Two High Rises to Go Up in Conshohocken

A Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based real estate developer is planning to transform the gateway to Conshohocken by adding two new high rise buildings, a public parking garage and a plaza within a five minute walk of a SEPTA regional rail station.

Keystone Property Group is presenting its latest iteration of One Conshohocken -- a mixed-use development set for the approximately 5-acre parcel at the corner of Fayette and West Elm streets -- to the Conshohocken Borough Council Wednesday evening.

"It is not another suburban site where you drop a box in a parking area," said Bill Glazer of KPG. "This will create an urban feel in a suburban market."

The proposal includes a 16-story hotel, a 14-story office tower and a 6-level parking garage, according to Glazer.

The firm plans to seek tax increment financing, or TIF funds, from the state to subsidize the $200 million project, which will require demolition of several other properties already standing on the site.

The developer has not yet secured tenants for any of the properties, but interest in the 200-room hotel, which will feature a rooftop lounge and pool, is strong, Glazer said.

"We have gotten a tremendous amount of interest from a number of [major hotels] so by the time we break ground we'll hopefully have secured the right [one] for that development," said Glazer, who added the central plaza is the highlight of the development.

"That's really a phenomenal center piece for Conshohocken as a community," he said, "because it offers a central gathering point between the growing waterfront space and the very walkable downtown."

And the "gem" of the plaza will be the 137-year-old Conshohocken Fire Company station, which will be converted into a gastropub that has both indoor and outdoor seating, Glazer said.

KPG plans to start construction on the hotel in spring 2015. Ground breaking on the 300,000-square-foot office building, which will also have green space on its rooftop, will follow once a major corporate tenant signs on, Glazer said.

Depending on the corporate tenant's needs, the plan includes an option to build a second office building on West Elm Street between Oak Street and the fire house.

That building's design is not yet finalized, but Glazer estimates it would likely total 200,000-square-feet and stand 10-stories tall.

Each commercial building will have ground-floor retail space, continuing the trend of walkable, mixed-use developments in Philadelphia.

The 6-level parking garage will appear to be only about 3-stories above ground since it will be built into the sloping landscape, he said. The deck will offer 300 free parking spaces to the community's residents and visitors.

If approved, One Conshohocken would create as many as 1,000 new permanent jobs, as well as hundreds of construction jobs, while supporting many of the goals outlined in the Borough's revitalization plan, Glazer said.

The plan, which was last updated in May 2011, aims to maintain and improve pedestrian traffic along Fayette Street's commercial corridor, strengthen the aesthetics of Conshohocken's downtown, and increase and diversify retail in the area, according to the Borough's planning and development committees.

Borough Manager Rich Manfredi does not anticipate the council will vote on the development during the meeting, which is scheduled for 7p.m. Wednesday at Borough Hall located at Fayette Street and 8th Avenue.

"The council will want to take time to consider a project of this magnitude," he said.

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