Three Bohler Projects Contribute to City Ave Transformation

16 May, 2023

A rendering of Federal Realty Investment Trust’s redevelopment of the former Lord & Taylor store at the Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center.

City Avenue in Northwest Philadelphia is being transformed from an vehicular thoroughfare into a regional hub with a mix of residential, retail, office, hospitality, and public space developments.

Deemed the City Avenue District, the revitalized area will create a connected community and maximize the potential of the area. Planned developments include Keystone Development & Investment’s One Belmont project, Federal Realty Investment Trust’s redevelopment of the former Lord & Taylor store, and Hanover Co.’s apartment building at 111 Presidential Blvd.

These projects will include public gathering spaces, multiuse trails, and new housing options near commercial attractions. The district already has over 2,800 residential units and 30,000 employees, with the presence of Saint Joseph’s University adding to the appeal of living, working, learning, and playing in the area. The new developments prioritize walkability and sustainability, emphasizing the benefits of density and reduced reliance on cars. Investments are being made to enhance landscaping, lighting, and outdoor seating to attract more retail customers.

All located in Lower Merion Township, the projects were subjected to the jurisdiction’s specific stormwater management requirements, which are even more stringent than the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)’s guidelines. Bohler’s Philadelphia team identified creative solutions for each site, providing comprehensive site civil engineering design and permitting services.

One Belmont

One Belmont is a mixed-use development project that involves the transformation of an existing office building and parking lot. The development will retain the office building while two new buildings, a five-story and a six-story structure connected by a bridge, will be constructed on the site. The project will introduce 270 apartments across the two new buildings. Additionally, the development will feature public space and approximately 36,000 SF of retail space, including a grocery store. Construction is anticipated to commence by the end of 2023.

Bohler’s team implemented a strategic grading design to maintain the existing office building while maximizing buildable space across the remainder of the site.

Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center Redevelopment

Federal Realty Investment Trust is embarking on a transformative project at the Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center, where the former Lord & Taylor store will be replaced with a new six-story building. This development will house 220 residential units and include 15,000 SF of retail space. Federal Realty is investing $8 million to rebrand and reposition the property as “Bala Cynwyd on City Ave.” Construction for the new apartments is planned to commence in 2024; the project will also incorporate 1.5 acres of public space.

Bohler’s team faces the challenge of working with an existing, open shopping center while phasing construction activities to update the parking lot. Balancing the logistics of keeping the shopping center and businesses operational during the parking lot improvements is a key consideration for the project.

111 Presidential Boulevard

Hanover Co. has unveiled plans for an ambitious residential development at 111 Presidential Blvd. The project aims to construct over 400 apartments within a five-story building, which will also feature ground-floor commercial space. Construction is scheduled to commence in the upcoming year. The development holds the potential to contribute to the creation of new public gathering spaces, multiuse trails, and increased population density in proximity to commercial attractions.

Bohler’s team faced several challenges due to the existing conditions of the site. The previous structure, an office building, needed to be demolished to make way for the new development. The steep slopes behind the building, leading down to Interstate 76, posed additional complexities. To work within the footprint of the former office building, the design team had to carefully plan the layout of the apartments. The township’s retaining wall height requirements further limited the construction area. The presence of underground rock necessitated creative solutions for the design of underground basin layouts. The project is currently undergoing approval processes, and construction is expected to commence in a few months.

Becoming a Destination

The development surge presents an opportunity for City Avenue to become a destination. Various investors are showing confidence in the area, with significant investments already made. Efforts are underway to maximize the regional rail stations, potentially expand bike share programs, and create a cohesive identity for the City Avenue District through retail and landscape strategies. The potential and convenience factors make the area an attractive choice for residents, businesses, and investors. Read more here.


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