Hearing continues on July 17th for PREIT’s latest effort to bring apartments to the Plymouth Meeting Mall

On the July 17th agenda for Plymouth Township’s Zoning Hearing Board is the continuation of a hearing involving PRETI’s proposal to redevelop the former Ikea office building at the Plymouth Meeting Mall. PREIT is the owner of the mall. The hearing was opened in April and was last continued on May 15th. Previous to that, the township’s planning agency declined to recommend the application.

PREIT previously sought a special exception to construct a 503-unit apartment community. During this series of hearings, PREIT argued that apartments were of similar general use as motels, motor courts, and assisted living facilities that are permissible uses in the Shopping Center Zoning District. That application was denied in 2021 and PREIT is currently appealing this decision in the court system.

Since 2021, Plymouth Township’s Council amended the zoning code for the Shopping Center District to allow the conversion of an existing building into no more than 150 apartments by conditional use. Unrelated to PREIT’s proposal, Keystone Development + Investment is seeking conditional use approval to convert the office building it owns adjacent to the mall into apartments.

PREIT’s new proposal significantly scales back the size of the apartment building. The plan that was previously rejected involved 503 units. The new proposal involves 300 units. Instead of 11 stories, it would be four or five stories.

However, PREIT is now arguing that since apartments are allowed within the Shopping Center District, it should be granted a special exception as it plans to construct an apartment building where apartments are allowed. In the prior hearings that concluded in 2021, which is legally a separate case, the township, which opposed the application, argued that apartments weren’t of the same general character as motels, motor courts, and assisted living facilities. It township has not yet made its argument in the new set of hearings.

The hearing is scheduled to be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Greater Plymouth Community Center.

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Photo: Rendering of apartments proposed by PREIT taken during May hearing