On Monday night there was a zoning hearing in Conshohocken regarding a proposed office building on the riverfront (200 block of Washington Street) from O’Neill Properties. The building and a parking garage would be located between the river and Millennium 1, 2 and 3.
This project received variances last year from the Zoning Hearing Board, such as permission to build to a height of 90 feet, five feet above the permitted zoning. O’Neill is now asking for a variance to build the office building and a parking garage to a height of 135 feet and add to the width of the parking garage.
The parking garage as approved last year would have been no higher than 85 feet high and would have held 900 cars. It is now proposed to hold 2,200 cars. When you add the 2,200 spaces in the parking garage and the existing surface spaces, the entire Millennium complex (three existing buildings, plus one one proposed building) would have 2,800 parking spaces.
Below are two images that show the 2014 proposal and as it is proposed in 2015:
Why the changes? The attorney for O’Neill Properties stated that the same potential tenant who they designed the building for last year, now wanted to bring more employees to Conshohocken. The speculation is that the tenant is AmerisourceBergen, which makes sense because the new building as proposed has a connector to Millennium 3, where AmerisourceBergen is already a tenant. The new building would be its corporate headquarters.
So what happened? Based on comments and questions from the Zoning Hearing Board, it didn’t appear O’Neill Properties was going to get the vote it wanted. O’Neill Properties asked for the hearing to be continued until August 3rd. During this time, O’Neill Properties will reevaluate the plan with its potential tenant and then present a revised plan for consideration. It could also just come back with the plan as it is and ask for a vote on it.
After the meeting we were able to get a look at a rendering of the building as you would see if facing down toward the river. They wouldn’t let me have a copy and told me to file a “Right to Know” request. So we can not share that with you today. The project basically creates a 135′ high by almost 800′ long wall (30′ separates the two structures) along the river. The zoning restricts how long buildings can be and the breaks that must exist between them to limit this type of development.
It would be a coup for Conshohocken to become the home of AmerisourceBergen, which ranked #16 on the most recent list of Fortune 500 companies. Hopefully they can find a way to do it without building a wall on the river.