Quick Submission Beats Zoning Change Along Philadelphia’s Main Line

1237 Lancaster Avenue, along Philadelphia’s Main Line, a tiny .34-acre site that presented a redevelopment opportunity. Previously an older residence, it’s situated along a stretch of Route 30 (Lancaster Avenue) where many properties have been converted to commercial use. When our land planners got involved, an upcoming Township Zoning Ordinance amendment required an extremely quick filing to beat the change. We promptly developed and submitted a by-right sketch to Tredyffrin Township, just in time. In fact, it was the last mixed-use application within this district.

From a single dwelling to a mixed-use building

After that hurdle, Nave Newell worked with our client to secure land development approvals to demolish this existing 2-story brick dwelling and construct a new, 3-story mixed-use facility. The new building includes commercial use on the first floor and four (4) multi-family residential units on the second and third floors, along with a green roof. The site design included a new parking lot, two underground stormwater infiltration systems, landscaping, and lighting.

Challenges and solutions

1237 Lancaster Avenue site rendering
  • Steep topography – There was a fair amount of topography change from the backside of the property to the street. The site required careful grading consideration for both parking and pedestrian/ADA accessibility.
  • Zero Discharge Stormwater Management – The site is positioned between Lancaster Avenue and active train tracks. Without direct access to the Lancaster Avenue stormwater facilities, we had to approach this as a zero discharge stormwater site. The Township had substantial infiltration requirements and the site is encumbered by a shallow rock ledge, requiring us to split our infiltration facilities into two separate systems.
  • Green roof – Since the project required a stormwater waiver, and as part of the collaborative dialog with the township, a green roof was incorporated into the overall stormwater strategy. This allowed us to maximize both the land development potential and stormwater opportunities on this site. Nave Newell provided initial conceptual green roof planting strategies, which were implemented by the contractor during installation.
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown – To complicate matters even more, COVID-19 interfered with construction of this project. Entitlements were in place, just as the COVID-19 lockdown went into effect. Therefore, the developer had to endure labor and material shortages and inflationary pressures.

Completed in 2022, this project is a success story of perseverance and hard work put forth by the developer and project team. As a result, this small mixed-use development has created office space and apartments along the Main Line, within walking distance of the Daylesford station on the SEPTA Paoli/Thorndale Line.

Drone view of 1237 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn, PA

Leave a Comment