This is not a long post. Mostly visual. It shows a plan that is all wrong for this area.
When the plan first began in Easttown along Lancaster Avenue, the structure was purely penile.
Now it is hulking thing with a complete lack of human scale. The design aesthetic is also lacking. Given where it’s going it will remain lacking and look like an ugly institution when complete. And would anyone feel safe walking on the sidewalk in front of this building? How could you?
And these aren’t places people will stay in and raise families. This is housing that is transient, people stay a while and then move on. And none of these places are inexpensive, either. Once again it is yet another Chester County development project without any affordable housing units. And once again, I will remind people that affordable housing isn’t just subsidized or “section 8“ housing, affordable housing is also where people begin their lives with their first homes often in communities where they grew up, and move into when they want to stay in their communities as they age and have decided to downsize.
This project along with whatever gets built where Handel’s currently is will create a truly cavernous effect. Neither of these projects will reflect the community they are in, none of these monstrosities do anywhere. Urban canyons don’t belong in suburbia.
Did I mention how ugly I find them? Of course I have. And I know this post will provoke some comments of why do I think I can say anything about this etc. etc. To them I reply, I can say something because we all can express ourselves on these projects good, bad, or indifferent.
I have to say it’s no wonder Easttown Township doesn’t want their meetings televised or recorded. Then everyone would hear how the residents object to these plans and this township just does not even listen even when it comes to design standards.
Landfills are a dirty business. Literally. East Whiteland has good old Knickerbocker as a subject of a public hearing on Wednesday, August 11th. It will be a hybrid meeting which means you can go in person or you can go via Zoom.
So what do you do with an old landfill? Kind of depends what’s in it doesn’t it? What is even in Knickerbocker? Honestly I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want to live in a housing development where it used to be, would you? The family that owns the landfill wants to sell it and selling it isn’t a problem it’s what the prospective owner a developer wants to do with it which presents issues, correct?
People have been writing to me about the proposed developer-beneficial zoning changes at Knickerbocker. I have decided to share one message because it’s informative:
📌 Hi here is information regarding the BOS meeting on 8/11 in East Whiteland for the rezoning of Knickerbocker. Our BOS are allowing things ot happen that make me wonder….Things of note – the restrictive covenant will be modifiable. WTH? That means the township and/or developer can change it after it’s approved or TERMINATE it. It’s supposed to provide restrictions and protection. It also allows for stacked townhomes and – wait for it – the former landfill will be placed in the homeowner’s association. Sneaky!!! So the new homeowners will be liable if anything will go wrong with the landfill – and you know it will. Here is the link to it if you would like to share. This is the last chance the residents will have to take a stand against it. Also I have heard that the meeting will be virtual and in-person hybrid. https://www.eastwhiteland.org/DocumentCenter/View/2146/Voluntary-Declaration-of-Restrictive-Covenant-RRHC-clean-7821📌
Oh East Whiteland….sigh….y’all just want to kick every can down the road until someday there will be this giant expensive pile of cans to deal with, right?
So East Whiteland’s Supervisor meeting will have a packed agenda tomorrow August 11th. (Click HERE for agenda.)
This all gives me pause, but will it give the supervisors pause? I think two out of the three will be full steam ahead caution be damned. Because that is what two out of the three supervisors always do. The developer will remind everyone again they are local, and to that I would say well dude then you really should present better plans but I am but a mere mortal and a female blogger, right?
Residents and concerned citizens, you need to giddy-up to this meeting. Especially if you are on the side of the township where this plan would be built.
Once again I will be honest and say there is TOO much development Chester County. And maybe people wouldn’t object to so many plans if there weren’t so many bad plans.
Last night I attended the virtual East Whiteland Historic Commission Meeting. One of the people presenting were representatives of the Great Valley School District.
You see, they are now faced with supersizing the elementary school campus. But nooooo of course it’s not due to wanton development in the area. Since the meeting occurred on St. Patrick’s Day I guess it was leprechauns just not being nice to them or something. Sorry not sorry for the deep sarcasm.
Anyway, the reason they were there as they want to tear things down and build new things and so on. But the district representatives did not like when I commented on the fact that school districts everywhere seem to do this following large swaths of new development in various communities. They will basically tell you it’s not true and everyone knows it’s true.
Of course I also commented that all those school districts are autonomous from municipalities, it’s still somewhat of a codependent relationship and I never for the life of me will understand why school districts won’t be honest and say “hey that’s too much development for us to handle.”
Again, sorry not sorry pointing out the truth.
I had to go out to Exton at the beginning of the week for a medical appointment. As I went up Route 30 from Malvern, I was again struck by the sheer volume of development I saw just there along that road. Every square inch that can be developed is being developed.
People are talking about the Ship Inn being for sale. Now that makes me sad because that is a very historic place. That used to be one of my landmarks years ago when I was going to a friend’s house further west. It was always this cheerful beacon on the road and so pretty and historic. Hopefully it survives.
But right where it’s located is at the vortex of a development tsunami. It’s West Whiteland and they are definitely one of the municipalities that can’t say yes fast enough to new development. Once upon a time I found these historic photos of Exton before all the development started. Night and day.
But it’s not just one municipality it’s more like pick a municipality. Look at East Whiteland. Do we really think the school district would be considering expansion if they weren’t out of room because of all the influx of people due to development? I mean come on let’s get real.
Go a little further east and you look at Tredyffrin and Eastown. Is the school district there not experiencing the same problems and need for expansion? It’s because of all the development, right? It doesn’t matter if it’s single-family McMansions, fake carriage houses, town houses, apartments, condos whatever you want to call them they are bringing people into our districts. The interesting thing is I still don’t necessarily believe that the economy is following the people so I wonder about the long-term sustainability but that’s another conversation for another day.
Go to other areas in Chester County and look at other districts. The West Chester Area School District is a monster it’s so big now. Owen J Roberts is huge, and so is Downingtown. And when you get out to areas like Elverson the kids actually go to school in a dual county district . This school district is Twin Valley, and it services two counties and like seven municipalities.
If you go east out of Chester County down to the Main Line, look at Lower Merion School District. The nasty eminent domain battles and fights because why? Because there are so many people coming into that district they needed to build another middle school. Now that middle school is going to be right on the border of Radnor Township which also has development worries of its own and only has one high school which is pretty crowded from what I’m told these days.
Of course in the case of Lower Merion School District and the location of their new school I have to ask what volunteer fire company is going to be responsible for that big complex? Especially when fire companies are going to be faced with the ongoing super sizing of both Bryn Mawr and Ardmore? So will that necessitate an additional fire company being built? Where would that go? And maybe it’s time for all fire companies to consider more paid staff because I think the volunteers are spread a little thin don’t you?
When are municipalities going to wake the hell up and realize the songs and tales of the Pied Piper-like developers and the Emperor’s new clothes they strew about are ruining our communities?
These developers are marching through our communities leaving overcrowding in school districts and stressed municipal services and infrastructure in their wake. And the Municipalities Planning Code ( aka the MPC), the Bible on which local development and zoning is based, allows all of this. It also allows all of the crazy zoning overlay districts which allow developers to get more and more into our communities.
The MPC was created at the end of the 1960s and I think it was signed in to being in 1970. It contains the extraordinarily outdated definitions of suburbs and exurbs that are still fueling all of this development today. And it’s got to stop. There needs to be a comprehensive update. And that update needs to contain language that actually protects our communities from over development. It needs to contain language that has more meaningful historic preservation and land preservation.
No matter where we live we are drowning in crappy new construction. And people don’t like when I say that because you know they’re reading this post from their McMansion. Well talk to me in 20 years and see how your house endures time and wear. I mean look at all the people alone who have had to remediate stucco in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
These developers roll into communities, they make a lot of money, they offer municipal rabbits the tiny baby carrots of ratables and they just move onto the next project. Or they will say to a municipality that they really care about the community in which they want to over develop because they live there? What do they really care about: the community or how much money they’re making?
Oh wait? What is that I hear? Oh that would be the chorus of I hate all development coming from some of you reading this post. I don’t hate all development but I really dislike the volume and lack of quality of the development we are seeing today. Why on earth do developers think that here in bucolic Chester County we want to see things that look like fake industrial?
And then there are the developers who basically take the same design and apply it to projects in multiple municipalities. Do they really think the public is that stupid? I mean maybe the local politicians are but not necessarily the people that live in these municipalities. Do we really want to live in developer created Stepford Land?
I have seen development in other areas, even urban areas that are clever and they actually have architectural design to them. Or they’re wonderful examples of adaptive reuse. My favorite recent example is something in Philadelphia called The Gotham. It was originally The Gotham Silk Factory, as in stockings. This project is amazing. It pays homage to its past yet it’s modern and new. It’s really cool. It proves you can meld old with new and come up with a good product.
But people, we have to start taking back our communities. We need to hold elected officials accountable. And even if they tell us there is nothing that they can do we still hold them accountable. And we need to find better replacements from within our communities and move these people out.
If you change the face of who governs you you can start to enact change in communities. But if it’s just the same old people sitting there year after year we are just going to keep on getting more of what we don’t like where we call home. That’s not just with local municipalities that’s with state representatives and state senators as well. So far with regard to the newbies in office on the state level I’m not really impressed. And there are some who skated in for additional terms riding on the coattails of others and they never impress me at all.
These are our communities. We deserve more of a say. But in order to have more of a say we all have to become more proactive within our communities. that starts with attending meetings. While they are all virtual, it’s much easier, so please take advantage of it. Pick a meeting and participate.
Today social media groups on the Main Line are all abuzz about a particular development plan. It is proposed for Bryn Mawr. I think it’s awful.
It is the same developer apparently as the “Berwyn Square” that Eastown just said no to. Which was truly remarkable because Eastown never says no to anything.
I didn’t just connect the dots to all these development plans, Savvy Main Line did it for us (CLICK HERE FOR SAVVY)
Too. Damn. Much. Development.
The Bryn Mawr plan is shocking. Having grown up on the Main Line, and especially because where I went to high school was Shipley which is in Bryn Mawr, I spent a lot of years in Bryn Mawr. And I can tell you a great deal of the wonderful “village” feel disappeared when Bryn Mawr Hospital supersized. But a plan like this? I think it would kill what is left of the small town Main Street kind of vibe.
Obviously I no longer live in Lower Merion so even though I sent the commissioner for the ward that contains Bryn Mawr an email, I know my opinion doesn’t matter, I just gave it anyway. I figure he owes it to me to listen since way back when he wanted to become a commissioner in the first place a group I was part of helped him get elected.
The other reality of this plan and if you look at the last screenshot in this post it shows a rendering of sorts, and it also totally doesn’t show you what that Lancaster Ave (Route 30) intersection in Bryn Mawr is really like. It is an extraordinarily busy and accident prone intersection. It’s where Morris Avenue ends and Bryn Mawr Ave. begins. It’s where Ludington library is, the main and original branch of Bryn Mawr Trust Company is there. It’s where the train station is and a block or so from where the hospital begins.
The above photo was taken in 2007. One of the many accidents at this intersection. This particular accident I believe resulted in the fatality of the driver in the car in front of the bus. I also had another friend who was hit pushing her babies across the street in a stroller on a pedestrian walk signal at this corner. At that time, there was an NBC10 report on that accident.
No one is going to say that the building currently on the corner where they are proposing to put this apartment development is attractive. It’s never been attractive. But every development that is proposed is overly dense no matter where you live and whichever township or county you call home.
The above photo is a development in progress in Downingtown. Another massive development. And none of these developments are particularly distinguishable from each other. Which is why I find great humor in the “brynmawr square“ and “Berwyn Square” development proposals
Above you see the development often discussed in East Whiteland. I don’t understand how the people who are paid to do the planning for these townships as well as elected officials have no vision.
At the end of the day this is why we desperately need to update the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This amount of development is not sustainable. And I will never believe the emperor’s new clothes fairytale that it is.
It’s very sad that it has come to this, but pick the township, town, and county and there’s always a bad development plan or several bad development plans. We are the ones that live in these communities and it’s time for elected officials to start listening to us.
Now granted, what was there before on the corner of Willow Ave and Plant Ave in the Little Chicago was known to many (myself included) as “the scary house.”
But I do not get why Radnor Township allows this kind of crap with zero design aesthetic to go up? The only thing this building is about is maximizing developer money making capability.
This is a prime example of how municipalities are dropping the ball. The trend of density and in this case serious infill density is ruining communities everywhere.
Directly opposite where this looming monstrosity is being built is relatively new construction. And what was built? Two pretty nice twin houses. This is an older neighborhood of what were historically smaller houses with neat back yards. Not the grand Victorians a couple of blocks over and it’s certainly not really urban.
Yet here’s this block house structure. And even worse in an area that redefines what it is to flood in even just a heavy downpour? They are totally built out on the footprint of the property. Where is the parking going to be?
Anyway this development gets an F. It truly is ugly. And is so out of place.
Please pardon me while I barf all over your saccharine sweet ridiculous glossy postcard you mailed me today. My apologies, truly, part of it is because I am sick and part of it is because, well, I simply can’t stomach anymore developer drivel.
Who are you to judge the living I “deserve”? I live quite nicely in Chester County. I have an actual home that isn’t made of plastic and plywood.
Why on earth would you think I wanted the urban Stepford plasticness of a non-organic fake neighborhood next to a highway? Especially because I live in a real neighborhood with real people?
I know, I know you want to sell everyone on the plastic houses that would be so lovely next to the elite blue lagoon of the old quarry lake. You know the one that no one has sufficiently fenced around yet?
The East Whiteland supervisors and staff like the director of building and planning are salivating and counting the ratables before they are hatched completely ….I get that. But it doesn’t necessarily mean build it and they will come. Of course they might all come and then it’s going to be like part of Chester County has turned into King of Prussia West. Or Bensalem, pick your development.
Your “lake views” are as fake as the architecture you are touting here. That isn’t an actual lake it’s a toxic body of water left over from the days of quarries. If you were smart you would have fenced that in properly by now, but I predict it will take something awful happening before you actually do – presuming you guys own that since I don’t know who actually owns it.
As far as I’m concerned everything being built over at Atwater is just developer blight on the horizon and density that we aren’t going to be able to handle in a few years. And the schools certainly will bear the brunt of this and municipal and other services as well. And the roads are already groaning.
But hey like everyone else’s development plans, it’s like all of yours exist in a tiny bubble with a green Elysian field surrounding it…. And in this case also bordering an unnaturally blue, toxic “lake”.
I’m sure by now you’re sorry I am on your mailing list. Trust me the feeling is mutual.
Just me, mocking bad developments proudly for decades.