SEPTA studying redeveloping its parking lots at train stations with mixed-use developments

The Philadelphia Business Journal reported on July 9th that SEPTA is initiating a process to examine its real estate holdings, mainly parking lots at rail stations, and explore developing these sites in an effort to generate ridership. From the article:

Parking lots adjacent to SEPTA train stations could make way for mixed-use development sites as the transit agency evaluates its real estate holdings and looks to maximize their value while also upping ridership.

The idea builds on a trend the regional transit organization identified in 2021, namely the promotion of transit-supportive communities as a priority, said SEPTA’s Director of Strategic Planning and Analysis Ryan Judge.

Doing so might not only increase flagging ridership, but lower rider’s carbon footprint and increase home values near stations, officials say.

Further in the article:

SEPTA is now working on “establishing a set of guidelines and identifying a few priority properties where we feel like we have the community support for doing work on property that we may own as well as the market potential to do something more than what it is today,” Judge said.

This fall, SEPTA plans to discuss possibilities with local groups to gauge their interest in development next to regional rail train stations. Aligning SEPTA’s goals with those of community groups and municipalities will be a key determining factor in how the future plans unfold.

This all ties in to the recent news that SEPTA has tabled for further review its plan to construct a parking garage near the new and underconstruction train station in Conshohocken (the location of the garage is circled in the image at the top of the article). The parking garage was too serve two purposes, first to increase the amount of parking available at the station, and second, provide parking for those traveling along the Schuylkill Expressway to exit the highay and take the train iinto the city. A series of signs would alert travelers on the highway as to the availability of parking and the train schedule.

As reported, Conshohocken Borough Council President Colleen Leonard spoke during a June meeting of SEPTA’s Board and called on SEPTA to move forward with the garage and warned SEPTA that the Borough of Conshohocken would not “engage in any discussion regarding zoning amendments or variances that SEPTA would need to develop the property for multi-family residential in the future.”

At the time, SEPTA had not publicly spoken about its plan to evaluate its parking lots for redevelopment, however, due to Leonard’s statement, it must have been mentioned during a June 14th conference call SEPTA had with the borough.

Conshohocken’s Borough Council voted in 2022 to remove residential uses from the zoning code for the zoning districts that compromise the riverfront, where the train station is located.

There are currently four completed apartment buildings (Riverwalk, Lumina, The Birch, and Matson Mill) and one condominum community (The Grande) along and just off the riverfront in the Borough of Conshohocken. These properties consist of 1,375 units. There is currently another apartment building under construction at 400 West Elm Street with 348 units. And finally, there is an approved, but not yet constructed apartment community stradling the Conshohocken/Whitemarsh border on the river with 598 units. That is a total of 2,321 units within a short walking distance of the train station.

You can read the full article here.