I have written before how I feel that Malvern’s super-sizing via the Eli Kahn development on King Street is a huge mistake.
In March, the Daily Local had one of its nameless editorial columns on it. As was the case with a couple nameless, faceless editorials on West Vincent, they were off the mark on Malvern too. And honestly, part of my problem with these editorial is that if you want to go incognito on a blog, that is one thing, but if you are writing for a large local and regional paper, sign your name.
So the Daily Local said at the time:
At a recent meeting of the Malvern Business and Professional Association, developer Eli Kahn told the group about his plans to transform East King Street in the borough, now home to small industrial complexes, into a vibrant residential and retail swath that he calls “a walkable environment … a better environment to work in.”
Kahn is the man who with his partner Jack Loew purchased two large buildings from Chester County in West Chester’s so-called “first block,” ….In Malvern, Kahn said he had gotten the idea 12 years ago to begin work on a new mixed-use environment there. He said the five-year venture in 18 months will produce 25,000 square feet of retail space with “quality residential” space above it and expanded parking below and outside…“Success is a mix of business, shopping and quality residential,” he said. “West Chester has been very successful over the past five years,” and a like result can occur here. “The charm of Malvern is what’s making this project successful.”
We hope that Kahn will continue his efforts to be forthcoming about plans for the West Chester property. It sounds as though he is on the right track in Malvern.
I went to the site today while running errands. I was profoundly disturbed by what I saw, and can easily envision for the future. Yes, it is a site that should be redeveloped. But why not a park and a couple of stores? Or something Malvern lacks? Sufficient parking?
Malvern Patch also has covered this development. Much like The Daily Local has. The Daily Local has also covered the Kahn-ism of West Chester too. In both cases, I feel in my heart of hearts, this will when all said and done, like letting the proverbial fox in the hen-house.
West Chester has a good formula in their downtown now, which I saw more of this morning when I went to the West Chester Grower’s Market. Carolyn Comitta and Holly Brown better keep their heads on right, lest they ruin a good thing.
Developers always say the right thing when they come a courting, but what happens when they leave?
Which brings me back to Malvern. You know what I think Eli Kahn and Jack Loew’s project is going to be like when it is done? A super-sized Charleston Greene. And over the years, how has Toll’s Charleston Greene worked for you ,Malvern?
As I went back and forth through Malvern today, checking the streetscape, I had to wonder if they needed super-sized development anymore than Ardmore, PA does? In Ardmore, the residents wanted a new train station which may never appear in anyone’s lifetimes now, but on Monday apparently there is a press conference about the work beginning on the Paoli Transportation Center.
As I said before, as long as I can remember has had an unfortunate identity crisis – mostly stemming from local officials as opposed to residents. The borough of Malvern has a charm that doesn’t need super-sizing with giant Tyvec wrapped buildings that will end up looking like a New Urbanism Disneyland.
Malvern will sacrifice any charm of the area and the traffic will be a nightmare.
I think parts of Malvern may end up looking as unattractive as parts of Eagle, another tiny community developers had a “vision” for. When municipalities suffer an identity crisis, the residents and business owners are the ones who suffer in the end.
I sure hope I am wrong about Malvern and these plans, but I don’t think so. What I see are future buildings just sitting right on the street without sufficient setbacks like Jabba the Hutt, architecture (if you can call it that) that picks up zero cues from its surroundings, over-abundance of density abutting train tracks and an urban feel all wrong for a somewhat sleepy and small Chester County borough town.
And mark my words, just because they build it it does not mean they will come. And if they come, they might not be what you wanted.
But the horse is out of the barn on this one. So we’ll just wait and see. Hopefully I won’t be able to say I told you so. But again, honestly, I think Malvern had better enjoy Malvern before it’s gone.