Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Strategic Realty Investments

PA State Representative 157 Race . . . Candidate Question #2 and Response

This is the Candidate Question & Response Forum for the Pennsylvania State House 157 candidates. As previously stated, candidate Warren Kampf declined to participate in the question and response forum. Candidate Paul Drucker’s response follows the question. Each Monday for six weeks, a new question and response will be posted. The candidate forum will end the week before the election.

Question #2: How do you propose to encourage job growth in the Commonwealth and specifically in your district?

Paul Drucker’s Response:

The length and depth of this economic downturn is astounding. I think a great deal about my friends, neighbors and constituents who are unemployed or struggling to keep their businesses afloat—and I know that we have to do a better job of fostering a climate of economic growth in Pennsylvania.

While I am proud of some of the economic development projects I helped bring to the district, like the $1 million grant to the Paoli train station that will produce 5,000 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs, I also know we need fundamental changes to Pennsylvania’s business climate.

First, we need to invest in a modern day infrastructure that includes new roads and bridges, better rail access and high-speed internet in rural areas. Next, we need to ensure Pennsylvania students have the best education in America. Finally, we need to help our small businesses grow and expand with a fair tax burden and access to low-interest grants and loans for new equipment and technology.

Questions Posed to State Representative Candidates . . . Should Voters Expect Responses from Drucker & Kampf

Voters can visit the campaign websites of State House 157 candidates Paul Drucker and Warren Kampf and read about the issues . . . explore how the candidates feel about jobs, economy, spending, education, environment, etc. Using social media as an integral component of their campaigns, the candidates suggest that you follow them on Twitter, become their Facebook fan . . . sign up for email updates, etc. Drucker and Kampf give voters contact information including special campaign email addresses and encourage questions or comments from the public. Just this week, Kampf tweeted, “. . . if you have any questions or comments feel free to contact the campaign at”

Representing Community Matters, I recently contacted each of the candidates through their campaign websites. Based on Community Matters discussion and questions posed from readers, my questions to Drucker and Kampf were straightforward and non-confrontational. Candidates encourage questions from the public so I asked each a question and the results are in . . . below are the questions that I posed to Drucker and Kampf and their respective responses.

Recently, Drucker presented a $1 million check from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to Strategic Realty for phase 1 funding of the Paoli Transit Center. In the press release, Drucker stated that the project would “. . . ultimately create more than 5,000 construction jobs and more than 2,000 permanent jobs in Paoli.”

My question to Drucker: Could you please provide the analysis for the 2,000 permanent jobs in Paoli that would be provided by the Paoli Transit Center Project?

Peter Monaghan, president of Strategic Realty provided Rep Drucker with further details on temporary job and permanent job estimates for the Paoli Transit Center Project. Estimates for permanent job creation are based on the square footage of planned office, retail and residential space. The private development component of the Paoli Transit Center project will yield approx. 300,000 sq. ft of office space, 75,000 sf of retail space and 525,000 sf of residential space. The formula for permanent jobs is as follows:

  • Retail: 75,000 sf @ 1 job/500sf = 150 jobs
  • Office: 300,000 sf @ 1 job/200sf = 1,500 jobs
  • Residential: 525,000 sf @ 1 job/10,000sf = 53 jobs
  • Transit: 50 jobs

A recent post on Community Matters prompted 80+ comments (including Phoenixville Councilman Ken Buckwalter). The subject of the post – the current FBI investigation of local attorney Jeffrey Rotwitt for his role in the Family Court land development project scandal in Philadelphia. In April, Rotwitt hosted a campaign fundraiser for State Rep candidate Warren Kampf. As a result of Kampf’s association with Jeffrey Rotwitt, Rep. Drucker released a statement calling for Kampf to return of money raised at the Rotwitt fundraiser. Hoping to provide Kampf an opportunity to respond to Drucker and to the resident’s interest in the topic, I contacted Kampf for a response.

My question to Kampf: Do you have an official response to Mr. Drucker concerning the FBI investigation of Mr. Rotwitt and money raised at your April political campaign fundraiser hosted by Mr. Rotwitt?

Unfortunately, there was not a response to my email by Kampf nor any acknowledgement of my communication. Not receiving a reply, I sent a follow-up email that repeated the question . . . to date, there remains no response. For me, I am left to wonder why Mr. Kampf sent this tweet to his followers “. . . if you have any questions or comments feel free to contact the campaign at”

State Rep Paul Drucker Makes $1,000,000 Announcement Today!

Under the warm summer sun this morning, on the platform of the Paoli train station, those of us in the attendance waited in anticipation for the ‘big announcement’. With the channel 6 ABC news cameras rolling, State Representative Paul Drucker delivered the exciting news that state funding will provide $1,000,000 for the initial phase of the much-anticipated Paoli Transit Center.

Standing with Strategic Realty Investment president Peter Monaghan and House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans, D-Phila at his side, Rep Drucker explained to the audience that with this project comes economic growth to the community, including 5,000 construction jobs and over 2,000 permanent jobs.

Today’s announcement signifies a new beginning for Paoli and for the larger community . . . a day to celebrate!

Below is the complete press release for today’s announcement:

Paoli Rail Yard to receive $1 million in state funding

PAOLI, June 21 – State Rep. Paul Drucker, D-Chester/Montgomery, announced today that the Paoli Rail Yard will receive $1 million in state funding from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for the construction of the Paoli Intermodal Transportation facility.

“The release of this funding facilitates the initial phase of the most significant public-private multi-modal transit project in the entire Delaware Valley region,” Drucker said. “The solar component of this initial phase, funded by these dollars, reflects the opportunity for our community to reclaim an otherwise unusable contaminated soil containment cell for use as a 400,000 watt solar power generation facility.”

Drucker said the proposed facility will ultimately supply power to AMTRAK/SEPTA rail operations.

“Today represents the initiation of the larger project that will ultimately create more than 5,000 construction jobs and more than 2,000 permanent jobs in Paoli,” Drucker said. “But most importantly, the building of this solar field will immediately produce 40 new, family-sustaining jobs and offer a boost to our local economy.”

Drucker, joined by House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans, D-Phila., Peter Monaghan from Strategic Realty, Tredyffrin District 3 Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro, Marie Thibault from the Paoli Business Association, and Tim Connor of the Chester County Economic Development Council announced the funding at a 10:30 a.m. news conference held at the Paoli Train Station.

The new Paoli Intermodal Transportation facility is planned to include a new station, passenger amenities, office buildings, and an on-site parking garage.

Funding from RACP is intended to create quality jobs and provide economic stimulus to the Pennsylvania economy.

Will Ardmore Transit Center’s Funding Issues Impact the Future of Paoli Transportation Center?

The $180 million Ardmore Transit Center planned for downtown Ardmore shares many similarities with the vision many are planning for the Paoli Transportation Center. Ardmore’s downtown facelift is to include replacing the existing train station plus a new Main Street area with 500-car parking garage, stores and a five-story apartment building. The project is set to completely revitalize the historic community of Ardmore by the creation of a new mixed-use village much like what is planned for Paoli.

The developer for the Ardmore project, Dranoff Properties of Philadelphia is asking Lower Merion Commissioners for a one-year extension claiming design issues with Amtrak. In December, Dranoff learned that Amtrak will be upgrading its electrification system in 10 years and the overhead power lines needs to be factored in to the planned design; resulting in at least a 6 months delay. Dranoff’s extension request will be discussed at Lower Merion’s next commissioner meeting. However, residents are learning that there is more than design delays, there are money problems due to SEPTA. If you recall, SEPTA had made a big publicity splash with its announcement of 22 capital projects. However, now SEPTA is saying these projects may have to wait indefinitely. SEPTA’s contribution to the Ardmore Transit Center was to be $10 million – SEPTA’s general manager Joseph Casey is blaming Washington, pointing the finger at the federal government’s decision not to add tolls to Pennsylvania’s I-80.

The Ardmore Transit Center has been bogged down by one problem or another since the project originally launched in 2004 with a federal grant. Just 2 years ago, the original developer pulled out of the project and was replaced by Dranoff Properties. Last year, Carl Dranoff of Dranoff Properties and township commissioners said they were counting on $5.8 million from the Federal Transit Administration, $6 million in state funding for the 500-car parking garage, $10 million from SEPTA, and $250,000 from Montgomery County.

This past Friday, St. Joseph’s University hosted a state House transportation and policy meeting where SEPTA’s general manager revealed that insufficient funding from Washington was forcing SEPTA to cut $110 million from its capital budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Although extremely frustrating, Dranoff and Lower Merion officials appear to be optimistic that their money troubles will be resolved and that project will go forward. Or is this going to be another sign of the economics of our times where we see major projects such as infrastructure repairs on roads and bridges, transportation centers, etc. all put on indefinite ‘hold’?

Hearing the news on the Ardmore Transit Center project, Rep Jim Gerlach (R) responded, “. . . I am becoming increasingly concerned that continuing delays will ultimately threaten the federal funds I have already worked to obtain. Rather than asking for more delays, the residents and taxpayers deserve a redoubling of efforts by all parties – Amtrak, SEPTA, the township, and the developer – to get this project done as expeditiously as possible.”

So what exactly does this news mean for the Paoli Transportation Center? SEPTA forced to cut their capital budget by $110 million, doesn’t that impact the future of our economic revitalization project in Paoli? Since Ardmore started their transportation center project before Paoli, it would seem that their project is ahead of us for SEPTA, state and federal funding.

I would like for State Rep Paul Drucker to weigh in on the status of funding for Paoli’s transportation center. As the developer for the Paoli Transportation Center, maybe Peter Monaghan of Strategic Realty Investments could comment as to whether he thinks Ardmore’s funding situation with their transit center will have an impact on Paoli’s redevelopment project.

Strategic Realty Investments. . . the Right Choice for the Community!

A few days ago, I shared the exciting news that Strategic Realty Investments (SRI) was named the master developer for the Paoli Rail Yard project. One of the principals of SRI, Peter Monaghan is community-oriented and understands the importance of engaging the local residents in the process. Both on a personal level and also as a board member of Paoli Business & Professional Association, I was happy to applaud the choice! Peter kindly took the time to offer the following thoughts on the Paoli Rail Yard project and I wanted to share them . . .


First and foremost I wanted to thank for your kind words of support and well wishes for the Paoli rail yards project. And thanks for your continued good work supporting Tredyffrin Township and its residents. I wanted to highlight a few matters that I think are important to consider in light of your December 20th blog post.

The redevelopment of the Paoli rail yards is in the very early planning stages, and while Strategic Realty Investments has recently been named master developer for the site, no decisions have been made as to what will be constructed there beyond the long awaited new Paoli train station, new transit parking garage and related transit infrastructure to replace the very outdated existing station and parking. A comprehensive vision that will benefit all stakeholders will be crafted in the coming months. Our goal is to provide all stakeholders with the opportunity to have input into the planning process. To that end, Strategic Realty will be holding a series of small group meetings within the community, and we will be sure to let you know the details so you can inform your readers.

In addition, we are at least 18 months from breaking ground at the site. The first phase of the project will address modernization of the Paoli Train station, and many infrastructure improvements are also in the queue as first steps toward redevelopment of the site. Long story short: we have ample time for the economy to recover before any ribbon cuttings occur. In the interim, our goal is to build a vision for the site that provides a unique transit-oriented asset in the heart of Paoli with a range of resources that benefit the community as a whole. This vision will be created in a collaborative manner, with consideration given to other resources already existent in the community such as the Worthington development.


Peter Monaghan

Not a Very Merry Christmas for Local Developer

Along with me, I am sure all of you have been watching the development of the Uptown Worthington project on Route 29. This redevelopment project taken on by Brian O’Neill and O’Neill Properties Group on 100 acres of the former Worthington Steel factory was supposed to be a model for the planning concept ‘New Urbanism’. The project had a price tag of $540 million, 1.6 million sq. ft and was supposed to include 753 luxury residences, nearly 800,000 sq. ft. of upscale retail and about 185,000 sq. ft. of office space. Having Wegmans Market in our backyard was exciting news for a lot of us!

Now it looks like Uptown Worthington may be a model for great projects falling to the woes of today’s economic crisis. O’Neill Properties Group is in danger of having to give the keys back to Citizens Bank. Citizens Bank has secured a $61 million judgment against the developer who borrowed money to build the project. Court documents filed a couple of weeks ago show that the bank entered the judgment against Brian O’Neill, after the bank and the King of Prussia developer were unable to come to terms on the loan. In researching the situation, I determined that O’Neill Properties originally arranged an $86 million loan with Citizens Bank through Malvern Hill Associates and other O’Neill-affiliations for the land acquisition and construction costs. O’Neill guaranteed the loan, which was initially made in 2006 and amended in October 2008 when the financial markets worldwide were in turmoil. As of this date, Mr. O’Neill has not filed a petition to strike the judgment (the legal option when someone places a judgment against them.)

The million dollar question (or rather $61 million question) – what does this news mean for the project? I am not sure what the timeline is for O’Neill Properties to resolve the loan issue . . . and what happens in the meantime, does the project continue with O’Neill Properties? I’d like some of our developer, planners, and contractors to weigh in on this one. Does my much anticipated Wegmans Market get completed? Will Citizens Bank become the developer in this project?

This turn of events for Brian O’Neill certainly must be causing pause for Peter Monaghan and Strategic Realty Investments (SRI). Here we have SRI, the recently-named master developer of the Paoli Transit Center project which is to include multi-use development, just down the road from the current financial woes of the Uptown Worthington project. I don’t personally know Brian O’Neill, but in the interest of the community, here’s hoping that some good news comes his way (in the form of $61 million!). For Peter Monaghan, O’Neill Properties Group’s misfortune must be an eye-opening revelation, so here’s sending best wishes to Strategic Realty Investments for their success with the Paoli project!

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