over-development coming to radnor on dodo hamilton’s property?

218 Strafford Ave

A Radnor Township friend called this morning about this:

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton
By Linda Stein lstein@21st-centurymedia.com @lsteinreporter on Twitter Jan 13, 2020 Updated Jan 13, 2020

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton

RADNOR — Although no plans have been filed with the township, word is getting around that a developer has set his sights on the Wayne property of the late Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, who was one of the Main Line’s iconic grande dames….Hamilton, a billionaire who grew up in New York and Newport, R.I., where she also kept a home, was a generous philanthropist who gave millions to various institutions in the Philadelphia area….Radnor Township Board of Commissioners President Jack Larkin, who represents Ward 1, has written about the pending development at Eagle and Strafford roads in his newsletters to residents. When asked to comment, Larkin referred a reporter to those missives.

“The developer has shown me two concept sketches for the lots; the first is purportedly a by-right plan, and includes approximately 40 homes,” Larkin wrote in his newsletter. “This is, to me, an unattractive plan: Because the units are, by right, single family dwellings, cramming 40 homes onto the two lots means filling them with houses without space for buffers, open space, or stormwater recharge areas.”

Larkin continued, “The second plan would require a conditional use approval by the township, and would put approximately 50 homes into the two lots —41 town homes on the western lot, and nine single-family dwellings onto the eastern lot. Because the homes on the western lot are town homes, they leave a lot of space for the things that are absent in the by-right plan: Stormwater management, sidewalks, buffers, and open space. The density is problematic for me, but with that in mind, it is a good plan.”…Meanwhile, about 40 nearby neighbors sent this statement to Larkin: “We understand and appreciate the developer’s rights to develop the property, and our goal as a neighborhood is not to squash any development, but to mitigate any negative changes to the neighborhood and keep its current character. For those of us who have lived here many years, we have seen the negative effects of cutting down trees on the Hamilton’s property and the building of just four homes on the corner of Strafford and Eagle Road. Despite the assurances of the engineers, developers, and other experts, our neighborhood has been substantially damaged and our lives negatively affected by ‘tiny’ changes to the Hamilton’s property. There are approximately 40 neighbors on Strafford, Hedgerow, Grant, Forrest, Fairfield, and Old Eagle School who will attest to being harmed financially by the improper regulation of storm water runoff in the past.

“The character of the neighborhood will be drastically changed by the proposed development. Haverford Properties is seeking to double the number of homes within our small community. Our current neighborhood contains 35 acres and 64 homes, approximately two homes per acre. The developers plan to build 50 homes will result in 114 homes, for over three homes per acre….Meanwhile, the developer, Charles Houder, with Haverford Properties Inc., declined comment, saying that he wants to meet with the neighbors first.

Is dear Dodo turning in her grave yet? Do we think the esteemed and philanthropic Dodo would have wanted this for her beloved home?  I mean isn’t the family raking in the cash already? They made what, like $9 million off of the sale of the Newport, Rhode Island property in 2018 according to Town & Country Magazine:

“Judge Judy” Scheindlin and husband Jerry have made the move to Newport, Rhode Island, with the purchase of a $9 million mansion. The iconic home, known as the ‘Bird House” and previously owned by Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, sits atop one of the highest points in all of Newport

And then there were the auctions of antiques and stuff, right? There was one at Bunch in Chadds Ford I remember. And the millions from the auctions held by Freeman’s right? (One was written up in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Freeman’s also auctioned off some of her very spectacular jewelry, didn’t they? (Forbes even mentioned the jewelry, and Philadelphia Magazine had an article too at the time.)

In 2008 Philadelphia Magazine wrote an article on Mrs. Hamilton:

The Last Great Lady
Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton has enjoyed a life of wealth and glamour: a debutante coming-out splashed in the “New York Times”, summers in Newport, and years as the face (and hat!) of the Main Line. In the waning days of Philly high society, we need “Mrs. H.” more than ever.

by AMY KORMAN· 10/21/2008, 10:02 a.m.

Matt Hamilton already knew that his mother was one of your more independent billionaire heiresses…. (When you’re a billionairess, people call you “Mrs.”) With her elegant suits and trademark wide-brimmed hats, she might look the part of the classic old-school socialite, but Dorrance Hill Hamilton (“Dodo” was a nickname inherited from her mother) puts her own stamp on everything she does. This past summer, her clan joined her in Newport, Rhode Island, to celebrate her 80th birthday at a full-on ball at the Newport Country Club — just around the corner from her summer estate, a splendid 1901 mansion called Wildacre — that featured, among other things, face-painting and an ice sculpture in the shape of a dodo bird. Along with her blue satin dress and emeralds, the guest of honor wore a tiny red hat in the shape of a birthday cake….Dorrance Hamilton was born to the role of socialite, of course — she is, famously, the granddaughter of Dr. John T. Dorrance, who invented the condensing process for soup and became the president of the Campbell Soup company in 1914. But while she has led a rarefied life, she is much more invested in carefully distributing her wealth, making sure that the money she bestows so generously is working properly. Recent gifts include $25 million to Thomas Jefferson Hospital; $5 million to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; $5 million to the Kimmel Center; $1 million to the costume collection at the Art Museum’s Perelman Building; and quietly dispersed millions to education causes all over the city, including several parochial schools in West Philly. In essence, she is CEO of what might be called Dorrance Hamilton, Inc., juggling businesses, charities, real estate projects and foundations.

So given what the late Mrs. Hamilton was about, would she be about having a cram plan of her estate whose driveway is on Strafford Avenue in Wayne, adjacent to the Eagle Village Shops ? You know where The Little House Shop and Valley Forge Flowers and more are?

This is the furthermost edge of Radnor Township and will also IMHO drastically affect Tredyffrin Residents won’t it? Traffic is already a nightmare there regularly, and what of Radnor Township School District?  This morning I had parents with kids in Radnor schools express serious concerns off the record.  Apparently the schools like many other schools and school districts are bursting at the seams.  More development doesn’t alleviate this issue. Also back there is a mess when it really rains, so what about storm water management?

Here is what Delaware County has about the real estate parcels. The commercial parcel is Eagle Village and all those stores:

 

Whether it’s the by right plan or the one which would require zoning approvals, why is this what they want to do with the property? I get that the heirs probably have their own ideas about what should happen, but is this what Mrs. Hamilton would have wanted?

For example, Mrs. Hamilton was an avid gardener. I have a Clivia plant that I bought decades ago at St. David’s Fair. It had been grown in Mrs. Hamilton’s greenhouses.  I almost lost this plant a few years ago when I accidentally left it out in too much sun.

And do people know here how she restored the famous Frederick Law Olmstead Jr’s Blue Garden in Newport, RI??  She was a fixture literally at the Philadelphia Flower Show for decades.

Does anyone here much know that she founded the Swiss Village Foundation also up in Newport, Rhode Island. SVF is a nonprofit that along with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine  is dedicated to preserving heritage breeds of livestock. One of the animals they study and protect are the Dutch Belted Cattle which many in Chester County recognize as the “Oreo” cows. Mrs. Hamilton was mourned throughout New England when she died  for all she did.

She gave millions away to charity and seriously, are her heirs suddenly destitute or something? I mean I could get not wanting to be responsible for all of the land but why overly dense development?  Why not have at least part of the property become something like an arboretum like Jenkins, or even go under the umbrella of PHS (you know like  Meadowbrook Farm?)

I find this all to be incredibly sad. And it’s truly so disappointing that her family is considering this. I mean do they need the money that badly? I wish they would consider something else.  But in the end, will they care enough? Who knows. This sad saga is just beginning.  And I predict the surrounding residents will not just go quietly into the night over this. Nor should they.

218 Straf

are traffic accidents a symptom of over-development?

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August 14, 2019 PM accident at Route 30 and 352/Sproul Rd in East Whiteland.

WARNING: RANT AHEAD. TURN AWAY NOW IF YOU AREN’T INTERESTED.

There was ANOTHER accident at Route 352/ Sproul Road and Route 30/Lancaster Avenue in East Whiteland Township again earlier this evening. Right after I came through the intersection basically.

There was an accident at a similar time LAST evening. Same location.

Are traffic accidents a symptom of over-development due to stressed overcrowded roadways?

This intersection in East Whiteland is much like a couple of problematic intersections in West Whiteland.  Take for example the West Whiteland intersection at Whitford Road from the train station side and Route 30/ Lancaster Ave/Lincoln Highway. Maybe there should be NO right turn on red and whatever else can happen to ensure better safety on the roads? I go through that particular West Whiteland intersection at least twice a week and people run that light there and just dive into the intersection.  This afternoon at a little past noon as a matter of fact, a BIG truck was what dove onto Route 30 West towards Downingtown from Whitford Road.  The light had changed. It was red for Whitford on all sides, but it didn’t matter people were diving left and right. 

But I digress, back to East Whiteland.

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From the people in Linden Hall  (which sits at 30 and 352) I have learned there are at least 25 kids in that development. Ages are infant though high school. Plus all of the adult residents.  Are there lives to spare, East Whiteland? I don’t think so.  (And don’t get me started on the sloppy ugly construction site left by Linden Hall as in the historic structure. Has anyone from East Whiteland bother to swing by to see the “parking lot”? Would you be happy as residents to see that site?)

Now BACK to the traffic at the intersection of Route 30/Lancaster Ave and Route 352/Sproul Road in East Whiteland. Can we talk about the people turning LEFT from Lancaster (westbound direction) onto Route 352/Sproul Road sit in CENTER of intersection even through signal changes effectively blocking ability of Linden Hall residents to safely exit their development— this development which East Whiteland approved and allowed to be built. And someone keeps denying them a left turn signal  they have requested of the township (or PennDOT?) so they can exit  more safely.  They are crammed in like lemmings in that development so why aren’t there enough people to justify it?

Can’t have it both ways. If East Whiteland Township (as well as neighboring townships) are going to cram every square inch with development they have a responsibility to ensure the safety of residents. For goodness sake, make these developers pay for sufficient road improvements and for installing township parks and stuff. It’s called conditions of plan approval, right????

But hey, we all know how traffic concerns in East Whiteland from Carol Lane and Summit residents got translated by certain East Whiteland supervisors the last time, remember?  All of a sudden, their traffic issues became the impetus for a traffic circle at Route 352/Sproul Road/North Chester Road and King, correct?

So…once again Carol Lane and Summit Road neighbors are attempting to have a meaningful conversation with East Whiteland to get what they feel are much needed traffic corrections to Summit, Carol, and those streets in THAT neighborhood.

WHAT THE RESIDENTS ARE TRYING TO MAKE EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP UNDERSTAND IS THAT THEY WANT IS TRAFFIC CALMING ON SUMMIT AND CAROL, PART OF SUMMIT FROM CAROL TO MADELINE AND SUMMIT BETWEEN CAROL AND WOODCREST.

I have born witness to the speeding on Carol and Summit myself as recently I drove through there to just see if I could get the idea of what goes on. What goes on is people cut through and speed. I had someone on my tail and for a couple of moments I actually thought they might pass me for doing speed limit. My friends over there tell me they have had cut through speeders pass them for going the speed limit.

This neighborhood has at least 20 children on Summit from Carol to 352, 10 on Carol, 8 or 9 on another connecting street and dog walkers, walkers, and joggers. Are there lives to spare here at this location, East Whiteland?

People living in East Whiteland and neighboring townships are really struggling to co-exist with the insane amount of development. Residents should matter more than the ratables and ill-advised development saturated comprehensive plans on a local or county level. But do residents matter?

After all residents in East Whiteland have expressed concern about the number of living units for what they call “Frazer Lanes Redevelopment“. Everyone agrees the site could stand to be improved BUT what will life be like when 227 units in 4 stories on 5 acres is built with 330 total parking spaces across from the Wawa at the corner of 30 and Planebrook?

What will life be like as you go west on 30 and hit the intersection of Ship Road if that development gets built?

Inquirer: Another Wawa may be coming to Chester County after town officials change zoning rules
by Katie Park, Updated: May 23, 2019

A Wawa may soon be built next to a centuries-old chapel and tavern in Chester County after officials approved a zoning change that cleared the way for the convenience-store giant.

The West Whiteland Township Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 on Wednesday to allow Wawa to move into a yet-to-be-built 5,600-square-foot building — complete with eight gas pumps — at 690 E. Lincoln Highway, once home to an Entenmann’s pastry factory and outlet store….As a result of the supervisors’ decision, developer Eli Kahn, the owner of eight acres at 690 E. Lincoln Highway, said he would likely not go forward with his original plans to build 130 apartments and a three-story office building there in favor of about 80 townhouses, the building he plans to lease to Wawa, and two other retail buildings that he could also rent out.

NVR Homes, which teamed up with Kahn, has also indicated it would not build more than 400 apartments and townhouses on 52 acres at 500 E. Lincoln Highway — the former home of the Laborers’ Training Facility — and instead opt for about 90 single-family homes and 65 townhouses, West Whiteland officials said.

Is it just me or is the Ship Road Couplet and development insanity…well, crazy?

Here is where you click to see most of what West Whiteland has going on development-wise: Spring 2019 Present & Proposed Developments Map

Here is where you click to see most of what East Whiteland has going on development-wise: Subdivision and Land Development Plans.

And we can’t leave East Goshen out of the equation given the Paoli Pike debacle can we? You see, the East Goshen Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss the proposal from The Hankin Group on further development of 1351 Paoli Pike on Tuesday, August 29, 2019 at 7:00 pm.

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And don’t get me started on West Goshen and that hideous development at Greystone (I tell you what I sure wouldn’t be a bride paying for a pricey wedding at the Greystone Hall venue now.)

And there is what? Another elementary school being built over there? (But hey now development doesn’t add to the burdens of a school district, right? )

Back to East Whiteland (and anyone else in Great Valley School District).  I still think in my humble opinion it is not a question of IF but WHEN the Great Valley School District will be dealing with a Great Valley East and Great Valley West situation.  Whose land will they take to deal will the growing population and a need for larger if not additional schools?

Back to what inspired this post: stressed out infrastructure. In this case roads and intersections ill-equipped to effectively handle traffic. And it’s only getting worse.  In East Whiteland every which way you turn there is yet another development.  Much like West Whiteland. But the roads? The roads are essentially the same and how can they be?

Can I say planning in these townships and at the county level just sucks? It does. It just sucks.  Chester County Planning Commission has a NON-resident as it’s Executive Director and it shows. That guy is not invested in our communities. He is a non-resident carpetbagger the taxpayers are paying for.  Landscapes is a joke as well. The “vision” message is clear: development, development, development. Seriously. LOOK at the interactive development map.

Zoning in townships like East Whiteland and West Whiteland should benefit the residents. But can it be said zoning benefits special interests and developers mostly?

Oh I know, I know.  This is indeed a full-on rant but something has got to give.  And I say a side effect of development are accidents since I feel traffic accidents a symptom of over-development due to stressed and overcrowded roadways.

We as residents deserve better. We also need better representation in local government.  As residents, we need to take our power back collectively. After all did any of us move to Chester County so we could live in King of Prussia-lite or Bensalem-lite?

NOPE.

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August 13, 2019 PM accident at Route 30 and 352/Sproul Rd in East Whiteland.

what a difference a year or two makes in west whiteland

Ashbridge house in Exton. 2017.

I took the above photo of Ashbridge House located in West Whiteland at Exton Main Street in Exton in 2017.

It’s been mothballed for years in plastic since the mall was built. It’s another Chester County property with quite the history.

They even have a sign up in Exton Main Street about it:

Supposedly this house is being restored. I don’t know exactly which decade that’s going to occur in however, do you? I found this 2017 West Whiteland Planning Commission document (CLICK HERE) which indicates it would be preserved in the middle of hundreds of new apartments. (Also check out the Daily Local Article from May, 2017 and a blurb on the WCHE website from the same time.)

Hundreds. Because you know there aren’t enough apartments and townhouses and carriage houses being built in West Whiteland Township now are there?

That’s crazy. Obviously it was approved. Click HERE to see a list of developments in various stages in West Whiteland. Suffice it to say, I thought the list of developments in East Whiteland were bad enough. And I can’t say for sure that these lists are current as to what development is planned where.

But I digress.

Here we are in March, 2019 right? So a couple of weeks ago I guess it is now, I was over at Exton Main Street with my husband. I can tell you I was stunned by the way Ashbridge House and the outbuildings looked.

Ashbridge House in Exton. 2019.

When exactly is the preservation going to finally begin? Is it just me or do others of you out there think it’s never going to happen and someday will just hear how the house mysteriously fell down?

Ashbridge House in Exton. 2019.

I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why people no longer seem to care about historic preservation in a county that used to be known for it.

If you are interested in Ashbridge house, I have found a couple videos:

Janice Early’s terrific history video

Abandoned Steve Adventures 2013 video

Ashbridge House in Exton. 2017 or 2018.

too much development has negative consequences


This photo came to me from a friend with the following note:

People who are interested in all the new construction  in the Chester Springs area should be made to attempt a morning commute during the week versus cruising through on a Saturday or Sunday. 

I felt like I was in Manhattan this morning – cars well past Montgomery School on Route 113 trying to get through the intersection with Route 401, a couple miles worth of hideous, now everyday traffic.  

God bless those who have to get to work OUTSIDE of Chester Springs. And to think of the nearly 250 homes not yet occupied as part of Byers Station Phase 2 and roughly same number of Pulte homes going up near Ludwigs Corner???? 

This is insanity!!!

Perhaps worth a post. Biggest problem when the the massive amount of developing going on is the market for them- the buyers. They have no idea the poor quality of these homes along with what it is really like to get around these 2 lane roads. Uh!!!

And indeed, so worth a post!

Why this is so good to see come to life isn’t so people can be miserable in traffic, it’s instead so people can know what their future holds every time they see one of these plans proposed wherever it is they live.

When these plans are proposed in your municipalities, they are cute little Lego land box drawings on a big flat piece of paper. The drawings are shown with these buildings with nothing around them, so you can’t visualize the reality of these developments for the most part. You get stuck waiting for the developments to be built and then there’s nothing you can do.

And my favorite is the trick that even a curse out here where they talk about how people aren’t going to be using their cars, they will use special Jetson spaceships and public transportation. Everything is going to be “walkable”. Of course how they can say that with a straight face and parts of Chester County were you still have to drive miles to get to a grocery store cracks me up.

A lot of the  “highways”  out here are glorified country roads. They weren’t meant for this volume of humanity. Then you look at roads like 202 which are a nightmare even with improvements.

So anyway, just more food for thought. Especially if you were thinking about areas like over around Crebilly, and that’s not just because of the Toll Brothers proposed building on that land. It’s quite simply put: just adding all the plans up. 

What do you get if you add up all the developments large and small from one end of Chester county to the other? To me that prospect is frightening and very very sad. 

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.

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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.

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