Kevin Riordan of The Philadelphia Inquirer has this brand new article out. About development in Swarthmore. Swarthmore one of the last places with beautiful trees and not overtaken by ugly development…until now. And the players include the guy who went from zoning and planning dude in West Goshen Township to Swarthmore Borough Manager (William Webb) and the former Borough Mayor of Swarthmore and developer/builder, Bill Cumby.
I will start with not a big fan of West Goshen and West Goshen employee refugees because West Goshen just always has issues. And then there is this once a politician always a politician former mayor of Swarthmore and how can he really want to build something so out of character and out of scale in a small main street oriented community that is also home to lovely homes with terrific gardens and street trees, Swarthmore College, and Scott Arboretum? Political/personal gain? I mean you don’t want to think that, but this plan? It’s like all the bad plans for Ardmore, PA mated with Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough and The Elm in Narberth, and had an alien love child.
This proposed plan? One word: HIDEOUS.
No Swarthmore is not in Chester County. It’s in Delaware County. And Swarthmore and Media are two of my favorite Main Street small town feel towns. So yes, I am expressing my dismay. Honest, heart-felt dismay.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Swarthmore locals are divided over how well luxury condos would fit the borough’s distinctive character
Swarthmore, Delaware County’s classic college town, is wrestling with a five-story condo proposal some say will help and others fear will hurt the borough’s heart.
By Kevin Riordan
Updated on Mar 7, 2023
A local developer’s proposed condominium complex in Swarthmore would offer ready access to a SEPTA Regional Rail station as well as to shops, restaurants, and cultural amenities in the heart of the Delaware County borough.
Called 110 Park, the $30 million, five-story building would increase the town center’s population and provide Swarthmore empty-nesters an opportunity to downsize in their community. The proposal also includes 1,250 square feet of retail space and preservation of the facade and front section of the Celia Building, a Park Avenue landmark….a significant number of Swarthmore residents, including architects, preservationists, and businesspeople, say 110 Park would dwarf its low-rise surroundings, cast a literal and figurative shadow over the town center, and erode the borough’s distinctive character.
They also oppose the pending demolition of two vintage buildings and see the proposed 40-space parking garage at the complex as a potential threat to pedestrian and vehicular traffic safety….Ever since the developer, 110 Park LLC, submitted the first iteration of the proposal for review in 2021, public concerns have focused on the impact of replacing a small-town expanse of Park Avenue streetscape that includes green space with a residential building more appropriate for a city block…..The council is expected to vote on the measure on March 13.
Melanie Rodbart, one of the founders of a nonprofit called Save Our Swarthmore….is not opposed to town center development, including on Park Avenue.
“There’s a way to develop that site without razing everything on it,” said Rodbart, a structural engineer and owner of a company that specializes in historic preservation….
Incorporated in 1893 and best known as the home of Swarthmore College, the borough is an inner-ring commuter suburb of Philadelphia. It has about 6,500 residents in its 1.4 square miles and features comfortable homes on tree-lined streets named after universities.
The Cumby family has been a part of Swarthmore for generations, and Bill Cumby, a former borough mayor who owns W.S. Cumby, a Delaware County construction firm, is a partner in developing 110 Park….Prices would range from $600,000 for some one-bedrooms to $1 million and above for three-bedroom units….The controversy has alerted Swarthmore residents to what some describe as shortcomings in the borough’s development regulations. Although none of the buildings to be demolished or altered as part of the 110 Park project are on registries of historic places, the 100 block of Park Avenue is eligible to be declared a historic district but has not been proposed as such.~ Philadelphia inquirer/kevin riordan 3/7/23
So I am curious as to how the zoning and assistant planning guy from West Goshen went to Borough Manager of Swarthmore? No other manager experience? I mean this guy also was in West Goshen when they approved that catastrophic ugliness of new construction which is on the site of the old Agway in West Chester, right? And up he pops with this particular piece of puffery just last week on his LinkedIn:
So Bill, Will, Willy, whatever you go by Webb are you actually LISTENING to your Swarthmore residents, the people whose taxes pay your salary? Because if you were listening you would know what the temperature is on this project.
Now Swarthmore has a big old page on their website devoted to this hideous project: CLICK HERE.
Some company called Bernardon has design plan things on their website: CLICK HERE.
Developer and former mayor guy has a website for his proposed project: CLICK HERE. He is heavy on the hype to get monster Lego land approved in my humble opinion.
Residents have banded together. Their group is SOS or Save Our Swarthmore. They seemed to have one of my favorite land use lawyers and former Lower Merion Commissioners assisting them. Phillip Rosenzweig, Esq. (Now for those of you reading, yes indeed this is indeed one of the land use lawyers I talk about as being AMAZING. He is also the guy that wrote that piece of fabulousness that ended eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore, PA when he first became a commissioner. And no, he is not a commissioner now, which is a shame for Lower Merion.) Here’s something off the SOS site he penned regarding this hot mess of a proposal for Swarthmore:
Here is an excellent article from Swarthmore College’s The Phoenix:
“This will change us”: Swarthmore Considers Upscale Condo Proposal in Downtown
by Owen Mortner
December 13, 2021 27 mins read
Plans for Condos in Swarthmore Stirs Debate Over Downtown’s Future By David Bjorkgren
Published: 5:12 am EST December 16, 2021
And articles from Swarthmore’s own local paper The Swarthmorian:
Condo Developers Go Back to the Drawing Board
Condo Plan Faces More Scrutiny
Swarthmorians fight for your town. Human scale matters. Fitting the existing landscape matters. You have an old school main street oriented town. It should be a historic district. Learn from the mistakes of other towns. Preserve what you have. I find it completely appalling that someone who once was an elected official and lives in Swarthmore thinks this is right for the character of your town. I am allowed to have that opinion. I feel for you guys. I applaud your efforts.