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The Abington Citizens Network
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The Williard Property - 375 Highland Avenue
Next to Standard Pressed Steel

Now called Switchville Crossing

The  Greater  Glenside Civic Association has a history of the Williard Building http://home.comcast.net/~glensidecivic/williard.htm
and may have updates & other info about the development if the links are working. Try: :
 http://home.comcast.net/~glensidecivic/meetings.htm

 or call your township or your Commissioner for the details.

________________________________________________

Next Meeting :   November 16, The Williard Hearing  7:30 p.m. in the Township Board Room –

Nov 2 2009- Hearing Nov 16th   for the plan now being proposed. The new name for the Complex is Switchville Crossing  - and the final details about the "crown on La Fitness which may or may not be a "lighted" crown are among details being hammered out .    (  In a nutshell: a fitness center (LA Fitness), an office building (which will be only 3 stories instead of 4), and a bank. There will be no parking garage - a proposal to demolish the Williard building in December 2009, then start building the LA Fitness Center, and then the office building. A tenant for the bank building has not been obtained yet.

 

Sept 22, 2009
The Plan was reviewed by the Planning Commission.  What is is in a nutshell: a fitness center (LA Fitness), an office building (which will be only 3 stories instead of 4), and a bank. There will be no parking garage - a proposal to demolish the Williard building in December 2009, then start building the LA Fitness Center, and then the office building. A tenant for the bank building has not been obtained yet.

August 20, 2008
The Greater Glenside Civic Association has updated us on the latest news:
   The  Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the ordinance and conditional uses that will create a Suburban Industrial/Mixed Use Overlay District on the former Williard site .

The mixed use will allow for a fitness center  with a pool that neighbors can use, as well as a 3500 SF restaurant , office building, and bank, a green space across the street  where the current parking lot is, on the corner of Kenmore Ave. and Highland Ave.

Two years of negotiations between the Duke Real Estate Partners and the Greater Glenside Civic Association  with township input and support led to the final result marked at the outset by the developers wish for a supermarket/retail use and the residents hope for a 9-to-5 an operation like a  medical research center or other  work-day use. 

Architecture and landscaping, specific tenants, traffic impact,  etc  will be discussed during the next official phase of the process - the Land Development Approval Process. Conditions regarding traffic have been legally incorporated into the approval process.

Demolition of the existing buildings will be underway soon. The lights on either side of the Williard building door on the Wharton Rd. side will be saved to be reused in the new development.

The achieved compromise means that no one is 100% satisfied,  but a common result was achieved, and that result is viewed by just about all involved as a very good one. There's still more work to be done though to make sure the end result IS good, so stay tuned...

 The following  conditional uses are legally being applied to the Williard application:

"The approval of this Conditional Use application is subject to the following conditions, which shall run with the land (by inclusion on the record plan of land development) and which shall be binding on the Developer, its successors and assigns:

1. Traffic impact.

a. During the land development process, the Developer shall provide a baseline projection of traffic growth and shall offer a comprehensive assessment of probable impact on the surrounding community; b. The Developer shall provide reasonable and appropriate traffic calming and mitigation measures during the land development process to reduce the potential impact of traffic on the surrounding community; c. The Developer shall provide updated traffic no later than six months after the initial date of full occupancy of each of the buildings, and again eighteen months after the initial date of full occupancy of each of the buildings. The developer shall provide to the Department of Code Enforcement an analysis of the impact of the development on the surrounding community based on this study. The methodology and scope of the supplemental studies shall be the same as provided for land development; and d. If the Department of Code Enforcement determines that traffic has increased above the baseline projection established by the study provided during land development, the Township shall recommend and the Developer shall implement reasonable additional traffic calming and mitigation measures to reduce the impact on the surrounding community. e. In order to mitigate the potential impact of traffic and provide for adequate on site parking, the Developer shall not lease more than 35,000 square feet, either individually or in combination, for uses F-2 Medical Clinic and/or F-3 Medical Office. Additionally, parking adjacent to the Stewart Avenue shall be held in reserve until the developer or the township determines that the parking will be required. f. Copies of all submissions of the Developer pursuant to the conditions in this section 1 and all reports and recommendations of the Department of Code Enforcement or other Township officials shall be provided to the Greater Glenside Civic Association (the “GGCA”) and made available at the Township offices for inspection and copying by any owner of property within a half-mile radius of the development prior to any decision or determinations concerning traffic calming or mitigation measures, and such persons shall have a right to present their own evidence and arguments concerning the adverse traffic impact on the surrounding community. 2. Architecture.

a. Street facades shall relate to adjacent properties in a positive and compatible manner; b. Facades without glazing on the ground floor shall be discouraged, especially when facing residential uses. Nonetheless, facades with no glazing may occur, provided that they include additional buffering or architectural character; c. As presented during the hearing, architectural modifiers will be employed to give the building appropriate scale and compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood. These modifiers may include, but are not limited to such elements as pilasters, columns, arches, height, plane or setbacks of adjacent building sections, reveals or other significant architectural features; d. No building shall exceed 150’ in length without significant architectural elements or modifiers to reduce mass and add character; e. The fitness center shall occupy only one building on the site; and, f. The Developer shall use the materials described in its testimony and other evidence to ensure that these materials are of sound quality and appropriate to the surrounding community.

3. Restaurant. With regard to the Use C-23 Restaurant, a minimum of 25% of the square footage shall be used for permanent seating.

4. Rights of Way and Landscape Buffers.

a. If the Township chooses to utilize the rights of way for road expansion, the Developer shall replace removed plantings and trees to meet buffer requirements; and, b. The Developer shall maintain all plantings in buffers and in street rights-of-way."

______________________________
 

6-12-08  The developer Duke has a plan for which he needs zoning modifications and have proposed an Overlay Ordinance,  Hearings for the Zoning Overlay Ordinance  will be held on July 16th,  7 pm at the township building ."Ordinance No. 1962 - Amending the Suburban Industrial District and Creating a New Suburban Industrial District Mixed Development Overlay District, Map Amendment and Conditional Use  Hearing for the Williard Property - 1938 Wharton Rd" 

The  current  the proposal includes a fitness center, office building, bank, and parking garage for the on-site users. The office building may include ONE restaurant and ONE retail store - both are size restricted and the restaurant may not be take-out.
   What the developers (Duke) will be presenting is a compromise solution reached with the GGCA, and with input from SPS, and the Township's Planning Commission.   It's been a collaborative process so far that has taken about 2 years, but GGCA's expectation is that Duke's proposal will ultimately be approved by the commissioners either at the 7/16/08 meeting or at a follow-up meeting. After that, the proposed ordinance must go before Land Development where more detailed traffic reports, landscape designs and architectural drawings are required. They will also be public meetings and probably GGCA reps will have more meetings with Duke beforehand."

 

5-21-08  The meeting scheduled for tonite has been cancelled. 
 

5-08   We believe the zoning overlay district - ie : a change in the zoning  specific just to the Williard property -  was approved at the April Commissioners meeting - though our next alert to the meeting on the 21st seems to indicate that that was just a first step. 

3- 25-08 The issue is scheduled for ( or went to? ) the planning commission  the 3/31/08  Code Enforcement Committee meeting, and then the  4/10/08, 8PM Board of Commissioners meeting.

The group so far  has succeeded in halting the supermarket proposal, and worked with  developer Duke Real Estate Partners, to provide significant input to the new proposed ordinance and the developer's architecture and design plan. Compromises were made on both sides.
A restaurant and retail space, but with very strict size and use limitations is possibly in the picture - along with  more green space provided by ripping up the parking lot across the street on Highland Ave.and sufficient and attractive landscaping on the Williard side. Because the economics of office space development in general are difficult at this time , medical/office/mixed use space issues are up in the air as of this writing

Unresolved concerns  --- traffic, and it's impact on the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods

12-6-07 Meeting with developer by delegates of the group.


12-4-07  Meeting of residents to share their ideas of  pictures or web site examples of architecture and design that they thought might work at Williard.
In particular looking for a mixed use scenario . Ie a  complex in North Carolina  called "Sutton Station" which has many of the same uses that many feel would be desirable :  a fitness/rehab facility, medical and professional offices, a dance school, and a limited amount of retail and restaurants. They include  residences which Williard would not . Their web site: www.suttonstation.com  .

About 8 resident "delegates"  were to be selected at the 12/4/07 meeting who will represent the general consensus of the community group & who would meet with Duke on Thursday, 12/6/07  to continue the design and architecture discussion.

 

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
 23 residents, 4 township officials, and 8 members of the Duke team met The residents hoped for more time to review the archictectural presentations .

 

10-07  Progress has been made .  Here was a mailing from Greater Glenside Civic Assoc  to Civic Group members and associates that encouragedthe sharing of this information  - It came with attachments of the proposed  plans - these can be found on the Greater Glenside Civic Assoc  site specifically on this page: http://home.comcast.net/~glensidecivic/meetings.htm 

"Each of you probably has neighbors on your street who are either new or do not have e-mail. We encourage you to print out this e-mail and put it at their doors.

Attached for your review in advance of the meeting are the documents Duke presented to attempt to summarize what was agreed to at our September 6, 2007 negotiation session. These include (i) a “conceptual plan” that attempts to portray visually what Duke intends to do with the property, if the necessary zoning ordinance can be passed; (ii) a proposed zoning amendment that Duke seeks our support for, to allow them to pursue the conceptual plan; and (iii) a proposed zoning map change that would accompany the ordinance. It is important for you to understand that it is the ordinance that will actually govern what can and can’t be done with the property and the ordinance does not necessarily limit Duke to the “conceptual plan.” It is therefore very important that you come to the meeting and understand the implications of the ordinance apart from the conceptual plan.

Developer’s Proposed Timetable:

Modifications to the ordinance based, in part, on feedback from the community -- between now and November 12, 2007.

Documents go to the Montgomery County Planning Commission by November 13, 2007.

Public Hearings before the Abington Township Commissioners at a public hearing on December 13, 2007.

Summary of Plan:

To make it easier to review the attachments, here is a high-level of summary of the conceptual plan:

3 main buildings with these primary uses: fitness center, office building, and bank.

Within the office building, the following uses are allowed: research facility, commercial school (possibly a dance school), medical offices, restaurant (not to exceed 3500 SF), retail shop and professional service (e.g. a copying service) with the total of both of them together not exceeding 7000 SF.

In addition, they would be allowed a parking garage not to exceed 3 stories.

The parking lot across the street from Williard (which Duke also owns) will be ripped up and replaced with green space. "

___________________________

7-06 - Will let the Greater Glenside Civic Association keep you up to date at http://home.comcast.net/~glensidecivic/williard.htm   As of now it looks like the zoning applications have been withdrawn .

1-21-07   A new proposal for a Zoning Change being offered for the Willard Property and several other parcels  together - get more info from the Greater Glenside Civic Assoc
 

08-30-2006 reprinted with permission from The Times Chronicle, montgomery newspapers
Williard zoning hearing on hold
By: Kyle Schulz , Staff Writer

A zoning hearing regarding the proposed ShopRite on the site of the Williard Inc. property located at the corner of Highland and Wharton avenues was continued last week.

There is no set date for the next hearing, but according to Abington Director of Planning and Code Enforcement Larry Matteo, the next hearing will be on or before Oct. 31.
The news of the continuance, which was requested by the applicant, Duke Real Estate Partners, came just two days before the scheduled Aug. 24 hearing. Matteo couldn't give an explanation for the continuance and seemed puzzled over the applicant's decision.
"I have no idea what they're doing," Matteo said.
According to Stan Casacio, a partner in Duke Real Estate Partners, the developers have been meeting with residents in an attempt to come up with new ideas for the site.
The developers decided to continue the hearing to discuss other options for the site including a medical research building and dormitories for Arcadia University or Penn State Abington.
Duke Real Estate Partners initially proposed construction of a 69,000-square-foot ShopRite, but that plan was met with opposition by several residents who were concerned about the traffic and noise impact on surrounding neighborhoods. Residents also said the supermarket could drive independent businesses such as Daryl's Pastries and O'Neill's Food Market out of business.
Casacio, however, played down that argument and said he doesn't believe a ShopRite will damage mom and pop businesses.
"They will be there as long as the community supports them," he said Tuesday.
Casacio said he does not understand the residents' hatred for the proposed supermarket, and said leaving the property as it stands will hurt the community.
"Something has to be developed here," he said. "This is bad for the neighborhood."
©Montgomery Newspapers 2006

8/24/06  The Zoning Meeting scheduled for tonite has been  cancelled . It is uncertain if the plan has been witdrawn - we will follow with more information as we get it .

4/06 Click here for a picture of the proposed shopping center...

4/17/06 - Neighbors' Meeting

INFORMATION SHEET PASSED OUT AT THE MEETING:
Facts about 375 Highland Avenue - The "Williard Property"

- Brick building originally owned by PECO; over 50 years old.
- Formerly owned by Williard.
- Currently zoned "suburban industrial."
- Sold to Duke Real Estate Partners for 5.3 million dollars in June 2005.
- The publicly stated intention of Duke is to tear down the brick building and construct a shopping center that contains a Shop Rite supermarket and state liquor store and a separate building that will contain a bank.
- The proposed construction by Duke is not permitted under the current "industrial" zoning, so Duke is seeking a "use variance" (* see below
) instead of changing the zoning to "commercial."
- Duke currently plans to go before the Abington Township Planning Board on April 25, 2006. (Note: the Planning Board is a preliminary step; only the Zoning Board can make zoning changes.)
* In order to obtain a "use variance," the developer must show that "hardship" exists with the property. An example of a hardship is if there has been difficulty either selling or using the property for an extended period of time because of its current zoning classification. That has not been the case with the Walton/ property since it was purchased shortly after it was put up for sale, and there is no evidence that a serious attempt has been made to find another use for it under its current "industrial" zoning classification.
Identity of our Neighborhood
- We are a "First Ring Suburb"—close enough to the city yet not too close; within walking distance to "town" (Keswick Village), public transportation, schools, services, and places of worship.
- No tract housing or "McMansions;" homes are all different and have character; most houses are 80-100 years old.
- We have front porches, sidewalks, on-street parking, and big trees. Kids play street hockey and basketball in the street, ride bikes and walk to school. Many people walk their dogs.
- We are organized: block parties, Kenmore Gazette, coordinated yard sales. We participate in the Keswick Village Merchants' and Residents' Association. Residents have planted flowers, cleaned-up and decorated Keswick Village on a regular basis.
- We are an intergenerational neighborhood with lots of families. Many folks have lived in some section of Glenside their whole lives.
Identity of Keswick Village ("KV")

- KV was made a priority by Abington Township during the revitalization of town centers. A ten year plan began in 1994 and addressed streetscape, traffic patterns and building improvements for KV.
- KV is considered a gateway to the Township. The Keswick Theater, a regional, 1,300 seat, upscale venue, serves as a main attraction.
- Unique shops and services; no big franchises; true family businesses—residents know the merchants; merchants live in the neighborhood and walk to work.
- Keswick Village adds value to our properties.
Concerns
- Increase in street traffic—higher volume of cars; steady stream of traffic. A supermarket is a 24-hour, 7-day a week business--not with shift changes, as with SPS.
- Extra traffic lights being proposed for the area will lead to more congestion.
- Kenmore Avenue being used as a though-street to dodge congestion.
- Safety of our children.
- No clear non-residential route for 18-wheeler trucks making deliveries. • Increased pollution in the area due to increase in traffic.
- A "strip mall" does not comply with the character of neighborhood or with the "town center" plan for Abington Township.
- Economic concern: "Shop Rite will not make us buy more food. Somebody will get less business and lose out." We don't want an empty Shop Rite either.
- Economic impact on Keswick Village—particularly O'Neill's and Abington Bank
- We don't need another food store, liquor store and bank.
- Demolishing an old, all-brick building. First ring suburbs tend to use old buildings for new purposes (e.g. Old Sears building became Target; Old Strawbridges building became offices and Outback Steak House; Old Wanamakers building became Old Navy, BBB, etc.; Old Hechingers became Raymour & Flannigan, etc.; Old Bloomingdales became Zany Brainy and offices.)
- Although seen as a contributor to our tax base, retail venues add more stress on our tax dollars: more trash, more traffic, more policing—shoplifting, loitering, crime.
What We'd Like to See In That Space:
- Bio-Tech Company
- Medical Office Space
- Over-55 Housing
- Performing Arts Center or a Cultural/Community Center
- Do not want 24-hour traffic.
- Not a strip mall.
- Something "organic" to the neighborhood and area; an extension of our neighborhood.
- Something non-threatening to Keswick Village, but complementary.
- Something that does not require adding traffic lights.
___________________________________________________________________

4/3/06  Information about this issue is currently being gathered  .Comcast Channel 66 Abington News and Views aired the first Town meeting held a week or so ago with the developer.

Residents should also be very concerned about the Channel 43 issue as they may not be able to attend all the Planning Commission and other meetings etc and can help us right now to get these issues aired so they can watch them at home and/or set their VCR's. The next meeting  for Channel 43 is set for April 5th - but whether or not you can attend you can give us your name and your Commisssioner's name so we can include you in among those that want it done! Just click here.

  Contact lel@abingtoncitizens.com if you need to be put in touch with the organizers of this issue

     Please feel free to send your  view  and please be sure to  write Shop Rite in the Title/Subject Box of your email - write  lel@abingtoncitizens.com

 

 

BROKEN LINKS ALERT  

Abington Township recently completely revamped their website at the end of 2015 . All links directed to the old site were broken. We will be reinstating links as we find them and if the data is still available.  
Please  let us know if you find a broken link . Send us the name of the link and the page it is on , and if we can reinstate it, we will.

 


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