file under malvern borough does damage control?

malvernHow funny! This blog has “arrived” I suppose in Malvern Borough given the very amusing comment under the article I am about to post.

The article is about Malvern Borough and I presume the Malvern Business Association and borough is doing damage control in light of growing community discussion (including on this blog) on development in Malvern Borough. The article is authored by a writer whom I deeply respect, but I still find the article to be a little obvious on the part of the borough.

MalvernResident Comment1

“Certain blogs”? How funny! I suppose that must be yours truly? Well the reality is I have been at this a long time and I do not deal in “misinformation”. And in the same vein, they want you to believe opinion is bad and opinion is misinformation. Which of course we all know as intelligent and rational human beings is simply not true.

I have never pretended to live in Malvern Borough. Truthfully, I would never live in the borough given the local government issues, which while they ebb and flow always seem to be a problem. And it is highly insulting to say to people in neighboring communities in essence “all we care about is you coming to town and spending money. ” The reality is, none of us have to shop in Malvern Borough. There are some local merchants I try to support but if traffic and parking and development increase, I will go elsewhere. Life is too short.

As for developers? Can we put on the big kid pants for a moment? Developers develop to enhance their profit margins, not because they are secretly altruistic and love everybody to the moon and back. They build, take their profit, and move on. They aren’t “partners” in the community. However, not all developers are bad. I have some that I like. But I do not like what Eli Kahn has done. East Side is too big, too hulking and someone left a comment on my last post about fire trucks? Here (and I quote):

Mary Crawford on October 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm said:

It is my understanding that the fire department in Malvern is unable to service the building in the back as the trucks do not have access. Now the behemoth is in danger of burning faster due to lack of planning. Wasn’t Eli Kahn on the planning Commission? How can you not plan on a fire at some point? All hoses must come in through the front door or through the roof.

Now I know nothing of Eli Kahn and the planning commission, I thought he was part of the business association or something?

The horse is out of the barn on East Side flats and yes I think they are huge and hulking and lacking human scale. And yes I am saying that as a neighbor but not resident of Malvern Borough.

I think Malvern Borough sells itself short by allowing density and development that does not mesh with the small town character of low and old Main Street buildings and Victorian and other older homes on the side and connecting streets to King.

Yes it is my opinion that Malvern Borough should hit a pause button and see how East Side flats fare for a few years before committing to additional large-scale development. And yes I think they need to be more selective about infill development in general.

My opinions are based on research and what I have seen happen in other communities where local government wouldn’t listen to residents and where development has not only torn the communities asunder, it has not delivered the promised pathways of gold.

Azar Habib

The comment above is amusing too. This is the guy who decided on my last post that this little woman was going to see it his way or else. Towns and boroughs should not be hard to drive through. It hardly means that people want to go there, it only means that they can’t get through there….and no we don’t need another sprawl mall or series of big box stores, but what do you think goes hand in hand with those development-wise? And there is still no lack of blight in Malvern Borough. Parts of King around the Flying Pig are prime examples. And just building new buildings is not going to make pre-existing blight go away. But incentives aimed at business property owners might help. State grants for facades and sidewalks and whatever. Not much of that money is around but why not have State Reps and the State Senator seek things like that out?gables

There is this whole build it and they will come mentality. But what is it they are building and who is it who is coming and will they stay? Malvern is a SMALL town. How many apartments does it need, and will apartment dwellers really add to the long term tax base or will they just be more transients passing through?

The only way to decide this is to not grow all at once, but in stages. Which is why Malvern should try living with the hulking behemoth that is Eastside Flats and not rush to approve a 600+ unit Transit Oriented Development (“TOD”) project and other high density infill development.

And one other thing about this Malvern Business Association? Don’t they encompass OUTSIDE the borough too? Into Frazer? What are they thinking about the Route 30 business corridor in Frazer? With the landscape that is dotted with dangerously blighted and crumbling buildings? You know like the former Malvern Meetinghouse that is SO bad that East Whiteland is thinking of condemning it and there is speculation of homeless living in it? Or all the odd rental properties that house a lot of transient immigrant workers that look like they are ready to cave in on themselves the properties are so ill-kempt? Do they know about that sinkhole in the parking lot that appears and disappears where the Frazer Post Office and Nudy’s Café is?

I find it amusing that a couple of columns by Henry Briggs and a couple of blog posts and some limited public discussion has the PR machines revving up in Malvern Borough. Apparently a nerve has been struck I guess?

Anyway, I will keep on offering my opinion when and if the spirit moves me. My opinion is Malvern Borough is one hot mess now and all this development won’t improve it. And that is a shame. I still feel they should embrace their inner small town and work on improving what is already there. Especially since no one knows what Septa is doing. They could cut service past Paoli again, they have done it before.

But the mentality of everyone has to be OK with this is wrong. Everyone shouldn’t be ok with this. There needs to be meaningful community input and there hasn’t been. Just deals made between the Mayor, Borough Council and Developers. The only positive I see in this hot mess thus far is the addition of Kimberton Whole Foods and Christopher’s to the business district. Here’s hoping we’ll all be able to park and patronize them when they open.

At the end of the day I can’t see this from my window. Thank goodness. But I have seen what happens elsewhere, so I can tell you that if this all steamrolls ahead without thought and planning, Malvern Borough will end up hating what they created but will merely leave it for future generations to fix.

What happens in Malvern Borough will also affect OUTSIDE of the borough in neighboring municipalities.

Here is the article:

Malvern warming up to Eastside Flats

Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013

By Caroline O’Halloran
cohalloran@mainlinemedianews.com
@carolineohallo

Now that it’s finally taken shape, Malvern appears to be warming up to Eastside Flats, the mammoth mixed-use project on East King Street that has radically changed the face of the borough.

“The majority of people are excited, especially for the new retail coming to town,” said Malvern Mayor Jerry McGlone.

Public concerns about the $48 million, five-acre complex have mostly focused on traffic and parking, but “we worked with the developer to get that right,” McGlone said, “and the concerns seem to have disappeared.”

One level of a bi-level 330-space parking garage has been set aside for shoppers and a surface lot will hold 84 cars.

“Parking won’t be an issue,” promised David Della Porta, president of Cornerstone Communities, the project’s developer in partnership with Eli Kahn and Gary Toll….“It’s big; there’s no question about it,” said McGlone. “But they’ve done a nice job with the façade. And people forget how blighted the area was. To have a residential/retail complex like this is such a big improvement.”

Della Porta said he hasn’t heard any complaints. “If people don’t like what they’re seeing, they’re being polite and keeping it to themselves,” he said. “We’ve gotten more notes, calls and accolades on this project than for any other one we’ve been involved with.”

Pat Reeser, president of the Malvern Business and Professional Association, admits that local opinion has been mixed

Sigh….it’s all alrighty in Spin City….

malvern canyon

m2A few days ago Eli Kahn said in a Malvern Patch article there were “no flaws in East King design.” (You know other than the buildings are cavernous, hulking, have barely any set backs, and is utterly out of scale with the rest of tiny, small town Malvern.)

So I took some photos today.  Take a peek.  I still say this is Malvern’s mistake.  But I don’t think a super urban looking man-made canyon with zero attention paid to anything other than this developer’s towering edifice to his own legacy enduring or otherwise is the way to go in a very small town.

m6

At the bottom is the rendering of this guy’s Valhalla. I took these photos today because it doesn’t even look like the same street in reality to me. I think the sheer lack of human scale and lack of set backs is profoundly disturbing.m8

The developers might not appreciate my opinion, but I am entitled to it and it is shared by a LOT of people.

This is a New Urbanism Nightmare, not Fairy Tale.

m7

malvern’s hulking development

malvern-2Focus on Malvern Borough continues.  The past couple of weeks I have been through Malvern Borough a lot.  Just the luck of the draw. But driving up King  past the “magnificence” being created by Eli Kahn and David DellaPorta is enough to give me nightmares.

This development which they are pretentiously calling Eastside Flats is unimaginative and looks like hulky, looming Lego buildings that are creating a complete canyon effect in tiny Malvern.

Of course on their  artist renderings it is a veritable Vahalla with sweeping land and streetscapes.  The reality is the street is narrow and at night it is the same canyon effect and feel that you get on dark streets in downtown Manhattan…only this is Chester County.

rendering

There is nothing about what is being built that truly ties into the quaint Borough of Malvern.  The horse is out of the barn, so no bells can be un-rung, but lordy is what is being constructed ugly with a capital U. And I can’t wait to say I told you so on the parking. I predict it will be a problem upon completion.  It looks like a problem now but I am just a mere mortal and a female. I feel sorry for any house or pre-existing small business that has to exist with this development.

malvern 4

And oh yes, the Whip has bailed so there is no cute anchor restaurant at present:

The Whip Owner Cites Design Flaws in East King Decision

‘We were really excited about Malvern,’ said tavern owner Casey Kulp, who last year had considered moving into the borough.

By Pete Kennedy Email the author March 11, 2013

malvern 3

The owner of The Whip Tavern in Unionville said design shortcomings were behind his decision to cancel plans to open a second location on Malvern’s East King Street.

In a phone interview, Casey Kulp cited an insufficient kitchen ventilation system as one of the reasons he decided against opening in Malvern, after expressing interest in the idea in 2012….

In a recent interview, Kahn declined to comment on the circumstances of the change in The Whip’s plans.

Kulp said he thinks they’ll have a difficult time getting restaurants into the space

And speaking of restaurants, what is the deal with parking at The Great American Pub at 516 King Street in Paoli?  As in how do they have sufficient parking? We almost went there last week for a quick bite to eat but opted against it because the only place to park was in that small neighborhood adjoining the restaurant and we did not want to take up residents’ parking at dinner time.

What municipality is that in?  Willistown? Wow they sure approach things in a very interesting manner don’t they?  They deny Woodlawn a business expansion in an existing structure on their property with ample parking yet they allow The Great American Pub to act like a bar leech and take all parking of a small neighborhood? The parking is a hot mess and I wonder exactly where the valets are dumping cars, don’t you?

Circling back to the original topic, one more article on Malvern’s development atrocity. Somewhat of a fluffy article from the Inquirer that buys David DellaPorta’s New Urbanism Fairy Tale hook line and sinker. (He has been spouting it for years every time he proposes anything.)  Malvern isn’t the town time forgot, it is a little borough that has a borough council that was dumb enough to think supersizing will fix all woes. Urbanization of exurbia.  Oh yeah, so fabulous because we all want to live in the inner city, right?  They are just doing suburban sprawl of a different kind.

Malvern apartment complex nears completion after 10 years in the works

By Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: February 05, 2013

The developer calls Malvern “the town that time forgot” – its main street lined with Victorian-style houses, small boutiques, and local watering holes like the Flying Pig Saloon.

But Eli Kahn and his partners are betting that a $45 million apartment and retail complex on East King Street will help satisfy urban appetites in one of the region’s most venerable suburbs – and entice empty nesters and young professionals looking for a citified environment outside the city.

Construction on the East King Street redevelopment project began in June and includes two large apartment buildings with 190 units, plus first-floor retail space that Kahn envisions renting to restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques. The complex, due for completion in August, also is to house a Whole Foods grocery.

Kahn and his partner, David Della Porta, spent several years buying 11 parcels on the site, and the project has been a decade in the making. A house on one small parcel remains because an elderly resident didn’t want to leave her home and declined to sell, Kahn said.

Kahn said developments such as his – projects that emphasize urbanization over suburban sprawl – could be the wave of the future in the region…

On Thursday, Kahn sidestepped mud puddles and several employees in hard hats as the wind whipped around the corner of the almost-completed apartment complex. Construction was slightly behind schedule because of a cold snap followed by windy weather, but Kahn was optimistic.

“This has been a 10-year journey,” he said. “It’s incredibly satisfying, to add to a little town like Malvern. It’s exciting.”

This development in Malvern has never in my humble opinion really been about the town of Malvern.  If this was really about the town, the design would have been more complimentary.  This project is all about developer pork and profit.  Let’s not delude ourselves to the contrary. What will eventually happen here is people will start to avoid going through Malvern like they are starting to avoid going through Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, and even Wayne because of a lack of parking and congestion.

chester county and development…not so perfect together?

Today when the news came that Brian O’Neill was continuing with Uptown Worthington’s next phase, I was not one of the ones cheering.  First I thought of my former township (Lower Merion) and the O’Neill projects in moth balls and sites looking shabby. Then I started to think about the development I have seen since I moved to Chester County, and I am concerned.

No one wants to turn their back on progress, but at what price comes progress?  For example, let us not forget Malvern Borough’s $60,000 mistake on East King Street. You know? Eli Kahn’s New Urbanism Fairy Tale?  In July, Kahn and his partners David Della Porta and Gary Toll did the old soft shoe and a rah-rah ground breaking.

With regard to Malvern, I will say again, 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?

A friend said to me a little while ago “You can’t spend other people’s money and
generate prosperity. ” 

There is food for thought.  Also to think about quite seriously is what Tredyffrin did last night other than not apologize for cyber-bullying the delightful and devoted and hard working community champion Pattye Benson.   They approved the C-1 Zoning Change. Now, basically, a LARGE death farm, excuse me, senior assisted living facility will grow on a rather SMALL site on Lancaster Avenue.  You know, where Jimmy Duffy’s Catering Company used to reside?

Interestingly enough, this new development is from a Tredyffrin resident who put the residents of Bala Cynwyd through the ringer for another awkward site senior assisted living facility around 2009. Main Line Media News said at the time:

Further township discussion of a controversial Bala Cynwyd development plan has been postponed until next month.

Developer Ed Morris of Traditional Properties LP had hoped to take his new plan for an assisted-living facility at 27-33 Old Lancaster Road to Lower Merion commissioners this week….Morris got zoning-hearing board approval in late July of a special exception to build a “home for the aged” on the parcels, which today are occupied by two single-family homes. The stone colonial houses would be demolished.

The plan was a switch from development plans approved by the township in 2006 for a four-story, 21-unit condominium building. Morris has said that marketing efforts to sell units in the proposed building were not successful as the housing market stalled….A number of residents in surrounding neighborhoods in Bala Cynwyd and Merion objected to the change in direction, saying that the assisted-living facility is a more commercial use, out of character with the area.

Oh my goodness!  Is this not an eerie sense of déjà vu?  Don’t I remember original plans for the Jimmy Duffy site being different, albeit equally unwelcome to neighboring Daylesford residents? (And Ed Morris like Brian O’Neill was featured in an article a few years ago in Main Line Today called Condo Mania)

How many developments do we need?  Does Chester County want to end up a congested mess with limited open space like much of the Main Line?

I noticed on Malvern Patch that a lot of people are excited by the idea of MORE mall at Uptown Worthington based upon the comments.  I, on the other hand, am concerned.

It wasn’t too long ago that this developer was embroiled in nasty, nasty litigation over this site.  And how will this phase of construction affect people? Remember the first phase? And look at the 100 year PennDOT 202 project right there right now. It really isn’t a 100 year project, but given how PennDOT does business it might as well be.

Then there is the thought of how many malls and mall like places do we need?   Exton is but minutes away with the Exton Square Mall, Main Street at Exton and the countless other smaller strip malls in and around it.  King of Prussia is also fairly close with the giant King of Prussia Mall and all the other various and assorted strip malls and sub-developments in the vicinity. (And don’t forget that charming casino because you know nothing says U.S. history like a slots parlor next to where George Washington literally slept.)

In addition to these larger malls and newer strip malls are all the other strip malls and often funky shopping centers on Route 30, Paoli Pike, Route 3, pick a road.

Really Chester County, how much development do you want? How much development do we need as residents?  Are we actually getting new stores or are businesses just hop-scotching between retail developments, moving every few years to whatever the next sweetest deal is? And do you want a steady stream of fill-in-the-name-big-box-retailers and chains?  What of the independent local business where they know their customer base and might be your neighbors?

I saw the development of Chester County in a most unusual way on my 9/11 hot-air balloon ride.  I saw the development from the air.  From high up in the sky it looked like miles and miles of Legos – developments all cookie cutter.

Chester County on a county level needs to get a real grip on the future.  The economy is not recovering, and still these developments proceed.  Developers will say they bring jobs, but once you get beyond retail shift work and minimum wage, what is there?  And you need more than that to fill up the condos, town homes perched on formerly rural highways, and the communities of McMansions. (Don’t forget about the fact they are trying to supersize Birchrunville in West Vincent. And then there is other potential residential development in the future, right?)

Once the open space is gone, it is not coming back. Once the charming cross-roads towns are gone and the farms are gone, they are also not coming back.  That’s all. Just think about it.

My wish for Chester County is a revolution of common sense.

beautiful.

Beautiful.   No other word can describe the Great Blue Heron who lives at the Willows in Radnor Township.  I call it Big Blue.

The photo above was taken a few days ago by my pal Greg Prichard.  The photo below was taken by me in the same vicinity two years ago at the same time of year.

If there is any doubt why we need to preserve our environment and open space, just look at this magnificant bird.  You don’t see creatures like this in office parks, strip malls, and New Urbanism Fairy Tales of Transit Oriented Development.

Just saying.

west vincent on the peoples’ radar again: rising up about birchrunville

I haven’t had much to say lately about West Vincent.  First of all, nothing is changing, just more of the same old same old….including everyone but the cows at Ken Miller’s farm are being told they are the fine feathered friend Chickenman.  That gets old, who cares,  and besides they gave up burning witches at the stake centuries ago, right?

What doesn’t get old in West Vincent, apparently, are mysterious acts of retribution. Yeah, everyone knows it goes on and they are not paranoid delusions of residents. Stuff like that happens every day, and not just in West Vincent.

But West Vincent hasn’t been Mayberry Sleepy…. and there still seems to be stuff going on “on the down low”.

Chickenman’s e-mail the other day made me wonder if it was time for an update.  He wanted people to read an article in The Daily Local about proposed development of the old township building property, which is apparently a historic school house.

Here we go again.

By SARA MOSQUEDA-FERNANDEZ smfernandez@dailylocal.com

WEST VINCENT — Residents are concerned about office buildings proposed in Birchrunville, and they want township supervisors to reject the plans as inappropriate for their historic village center.

The applicant for the Birch Run Village plan seeks to construct three two-story office buildings, each of about 2,500 square feet, on a total of 2.5 acres.

 The property is at the corner of Flowering Springs Road and School House Lane. The school house on the adjoining parcel was built in 1833 and was formerly used as the township’s administrative building.

 According to Supervisor Clare Quinn, the zoning for the area is mixed use, which allows small commercial development.

Suzanne M. Roth, who sits on the township’s Environmental Advisory Committee, hopes more residents realize what the proposal means.

“We just really want to make sure that people understand the amount of development that’s being proposed for this property, the impact that it’s going to have on all of our lives,” said Roth. “This keeps changing, but at the moment it looks like there will be (three) two-story buildings.”

According to Township Manager Jim Wendlegass, Birch Run Village Leasing LLC originally submitted a land-development application in late 2004. That was denied, he said, and a new plan was submitted last year.

The township’s Planning Commission advised supervisors to reject waivers sought by the developers for the project….“This is an historic village with roads to match,” said Roth. “If the property is developed as planned for each parking space allotted, there will be eight car trips anticipated to travel our roads.”

That would mean about 256 to 270 more cars passing her house  daily or turning around somewhere in the village to enter the office complex, Roth said.

“Township police cannot enforce the 15 mph speed limit on the lower portion of School House Lane now,” she said.

 Ethan Schofield, whose property also neighbors the site, hopes that more residents will become aware about the issues at hand…Kenny Carroll, a resident of the township since 1973, said he was specifically concerned with impacts on the environment. “The Birchrun Creek, an exceptional value creek, will be seriously impacted by this development,” said Carroll…According to Carroll, another issue is the development’s impact on the schoolhouse building. “This building is an historical building,” said Carroll.

….Roth and other residents have put together a website, http://www.birchrunvillepeople.com/, with more information about their concerns on the project, hoping to inform the township and community members about these and other issues.

Clare Quinn?  How can anyone believe a thing that comes out of her mouth?  Isn’t she Chester County’s reigning queen of eminent domain is a good thing?  And well, don’t all the residents pay her health insurance via tax dollars, making her right up there with sucking off the proverbial public teat, yes?

In general, where is the need for this development?  Did residents request it?  Are there businesses lined up with signed leases waiting to move in?  How does this work? This isn’t just a suburb, it’s the country, and one of the largest problems with Chester County as beautiful as it is, are these odd business developments that never look exactly full.  Who decided there was an actual need, or is this a build it and they will come scenario? I don’t understand.

Malvern is already learning how their development that will be super-sized and traffic clogging will impact the borough economically.  Suffice it to say, it will not be the cash cow officials thought it would be.  And lordy it has taken David Della Porta long enough to get one of his New Urbanism Fantasy Plans through.  He’s a nice man, I have met him, but I have heard him chirp this all before – it’s just with the Borough of Malvern he finally found his perfect rubes.  He said at a ground breaking after the fact:

“What I mean by that is, the first urban-esque, mixed-use, transit-oriented development,” he said. “There’s really nothing in Philadelphia suburbs like this, where you have retail-residential involved in a great existing place that already has a beautiful little town, the services and the train station within walking distance.”

Urban-esque?  Hello, why do people move to the suburbs?  Why do people move to the country?  Is it so they can eventually feel the urban of it all they moved away from?  Call me crazy, but I don’t think so.

So West Vincent residents, lovers of Birchrunville, what say you?  Is this what you want?  It seems to me that a lot of different voices are saying “no”, aren’t there?

The problem is, this dopey plan will go through unless fought tooth and nail.  And I hope people get political.  Let your Congressman up for re-election know how you feel too.  Hasn’t he received a tidy sum of donations from power brokers and decision makers in West Vincent?  Donations are nice, but votes get an elected official where they need to go, so always let them know how you feel about local issues even if they are not directly involved.  Especially during a big election year.

Now, let’s also use this as a reminder as to why West Vincent needs term limits and new supervisors.

And here is the new website Birchrunville People: Preserving the Village of Birchrunville:

Check out the TRAFFIC TAB:

4-Way Stop Sign is Being Planned for the Intersection of Flowing Springs Rd. and School House Lane!

See the photo below of the new notice marking at the intersection, and scroll down to see the Caruolo Associates’ Traffic Report which “strongly disagrees” with the creation of the 4-way stop at this intersection! This will be an extremely hazardous intersection for vehicles driving up and down Flowing Springs, especially in the the winter! 

Why should the People of Birchrunville be put in danger for the sake of one corporation’s financial interest?

Check out the History Tab and The Actions Tab:

What Can You Do?

    1. Attend the West Vincent Township meetings (see Calendar).  Share your thoughts with the township Board of Supervisors and the Planning Committee.  Keep your comments and questions civil and respectful– these township officials are our neighbors and friends and they are committed to serving the township and upholding its laws.
    2. Stay informed.  We will try to keep this website up-to-date with the latest developments.
    3. Write letters.  Put your concerns and questions in writing and send them to:
      West Vincent Township Board of Supervisors: 729 St. Matthews Road Chester Springs, PA 19425           Pennsylvania State Senator: Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman One North Church Street West Chester, PA 19380
      Chester County Historical Preservation Network: http://www.cchpn.org/contact.htm
      PennDOT (PA Dept. of Transportation): Francis J Hanney Traffic control services manager fhanney@state.pa.gov
      Fire Safety:

Birchrunville’s first responder: Kimberton Fire Company P.O. Box 99 Kimberton, Pennsylvania 19442 Phone: 610 935-1388 Fax: 610-935-3956

Others Serving West Vincent: Ridge Fire Company #1 480 Ridge Road Spring City, PA 19475-9678 Phone: (610) 495-6063 Fax: (610) 495-5106 RidgeFH@RidgeFireCompany.com
Ludwig’s Corner Fire Company 1325 North Pottstown Pike Glenmoore PA 19343 Station #73 Phone: (610) 458-8479 Fax: (610) 458-2562
Check this page regularly for more opportunities to get involved and make a difference!

There is also a forum with comments worth reading

Good for these residents for stepping up and having a say!   But it is West Vincent, so who knows how it will end up. All I know is little country roads are just that: little.  And you only get so many chances to keep water sources clean and once an environment is gone, etc., it’s gone.

It’s a damn shame that the politicians in West Vincent and the taxpayer-funded staff do not really get the value of the charm of this area that will disappear once they turn it into Little Eagle.  I can’t wait for the CVS with fake Victorian gables.

Sigh.  More dumbness.

 

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