After many years of hard work, we’re thrilled to see our project moving forward.
After three years of negotiations, the Radnor Board of Commissioners finally approved Villanova University’s campus expansion plan — one of the largest of its kind in the township’s history.
In a 4-2 vote taken on Monday, the commissioners gave the university the green light to turn its main 14-acre surface parking lot into six new residential halls, a performing arts center, a parking garage, a pedestrian bridge, and a university-operated retail-space on the south side of Lancaster Avenue.
These projects will cost Villanova $225 million and are expected to be completed by the fall of 2019. The school will fund it through operating cash and debt.
The university believes the four-year project will help propel Villanova into a more competitive position among its peer institutions by granting more students the opportunity to live on campus, reducing the number of students living in residential neighborhoods, decreasing traffic to and from campus, and improving the traffic flow along Lancaster Avenue.
“We are finding that more and more students and families are looking for residential options as they are making their college choices,” said Chris Kovolski, Villanova’s assistant vice president for government relations and external affairs.
“We aren’t able to offer as many options, so this was a fantastic way to address those needs that will enhance the university,” he said.
Villanova took its first shot in 2012 at the massive development but township officials and neighbors thought it was too expansive and rejected the original proposal.
It wasn’t until March 2014 that the school received approval for institutional zoning amendments, in what Kovolski called a difficult process. The amendments addressed restrictions to building height, set back, and building coverage that were prohibiting projects of its kind.
Since then, the university has downsized its plans and collaborated with the township to develop ways to address the community’s concerns.
“A project of this scale requires a lot of dialogue,” Kovolski said. “I think its hard to envision how the addition of buildings will lead to reduction of traffic, but instead of the buildings being destinations, these will be places where people are living. By its nature the plan is designed to reduce traffic.”
Kovolski said the university has agreed to set aside land in perpetuity as a buffer between the dorms and the nearest residential area, invest $175,0000 toward a traffic signal that will help time the traffic system on Route 30, and implement storm water management measures.
Before the university can tackle this project, it plans to add two levels to an existing parking garage on campus and create a new surface parking lot around three existing buildings along Lancaster Avenue.
It will then begin constructing the parking garage on the university’s east main lot, and the pedestrian bridge across Lancaster. Once that’s completed, Kovolski said the university will begin building the dormitories and other parts of the project.