Is the Hotel at West Elm and Fayette a Done Deal?

During last week’s Borough Council meeting the members voted to authorize the publication of  a RFP in regards to the Verizon Building, the old fire house behind the current Washington Fire Company and the grass area adjacent to the fire house at West Elm and Fayette.  The RFP was published today.

There are two interesting points to be made in regards to this:

  • The properties included in the RFP are the same properties outlined in the “Conshohocken One” proposal that is being pursued by Keystone Properties.  As we have reported they want to build at boutique hotel at West Elm and Fayette and open a restaurant in the old fire house.  They would also expand on properties they already own at West 1st Avenue and Fayette (the parking deck and office tower)
  • The RFP schedule is VERY quick.
    • Publication of RFP is June 24, 2013
    • Pre-Proposal Site Inspection is July 3, 2013
    • Questions are due on July 8, 2013
    • Addendum (addenda) issued on July 9, 2013
    • Proposals due on July 24, 2013
    • Tentative award on or before August 14, 2013

As we previously reported, Keystone Properties has already discussed with the Borough taking the Verizon Building off the Borough’s hands if it can obtain the property at West Elm and Fayette. Due the fast track nature of the process, it raises the question as to whether it is being teed up for Keystone Properties to submit a proposal and have it accepted quickly without serious competition. As you may have noticed, the site visit and opportunity to ask questions all occur over the July 4th holiday.  The Borough is basically giving potential developers and itself less than two months to decide the fate of two blocks along Fayette Street.  Could be great, good be a bust, but are they taking enough time to make sure they get it right? 

The Borough has still not shared why the Verizon Building, which was purchased with $3,250,000 of public money, is filled with mold.  As we reported in a previous story, it is not mold hidden in walls, but it covers the walls, floors, etc.  It looks like something out of the Walking Dead.  No one has taken responsibility or shared who was responsible for allowing the building to go from a valuable asset to a white elephant.  Think of it this way.  You buy a shore house and hire a management company to maintain it for you.  You do not visit for a few years.  You make a visit and discover it is a mess.  You fire and sue the management company right?

It is very important that the desire to get out from under the Verizon Building is not be a leading factor in determining what happens at West Elm and Fayette.  Do we really want the development of West Elm and Fayette based on which developer is willing to take on the Verizon Building mess?  The gateway to Conshohocken deserves the best possible redevelopment. 

So if all of this concerns you, or if you think it is great, contact your representative on Borough Council. Click here for contact information.

Please note that we are not being critical of Keystone Properties’ concept for West Elm and Fayette.  We are keeping an eye on the process and we have also requested to be allowed to tag along during the site inspection on July 3rd.  Are we going to need one of these?