Report from the Zoning Hearing Board Meeting to Consider Office Building at West Elm and Corson

Last night the Zoning Hearing Board took up the application for a proposed office building at West Elm and Corson. The property had previously been approved for an apartment community, but the developers stated last night that after reexamining the Conshohocken market, there is a current lack of office space available to tenants seeking 30,000 square feet and up. Conshohocken’s vacancy rate has been about 13% for some time and the majority of the available space is under 5,000 square feet.

The proposed building is seven stories and 324,000 square feet. The developer stated that there is not a tenant at this time.

Neve Back of Building

The developer was seeking a variance to allow for a building longer than 300 linear feet. The building, as proposed in the application, is 398 linear feet. During the Zoning Hearing Board’s solicitor pointed out that the developer did not include the parking garage in the calculation of linear feet. As you can see in the top photo, which is a view from West Elm Street, you just see the office portion of the building from that angle. The photo just above this paragraph shows the view from the river. The property is on a hill and from this river view angle you see an attached parking garage that runs the full length of the building, plus extends out on both sides. If you include the parking garage, the length is 574 linear feet.

There was some discussion if the parking garage should be included as part of the building. In the Borough’s code, a building is defined as “Any structure having a roof supported by columns or walls and intended for the shelter, housing or enclosure of any individual, animal, process, equipment, goods or materials of any kind or nature.” The parking garage does not have a roof. Based on that definition, could a developer add an open air working space on the top of every building and claim its not a building?

Building not a buildingWe are exaggerating (are we?) of course, but a roof is the first thing mentioned in the code to define a building.

Anyhow, the Zoning Hearing Board decided to continue the hearing and the developer can submit an amended application and change the length of the requested variance or make a case as to why the parking deck should not be included.

A date for the next hearing has not yet been announced. We will keep you updated.