Planning Commission

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Jan 04

Looking Back at Development in Montgomery County During 2016

Posted on January 4, 2017 at 7:40 AM by Michael Stokes

Development in Montgomery County during 2016 was very robust, probably one of the strongest years in over a decade as evidenced by new construction and planned proposals submitted to our office for review. 

Certainly the biggest development trend continues to be new rental apartments.   Big apartment projects recently completed in Plymouth Meeting, the Conshohocken area, and  along the Route 422 corridor seem to be leasing up well.  Several new apartment projects are under construction in Upper Merion Township (several large ones), Lower Merion Township (several as well), and Norristown.  More should be under construction soon in Lansdale, Willow Grove, Philmont, Lower Merion Township, and yes even more in Upper Merion Township.  Clearly Upper Merion and Lower Merion Townships are the epicenters of new apartment development.   In Lower Merion Township a large riverfront apartment development on the former Continental Container Corporation plant site will eventually contain approximately 600 new apartment units which have access to Manayunk.  Several other Lower Merion Township apartment projects are proposed in the Bala Cynwyd area and in Ardmore.  Over the past year, several large cranes have been lording over more than 1,000 apartment units under construction at the Village of Valley Forge- the former Valley Forge Golf Course, located along US Routes 202 and 422.  Other apartment units in Upper Merion Township are being developed in business parks near Valley Forge Park and in Hughes Park along the SEPTA Route 100 transit line.   

Other forms of housing are also springing from the ground throughout the county with hot spots in the western end of the county within New Hanover Township (several previously approved developments are finally being built out), Limerick Township, and Upper Providence Township.   More new development is expected in western Montgomery County including large housing projects proposed in Lower Pottsgrove and New Hanover Townships.

Age qualified housing and senior care facilities are once again a big part of the local construction taking place in the county.  The most significant project is Shannondell in Lower Providence Township where several large buildings have been constructed over the past year.

This summer we saw the completion of a dramatic new link that connects the two King of Prussia malls offering a new dimension in high end retail.   A new Centre Square Commons shopping center is under construction in in Whitpain Township, and a major shopping center redo, with a new Whole Foods store, is occurring in Spring House.  Several other retail construction projects are taking place in the county to reshape other shopping centers and malls.  The large Life Time Athletic facility under construction in the Fort Washington Business Park will add a new dimension to fitness options in the county. 

The convenience store business is still hot in the county.  Royal Farms is entering the county with two new stores under construction now in Hatfield and Norristown- more will likely follow in Kulpsville and other locations.   Wawa opened another large convenience store in Cheltenham Township in 2016.  In 2017 Wawa will open its 30th Montgomery County large convenience store near Norristown and has others planned in the county.

Hotels and extended stay residential inns remain a popular development option in the county.  New hotels are proposed or under construction in the King of Prussia area, US Route 422 corridor, Plymouth Meeting/Blue Bell, and the Willow Grove area. 

Office development seems to gaining some momentum after a long quiet period.  The biggest office that we have seen for some time was proposed along the river in Conshohocken this past year. 

Industrial development is also picking up.  The new large Fedex distribution center was completed this year in Upper Merion Township.  Other industrial proposals have recently been approved in Limerick, Hatfield, and Franconia Townships.

Though institutional development may have declined a bit in the county from some of the big years over the past decade- no new hospitals or high schools- we still have seen strong activity highlighted by the new Atrium being constructed at the Bryn Mawr Hospital , elderly care facilities at Shannondell in Lower Providence Township and student housing in Abington Township.

This is just a rather scattershot overview of development in the county.  For those of you who dine on data, your feast will be served in early 2017 when we will issue reports of proposed development and projects recently completed.  The numbers will show that 2016 was a big year for development in the county.

New townhouses recently constructed in Lansdale

More senior housing being constructed at Shannondell 

An innovative housing project underway at the former Trappe High School

Lots of new apartments under construction at the Village at Valley Forge

The King of Prussia malls are now officially connected

Life Time Athletic will take work outs to another level

A new parking garage at the Lansdale Train Station


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