appears to be so little forward movement? 

In 1996, the Paoli Rail Yards Task Force composed of representatives from Tredyffrin and Willistown Townships, Chester County, Septa, Amtrak, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the US Environmental Protection Agency, PennDot and elected officials completed a feasibility study that recommended:

  • construction of a new station and associated facilities 800 feet west of the current station;
  • preparation of a conceptual transportation center, access and development plan; and
  • preparation of preliminary development costs and income potential.

Look again at the date of that study, 1996 . . . 15 years ago!  We know that Rome wasn’t built in a day but how many years does it take to build the Paoli Transportation Center?

Last June 2010, there appeared to be a shot in the arm for the Paoli Transportation Center.  Former State Rep Paul Drucker, a staunch supporter of the Paoli transportation project, announced $1 million in state funding from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for the construction of the Paoli Intermodal Transportation facility and named Strategic Realty Investment as the project’s developer. Through Drucker’s efforts in Harrisburg, there seemed to be a renewed sense of urgency and momentum to build the train station with on-site parking garage and new office and retail space.  Evidenced by the $1 million in state funding, many of us saw this as kick-starting the project that would create jobs and provide economic stimulus for the community.

When Drucker lost his state house re-election bid in November, did the community also lose their most vocal supporter of the Paoli Transportation Center project? During the last 13 months, since the announcement of the $1 million funding, I have not heard of any ‘new’ news on the train station project. We saw the Paoli Transportation Center project used in campaign literature in November and by political candidates in the May primary, but what really has changed in the last 13 months?

Hoping to gain perspective and an update on the Paoli Transportation Center project, I contacted elected officials and supervisor candidates.  The following individuals were contacted for comments:  State Rep Warren Kampf, State Rep Dwayne Milne, Michelle Kichline and John DiBuonaventuro,   (Tredyffrin Twp supervisors and members of the Paoli Rail Yards Task Force) Norm MacQueen (Willistown Twp supervisor) and Tredyffrin Twp supervisor candidates Kristen Mayock, Tory Snyder, Mike Heaberg, Paul Olsen, Murph Wysocki and Molly Duffy.

Understanding my short timeline for responses, coupled with summer vacation and work schedules, I accepted that some of those contacted would be unable to respond.  However, I want to thank those that did take time from their busy summer schedules to offer their comments for Community Matters readers.

As a response for an update on the Paoli Transportation Center, I received the following from State Rep Warren Kampf:

Pattye:

Thank you for your email. I appreciate your concern as a constituent regarding the Paoli Transportation Center.

My recollection is that most of the legislators and County officials support this project. The PennDOT Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) currently has the Paoli Transportation Center (MPMS# 47979 and MPMS #60574) as a priority project and Chester County has this listed at the top of their list.

Every few years the TIP projects are reviewed and that process is again underway. I will continue to advocate for the Paoli Transportation Center. Other communities have needs of course, but I consider Paoli to be a very high priority.

I would caution you or anyone who sees planning or activity on other projects, for example, Downingtown, as somehow linked to the standing of Paoli. The process does not appear to work that way as I understand it. My belief is any work related to Downingtown that would receive State funding would need to go through the TIP process, and I do not see it on the TIP list I have. Further, I presume that the size of that project is far, far smaller than Paoli, so they would logically have different levels of work and funding associated with them, and probably very different timelines.

The Paoli project is moving forward. I am told that both Tredyffrin Township and SEPTA are preparing separate RFPs for road way design needed for the transportation center this summer. Precise timelines, however, are not available. That there is work being done, and the funding needed for that work exists, are good signs in my view.

Warren

Michelle Kichline and John DiBuonaventuro as Tredyffrin Twp supervisors and members of the Paoli Rail Yards Task Force provided the following joint response:

In response to your question about the status of the Paoli Transportation Center, the following is the most recent update:

Both Tredyffrin Township and Septa are about to issue Requests for Proposals for transit and road improvements. all of the work will be grant funded, mostly from federal funds.

SEPTA’s RFP will be for design of the new station and parking garages. Tredyffrin is issuing 2 RFPs : one to lead the public input process and design road improvements associated with the Paoli Transportation Center; and the other for the design of the improvements recommended by the recent feasibility study for the Rt 252/30 intersection. The Township told me that once the RFPs are ready to go out they will be posted on the Township website, along with a project update.

We are assured by Township and County representatives that Paoli remains a top transportation priority for Chester County. It continues to have the support of Federal and State representatives.

If you have any further questions please let us know.

I sent the following question to Tredyffrin Twp supervisor candidates Mike Heaberg, Tory Snyder, Paul Olsen, Kristen Mayock and Murph Wysocki:

Please make a brief statement on the Paoli Transportation Center project. In 200 words or less, please offer your opinion on why the project has lagged for 15+ years, if there is a future for the project and whether or not you support the project. If you support the Paoli Transportation Center project, as a supervisor, what would you do to ensure that it is a priority of the state’s Department of Transportation and receives adequate funding.

Below are responses from Heaberg, Synder, Mayock and Wysocki:

I fully support a new Paoli Transportation Center, built in a way that improves the quality of life of our community and fully protects the interests of Tredyffrin residents.  This project is a top local transportation priority for our federal and state legislators, the DVRPC, PennDOT, SEPTA and Amtrak. 

As a current Supervisor, I have participated in recent planning discussions and at our upcoming meetings the Tredyffrin BOS will consider two Requests for Proposals: 1) a public input process to assure that our community’s voices are heard and 2) design of local road improvements in the Paoli community, including the 30/252 intersection.  Also, SEPTA is preparing a RFP for the design of the new station and parking garages.

We’re making progress…Thank you for your interest in this important project.

Michael Heaberg
Current Supervisor-At-Large
Republican Candidate for Supervisor-At-Large

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It is frustrating to see how slowly the Paoli project is taking, but it is significantly more complicated than a “simple” regional rail station relocation.  The Paoli project is a public/private development on a former superfund site, which required clean-up, a zoning change in two municipalities,  awarding of a contract to a private developer, coordination of two transit agencies (Amtrak and Septa), and juggling of various public funding sources.  We have actually made a huge amount of progress on this complex process, but the devil is in the details and that is where we are  —  waiting for formal submission of plans from the developer and the transit agencies. That said, I believe that at least in Tredyffrin, there have been a number of individuals, some elected, some not, who have been advocates for the Paoli project over the years and have given endless hours of their time to help move the process forward. What I think we have lacked is a united Board of Supervisors in support and as advocates of the project, without which the need for the project probably seems less urgent at the state and federal levels. My goal as Supervisor would be to work to create that united front.

Victoria “Tory” Snyder,
Democratic Candidate for Supervisor, East District

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Paoli has the potential to be a jewel in Tredyffrin.  As someone who uses the Paoli station for travel to Philadelphia and New York and who lives near the station, I strongly support and will advocate for the Paoli train station redevelopment project.

The infrastructure of the station is outdated and dilapidated.  The roads around the station are unsafe and gridlocked.  Lack of parking is a significant contributing cause of failed local businesses.  Tredyffrin has lost out to neighboring townships in attracting new businesses because of the limited usefulness and overall undesirability of the Paoli station.  We cannot afford to continue to do so.  Exactly why the project has lagged is not as important at this juncture as recognizing the progress made in the last few years and keeping the pressure on to advance the project. Tredyffrin has a unique opportunity to transform a run-down station into a vibrant, smart growth transportation center.  Intelligent redevelopment of the Paoli Rail Yard will encourage economic development in the Township, improve local traffic problems, alleviate congestion on local roads and encourage rail travel.

This project is going to happen. Tredyffrin and SEPTA have already put the wheels in motion for transit, station, parking and area road improvements, using mostly federal grants.  I have existing relationships with the Township and State leaders who are active participants in the reinvigoration of this project.  As Supervisor, I will ask to be a member of the Township’s Task Force, making it one of my top priorities.

Kristen Kirk Mayock
Republican Candidate for Supervisor-At-Large
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Tredyffrin’s Opportunity. Some might offer the following reasons for the more than fifteen year tortuous path of the Paoli Transportation Center (Center)—complicated project, numerous governmental and private stakeholders, burdensome procedures, environmental issues, money, developers, and two townships.  I say that this project has suffered from a lack of political will and vision.  The Tredyffrin community would have long been enjoying a completed Center and a vibrant Paoli if Tredyffrin’s governmental leaders had vigorously pursued this important project with vision and leadership.

I fully support the completion of the Paoli Transportation Center.  This project creates jobs, short term and long term.  The Center will revitalize Paoli.  It will help make Paoli a vibrant town center in and for our Tredyffrin community.  The new Paoli will mean an expanded tax base for the Township. 

If elected, I will fight for the completion of the Paoli Transportation Center.  I will work with my fellow supervisors to present a united front in Harrisburg in the pursuit of project priority and funding. I will lobby legislators and other governmental officials, alone and with other stakeholders, relentlessly seeking our  rightful share of funds.  We must seize this opportunity for our Tredyffrin community.

Thank you,

F. Michael “Murph” Wysocki
Democratic Candidate for Supervisor-At-Large

I hope that this offers some perspective on where the Paoli Transportation Center project stands with our elected officials and an indication from supervisor candidates as to what they would do to help the process, should they be elected.  For those unable to respond by today’s deadline, due to work or vacation schedules, I will be glad to add their comments at a later time. 

Also, it is my understanding that there will be an official update on the Paoli Transportation Center project at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.  Looks like  progress and forward movement on the project may be coming this way  . . . .

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Why Does Downingtown Need a ‘New’ Train Station . . . Current station is less than 20 years old! What about Assistance for Train Station Projects already started . . . Ardmore? Paoli?

I was surprised by this headline in the Daily Local, ‘State to consider new Downingtown train station’ – What?  How about helping the Ardmore Transit Center project or our own Paoli Transportation Center?

According to the article, Bob Garrett, representative from the PA Dept of Transportation presented information to the Downingtown Borough Council that a state-funded study ($200K) will get underway shortly to look for a new site for their train station. What’s wrong with their current train station?

This makes no sense to me for several reasons.  First off, how is it possible that less than 2 weeks since passing the state budget, (with major cuts to education and human services) there is money to move the location of Downingtown train station? I researched the current train station in Downingtown and discovered the station is less than 20 years old!  The 19th century train station in Downingtown burned down in the early 1990s and was rebuilt sometime prior to 2000.  So why does the state think that Downingtown needs a new station and a new location?  Apparently, the current station needs more parking and the renovation of the present platform will not allow for sufficient handicap accessibility. 

I checked and the Downingtown train station has 213 parking spaces. I believe that like Paoli, Downingtown serves as both a SEPTA and Amtrak station. However, unlike Paoli, only select trains on the Paoli/Thorndale (R5) actually go to the Downingtown train station.  The daily passenger traffic at Paoli train station is almost 3 times that of the Downingtown train station.  According to a FY2010 Amtrak fact sheet, Paoli daily traffic is 155,000 passengers versus 59,000 passengers at Downingtown train station.  Based on the level of passenger traffic, additional parking needs, building improvement, etc. why is the focus not on the Paoli Transportation Center but on moving the location of the Downingtown train station.  The redevelopment plans for the Paoli Transportation Center have been in the works for years, whereas the Downingtown train station project appears to be the new kid on the block.

According to Garrett, the state wants to improve the train stations from Philadelphia to Harrisburg in hopes of increasing ridership.  This expensive study is to decide where in Downingtown to put the new train station.  As an aside, I found it interesting that the Dept of Transportation is without a ‘plan’ of what to do with the old Downingtown train station property once they move the location and build a new station. 

My question to the Dept of Transportation is why not finish the train station projects already underway before starting a new one . . . like the Ardmore Transit Center and our own Paoli Transportation Center?  When asked how much this project would cost, Garrett was not sure but a renovation at the Elizabethtown train station was $12.5 million.  Garrett offered that the state would help with the funding of the train station project in Downingtown.

Online I found a ‘Transportation Funding Crisis’ document which lists the public transportation projects for Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District-6 which includes Philadelphia, Chester, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties.  The comprehensive list of transportation projects includes Ardmore and Paoli transportation centers, but no listing whatsoever for the Downingtown train station project.  To be fair, there is no date on the Dept. of Transportation document so it may be a year or two old.  We know that the state has a finite amount of money for transportation projects, so why add a new project when there is an established list of train station projects already approved? Should there not be a priority to state funding for existing projects?

I would like an update on the Paoli Transportation Center . . . it seems as if the project is in limbo.  Where exactly does the project stand?  If the answer is, there is ‘no money’, than I think we need to contact Bob Garrett at the PA Department of Transportation office.  Obviously if the state is willing to fund the purchase of property and the building of a new train station in Downingtown, that has one-third the level of daily traffic as the Paoli train station, this community is missing out! 

What about Paoli Transportation Center — why can’t we get help? Who to contact — Township supervisors . . . State Rep Kampf . . . Senator Dinniman?

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I want to mention an op-ed article written by Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello titled, ‘We Must Address Transportation Needs’.  As Costello says, “We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the inevitable and ignore the fact that our aging infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and enhancements . . . “

Federal assistance is no longer available for the state’s critical infrastructure needs; help needs to come from Harrisburg.

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Cowboy Tattoo Ranch is Gone but Will Parking Prove Difficult for Paoli Town Center Project?

Following up on June 16 post, Cowboy Tattoo Ranch no more . . . Paoli Town Center Project Coming to Paoli! I have learned a few more details on the Paoli Town Center sale.

Rather than an individual buyer, the E. Lancaster Ave. block of buildings was purchased by Paoli Town Center, LLC. , a partnership of three local real estate investors. The property owner, Tim Bruni (of Bruni Tailoring) sold the 18,000 sq. ft of properties for $925K to the investors. The lower level is commercial space and the upper floors are currently used as apartments. The property consists of six retail stores, nine residential apartments and two offices. Jacobs Realty Group represented the buyer in the real estate deal and Sam Pilotti of Metric Realty represented the seller.  According to the sign on the storefronts, Jacobs Realty is the leasing agent.

Clearly, the new owner is going to spend money to upgrade the property. As I mentioned in the last post of the topic, the plan call for some much-needed face lifting for the group of buildings, including exterior painting and re-stucco and interior renovations to the lower commercial space and the apartments.

The selling price struck me as rather low for a commercial strip across the street from the Paoli train station.  In checking around, I saw that the original asking price for 2 -18 E. Lancaster Ave was $2 Million but the selling price was less than half.  I wonder if the discounted selling price reflects a ‘sign of the times’ or could it be the perceived parking problems associated with these properties?

The seller’s agent Sam Pilotti and I were on the Paoli Business and Professional Association Board together and he often spoke of the difficulties of finding tenants because of the parking situation.  Today, I received the following comment from Sam which underscores the parking problems and suggestions for improvements. Although I agree that parking could be improved – I would maintain that with the right tenants, people would find the needed parking.  What do you think, if an upscale bistro or a wine bar took the corner space, would you walk a few blocks?  Or, do you think that without additional parking spaces, there could be problems for the new owners?

Here’s Sam Pilotti’s opinion —  

Dear Community Matters,

Any upgrading of the façade of this new “Paoli Town Center Project” will certainly be an improvement; however, it will not take care of the real problem which is insufficient parking for the employees and patrons.

The new owners need to convince Tredyffrin Township to purchase a property nearby within walking distance for a municipal parking lot similar to what other towns have done with store fronts close to the highway and apartments on top and lack the parking. They have from Ardmore, Wayne and West Chester built many parking lots to accommodate parking for the retail locations that previously lack parking.

Tredyffrin is one of the only townships that have absolutely no municipal parking. The township needs to be convinced to buy the 2 properties on So. Valley Road that are nearest to this project and then I believe you will have a successful Town Center Project.

Sincerely,

Sam Pilotti,
Metric Realty
(has managed property for the last 25 years)

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Cowboy Tattoo Ranch no more . . . Paoli Town Center Project Coming to Paoli!

It’s official! 

A block of empty storefronts on Lancaster Ave. in Paoli has been sold to group of Paoli investors.  Included in the sale of this retail block is the now vacated  infamous Cowboy Tattoo Ranch.  With a design rendering titled, ‘Paoli Town Center’ by Architetra (shown below) I am certain that I join the community in welcoming the new owners and their redevelopment plans to the neighborhood!

It is my understanding that the row of buildings is slated for a makeover and facelift. Although not confirmed, I believe that the lower level will be retail space and the second floor either office space or apartments.  I am not sure on the timeline for the project, but the ink is dry on the paperwork so I am looking forward to an exciting new look to this section of Lancaster Avenue in Paoli. 

Located directly across Lancaster Avenue from the Paoli Train Station, here’s hoping that this latest redevelopment project is an encouraging economic sign and means good news for movement on the Paoli Transportation Center project!

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