MoreThanTheCurve.com received revised and less redacted copies of the proposals from Keystone Property Group and Brandywine Realty Trust. First we are going to review the proposal from Keystone.
Keystone’s submission proposes:
- 8 story parking garage
- 4-5 full service and quick service restaurants
- Old Firehouse retrofitted into multi-level restaurant/brewpub
- 18 floor, world-class hotel with over 200 rooms and a rooftop bar/lounge overlooking Conshohocken Valley
- Outdoor seating and stage for live music/entertainment
- Retail level promenade with ample lighting and streetscaping/landscaping
Keystone is able to offer a much more robust plan because it owns properties adjacent to the West Elm and Fayette area. Only the old fire house property and the grass area are Borough owned and part of the RFP they are responding to.
Keystone offers to pay $3,000,000 for the three properties. However, just buying them does not allow them to build what they have proposed. All three properties fall within the “Business Commercial” zoning district, which has a 40′ height limit on new developments. To build the hotel, parking deck and new office tower, the Borough will need to rezone the area or the Zoning Board will need to provide variances.
In regards to the Verizon Building section of the proposal, Keystone offers:
- Terminate the Borough’s lease at a Keystone owned building on West 1st Avenue in anticipation of its moving to the rehabbed Verizon Building in 2015
- Remediation of the Verizon Building (the structure and environmental issues)
- Build a sally port for the police station that would be housed in the rehabbed Verizon Building (see more on this below)
- One line is fully redacted, so we do not know what it says
- Provide the Borough with a lease structure that allows it to stay within range of their current occupancy budget (see more on this below)
In regards to the Sally Port, Keystone suggests the Borough reacquire the parking lot it deeded to Wells Fargo, which is located in the adjacent property. The Borough would have to use eminent domain to reclaim it. Obtaining this parking lot would allow the police to have its own entrance into the building and parking area.
In regards to the last point of allowing the Borough to stay within range of their current occupancy budget, Keystone recommends the Borough secure either a $3,000,000 Urban Development Action Grant (federal) or a $4,000,000 Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program grant (state), which the Borough could allow Keystone to allocate towards the redevelopment costs of the Verizon Building. If Keystone, through the Borough, had access to this money, Keystone would be able to offer the Borough a lease structure that will either equal or slightly improve upon what the Borough currently spends for office space.
At least one of these grants is in the process of being obtained. Senate Bill 680 introduced on March 13, 2013 (see page 391) and Amended on June 29, 2013 (Printer No 1329) includes $4,391,000 for the “Construction, infrastructure improvement and other costs related to Verizon Building remediation and adaptive reuse project”. We asked State Representative Mary Jo Daley’s office if this money was a Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program grant and her office responded, “It is for the Redevelopment Assistance Capitol Projects (RACP) program. That bill is currently in the House Appropriations Committee.” We spotted a member of her staff at the last Borough Council meeting when the proposals were discussed, so they are following the progress of selecting a proposal.
So there seems to be some other things that need to happen to make this proposal viable, the most important being zoning. Stay tuned.