Proposal for apartments at Willow Grove Park on April 27th agenda for Abington Planning Commission

The proposal to allow apartments to be constructed at Willow Grove Park in Willow Grove in Abington Township will be on the April 27th agenda for the Abington Township Planning Commission. The meeting will be held virtually at 7:30 p.m. and the agenda and details on how to participate can be found here. The packet of information about this proposal can be found here.

PREIT, the owner of the mall property, is proposing a text amendment to section §2103.H of the zoning close to allow a new residential use as a conditional use within the Willow Grove Park area of the BC-Business District. The new residential use, H-12, would allow for the creation of a master plan to allow for apartment and condominium buildings if they are within 2,500 linear feet of the Willow Grove SEPTA Station. Please note that during a March 23rd meeting of the Planning Commission H-12 was revised to be H-13, but all the documents link to still refer to this as H-12.

The intent of the text amendment is outlined in the proposed ordinance as follows:

The purpose and intent of this Section is to encourage development and redevelopment of land within 2,500 linear feet of SEPTA’s Regional Line Train Station, to create a pedestrian-friendly environment and encourage walking, bicyling and transit use, and provide an alternative to traditional development by emphasizing mixed use, pedestrian-oriented development; promote a mix of retail and office uses, while allowing community service and higher-density residential uses while walking distance to retail, commercial, office and personal services, promote increased public transit ridership as an alternative to total reliance on the automobile for a variety of trip purposes, provide a range of housing options, create a neighborhood identity that promotes pedestrian activity, human interactions, safety and livability, and encourage development of underused tracts and parcels.

In the petition submitted by PREIT to the township, it states that it is seeking to build a 365 unit apartment building on the mall property. In the minutes from the March 23rd meeting of the Planning Commission, a representative of PREIT states that the apartment building would be constructed in a portion of Bloomingdale’s parking lot.

While PREIT is currently proposing to build the one apartment community, under the master plan, there are questions as to what the future is for the other portions of the 78-acre mall property that fall within 2,500 linear feet of the train station. If the text amendment is approved, PREIT could seek conditional uses in the future from the Abington Township Board of Commissioners to allow for more apartments.

The Planning Commission is an advisory body to the Board of Commissioners. On April 27th, or at a future meeting, it could vote to recommend or not recommend the adoption of the text amendment ordinance. The Board of Commissioners will make the final determination as to whether it is adopted or not.

Let us know what you think in the comments.