By Paul Schwedelson – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal
May 11, 2023
With more than 1,700 residential units and an influx of commercial development planned along City Avenue, developers and business leaders are aiming for the Northwest Philadelphia corridor to transform from an auto-centric thoroughfare into a regional hub.
Marked by major development projects mixing residential, retail, office, hospitality and public space, City Avenue is primed for a facelift.
“This is a connected district. It’s going to be City Ave. District. It’s not City Ave. that’s just a road,” City Avenue District CEO Bryan Fenstermaker said. “People believe it’s just a road. We’re going to try and change that. That’s a big opportunity.”
During a City Avenue District panel event Wednesday, discussion centered around planned developments including:
- Keystone Development & Investment’s One Belmont project with a five-story and six-story building connected by a bridge, 270 apartments combined in the two, public space, and 36,000 square feet of retail, including a grocery store. Construction could start by the end of the year.
- Federal Realty Investment Trust is developing a six-story building with 220 residential units and 15,000 square feet of retail replacing the former Lord & Taylor store at Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center, which Federal is spending $8 million to rebrand and reposition the property as Bala Cynwyd on City Ave. Federal Realty is targeting a 2024 construction start for the new apartments, a project planned to feature 1.5 acres of public space. Federal Realty completed a $23 million apartment building on the backside of the Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center in 2020. Called the Delwyn, the project consists of a single, six-story building with 87 apartments.
- Hanover Co. has plans for more than 400 apartments at 111 Presidential Blvd. The five-story building would include ground-floor commercial space and construction is planned to start next year.
- Tishman Speyer received preliminary approval for a 2 million-square-feet master plan development at the Bala Plaza site. The 20-year plan calls for 757 multifamily residential units, a 168-key hotel, 700,000 square feet of office space and 200,000 square feet of retail space. It includes 12 acres of green space, 5.5 miles of new trails and a public amphitheater.
- Cross Properties has received approval to build a four-story building with 83 residential units and ground-floor commercial space at 202 Bala Ave. across the street from BMW of the Main Line.
Several of the projects create new public gathering space, multi-use trails and a cluster of population density close to commercial attractions.
There’s already more than 2,800 residential units within the district’s 2.7 miles on City Avenue, 30,000 employees who work in the area and tens of thousands more who live nearby in both Philadelphia and Lower Merion.