Last night there was a Zoning Hearing in Whitemarsh for a proposed office building at 901 Washington Street. The building consists of two floors of office space above a ground floor parking lot. The office space is 82,000 square feet and is being developed by 901 Washington Partners, LP/Eli Kahn.
The developer is seeking a bunch of variances that was somewhat reduced before the start of the meeting. During the hearing the developer testified that the Conshohocken commercial real estate had many mid-sized buildings, but lacked inventory of smaller buildings. The hope of the developer is to attract one tenant based on the desire of corporations to have modern office near a train station. The size of the building is based on what the developer believes makes the project financially viable.
The zoning for that area allows for more building height than the developer is asking, but the footprint of the building is more than what is allowed. Due to this the developer is asking for a variance to allow it. In addition to the other variances, the developer is working with FEMA to adjust the flood way line.
One of the nearby office buildings also provided an expert to testify that allowing the variance on building size would aggravate flooding and traffic. A resident of East Elm street also expressed concerns over traffic.
One of the interesting thing about the project is the proposed extension of Washington Street in front of the property. Currently Washington Street is blocked by a fence near the Whitemarsh/Conshy border. While the plan doesn’t currently provide a connection to Lee Street (thus a second route off the riverfront instead of going through the Borough of Conshohocken), it does move the plan forward. The completion of Washington Street is a goal of Whitemarsh’s Comprehensive Plan. One thing to note regarding traffic, the developer does have a deal in place to allow its tenant’s traffic go through the parking lot of David’s Bridal, which would provide access off the riverfront through Whitemarsh.
After two and a half hours the hearing was continued to July 2nd. More to come on this development.