The Williard Property - 375 Highland Avenue
Next to Standard Pressed Steel
Now called Switchville Crossing
Greater Glenside Civic Association has a history of the
and may have updates & other info about the development if the
links are working. Try: :
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Greater Glenside Civic
Assoc site specifically on this page:
"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
Developer’s Proposed Timetable:
Modifications to the ordinance based, in part, on
feedback from the community -- between now and November 12,
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)
ripped up and replaced with green space. "
7-06 - Will let the Greater Glenside Civic Association keep
you up to date at
As of now it looks like the zoning applications have been
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
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
"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
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
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
©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 .
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
- 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
* 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Kenmore Avenue being used as a though-street to dodge
- Safety of our children.
- No clear non-residential route for 18-wheeler trucks making
deliveries. • Increased pollution in the area due to increase in
- A "strip mall" does not comply with the character of
neighborhood or with the "town center" plan for Abington
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
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