Parkview at Chesterbrook

How many townhouses and assisted living communities does Tredyffrin Township need (or want)? Can the T/E School District accommodate the increase in student population?

You may recall the abandoned Jimmy Duffy property on Lancaster Avenue in Berwyn and the subsequent construction of Daylesford Crossing, an assisted living facility on the site.  The approval for Daylesford Crossing was a long, drawn out redevelopment process in 2012 that required a text amendment to permit senior living facilities as a by-right use in C-1 (commercial) zoning.

Some argued at the time that the zoning change to permit senior living in C-1 was ‘spot-zoning’ to accommodate this specific project and others questioned what this would mean for future C-1 development in Tredyffrin Township. In 2015, the township expanded the C-1 District zoning to also include townhouses as a by-right use.

During the last few years, developers have flocked to the township with their assisted living and townhouse, apartment and condominium plans. Assisted living projects currently under construction or in the review process include Erickson Living at Atwater Crossing in Malvern (250 beds) and Brightview Senior Living on E. Conestoga in Devon (196 beds).

On the townhouse-apartment side in the township, there are many projects in the planning stages or under construction including:

  • “Parkview”, new townhouses in Chesterbrook
  • “Peyton’s Crossing” townhouses, Berkeley Road, Devon
  • “Village Square” townhouses, S. Valley Road, Paoli
  • “Grey’s Lane” townhouses, Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn
  • Station Square Redevelopment, 3 multi-story apartment buildings, Paoli
  • Chestnut Road Apartments, multi-family apartment building, Paoli
  • 644-704 Lancaster Avenue: redevelopment of Devon Shopping Center to include reconfiguration of retail with addition of apartments above.

Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed.  Top ranking school district, T/E brings an influx of people to the area which means an influx of students, and the growing problem of finding a place to put them.  With an award-winning school district and a premium placed on land, developers know that their profit margins are greater with the multi-family development projects.  But what is the price tag to the community and its residents for this economic development?

In addition to the housing projects above, there’s a new proposed land development plan in the works that is extremely troubling – townhouses on Howellville Road. The proposal is to wedge a cluster of 20 townhouses, in four buildings, between the village of Howellville and the shadow of the Refuge Pentecostal Church.

The village of Howellville in Tredyffrin is an historic township village, dating to the early 1700s. A pleasant symmetry and cottage appearance, five mid-eighteenth century buildings remain in the village and are located very close to Howellville Road, which was common at that time. Howellville Road contributes to the rural character of the community and any new development should be of such character and location as to complement the existing built environment.

The proposed land development plan on Howellville Road is not compatible with the character and appearance of the area.  Beyond the impact of traffic on Howellville Road, the proposed development plan creates serious safety concerns.  The steep narrow winding nature of Howellville Road makes entry and exit from the proposed dense townhouse project a dangerous situation.

Benson Company’s proposed townhouse project on Howellville Road will change the look and character of this community as well as place a greater burden on the narrow, winding road – and again more students for the school district!

John Benson of Benson Company has enthusiastically offered that his proposed Howellville Road townhouses will look like his Grey’s Lane townhouses on Lancaster Ave.  A couple of things – (1) Grey’s Lane is on Rt. 30, a commercial 4-lane road vs. Howellville Road, a rural country road and (2) he squeezed 12 townhouses in at Grey’s Lane in 3 buildings where as this proposal is for 4 buildings with 20 townhouses.

Each time one of these townhouse developers comes to the township for approval, we are told that there will be little impact on the traffic because the target audience is retirees. The developers design master bedrooms on the ground floor of the town home plans; claiming that buyers are “empty-nesters” and not families with children. Based on traffic in the area and the increasing student enrollment, I question that argument.

The Howellville Road townhouse plan is on the Planning Commission agenda for Thursday, February 16, 7 PM at the township building as is the Chestnut Road multi-family apartment building in Paoli.

Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed. Between the assisted living communities and the townhouses and apartments, should the objective in Tredyffrin Township be to approve any and all land development projects regardless of the impact?

Official ground breaking & ribbon-cutting for Chesterbrook … “rebirth of a broken shopping center” Public Invited!

If you live in Chesterbrook or have driven on Chesterbrook Boulevard by the Chesterbrook Shopping Center during the last several months, you will have seen obvious signs of the long awaited redevelopment project which includes both razing and resurrection.

The center’s mixed-use development plan uses Tredyffrin’s newly created Town Center District for the 13-acre site with 123 new residential town homes, ‘Parkview at Chesterbrook’ and 30,000+ sq. ft. of commercial space (utilizing the front row of the existing building).

The public is invited to attend the official ground breaking and ribbon-cutting of the “rebirth of a broken shopping center” on Tuesday, July 28 at 11 AM. Invitation below —

Chesterbrook ribbon cutting invitation

Chesterbrook Shopping Center redevelopment project is underway — Its time has finally come!

If you have driven on Chesterbrook Boulevard by the Chesterbrook Shopping Center during the last several months, you will have seen obvious signs of the long awaited redevelopment project which includes both razing and resurrection.

The Chesterbrook Shopping Center was constructed in 1981 with 122,000 plus square feet of retail, including the Genuardi’s grocery store as its anchor. Poor visibility, competition (Trader Joes, Whole Foods, etc.), shopping center design flaws and ultimately the economic downturn all contributed to the center’s demise. As stores moved out and remained empty, shoppers looked to other centers as their main shopping destination. In the last five years since Genuardi’s left the Chesterbrook location in 2010, it has been difficult to watch the center’s decline.

Purchased in 2013 by 500 Chesterbrook Boulevard LP, the owners of the shopping center complex, including Tredyffrin Township resident Bob Whalen, have successfully maneuvered their redevelopment plans through Tredyffrin Township’s Planning Commission, with final approval from the township’s Board of Supervisors. Whalen, owner of RW Partners and Brian McElwee, owner of Valley Forge Investment Corp. partnered for the purchase and redevelopment of the Chesterbrook Shopping Center site.

The center’s plan is for a mixed-use development with 123 townhomes (their location is indicated on the map below). The plan for the 13-acre site contains 30,000+ sq. ft. of commercial space (utilizing the front row of the existing building) and new residential townhouses in the newly created Town Center District.

Parkview at Chesterbrook

 

The new design for the center by Goodwin Architects razes a large portion of the current shopping center including the Genuardi’s store and the back row of stores.  A small retail strip will remain and local favorite Diane’s Sidewalk Deli will continue to operate at its present location. The Rite Aid drug store will move from its current location to a larger space in the new retail strip. I was assured that all other displaced tenants received the option of relocating to the reconfigured retail center. Wells Fargo Bank will continue in its present location but presumably will have a face-lift to match the upgrades coming to the otheParkview at Chesterbrook signr storefronts.

The residential townhouses, ‘Parkview at Chesterbrook’ have experienced builder Greg Lingo, owner of Cornell Homes by Ryland Homes at the helm. A veteran of the home building and residential development industry, Lingo has maintained a reputation for integrity and performance excellence, which will make the townhouses all the more desirable. With pre-construction pricing of $499K, there is already interest from local residents for the new luxury townhouses

The redevelopment of the Chesterbrook Shopping Center is long overdue – this project is a win-win for the neighboring residents, the corporate employees working in Chesterbrook and other township residents, who like me, drive through the area regularly. Here’s hoping that the exciting new retail and residential project marks a redevelopment renaissance in the area, as it breathes new life into the Chesterbrook community.

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