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Phoenixville Steel Site gets conditional use approval from Phoenixville Borough Council

From the Phoenix Steel Site blog:
Phoenixville Borough Council Borough Council gave unanimous approval to the proposed downtown development in project, which when complete, will bring new retail development to the downtown. The Council approved by a 7-0 vote, with Dana Dugan not in attendance, to approve the development which features 80,000 square feet of retail, 275 apartments and 30,000 square feet of office space.

The two hour meeting had the council members questioning how the development would mesh into the downtown. Concerns were voiced as how the development would impact the fire safety of the borough, the way finding program and the street music program. The development was also praised by developers as a progressive attempt on behalf of the borough to spur development at the abandoned Phoenix Steel site property.

Developer Manny DeMutis and attorney Michael B. Murray presented the plan and praised the boroughs efforts to make the project happen by offering a LERTA tax abatement project. "The LERTA was a big deal when it came to planning the project" he said, "In the days of very competitive financing arrangements the borough took a big step by saying you are open for business by offering the LERTA" he added.

The project calls for a new street to be constructed along the French Creek which will be bound by Ashland and Main Streets, the project will fill the 400 linear foot gap on the north side of Bridge Street between 101 Bridge and the Phoenix Cycle Shop. "This will complete the streetscape on the 100 block of Bridge Street. We are replicating the Iron Hill development which we completed in 2006 with historically sensitive infill development." DeMutis said.

The project will differ from others as the residential component will be rental and the commercial units will be for sale. "We will be offering the retail units for sale to ensure that many of the retailers will be able to purchase the retail space and remain part of the Phoenixville community for years to come", DeMutis stated. "We will be seeking to locate and organic food market with perhaps a direct farm to shelve retail connection by utilizing partnerships with some of the local farmers. We will attempt to fill the gaps that are located in the downtown mix.", he concluded.


Anonymous said…
Ah, but will they get funding? So much has happened with the Barto development. . . not!
Anonymous said…
While I am still skeptical for the steel site, the Barto project was a completely different animal. They were just getting approvals as the bottom was dropping out of the always tenuous condo market, and that's what they were all supposed to be.
Anonymous said…
More retail spaces? Half of the retail spaces downtown are empty and they are building more? Also, 250 apartments? Traffic is already horrendous enough as it is at rush hour.

This is a horrible idea. How about fixing up the remainder of downtown and figuring out a way to keep retail there, instead of having shops open for a few months that can't get any business.
Anonymous said…
Perhaps shops would have more business if they were open more. Some places are only open Wed-Fri. How can you expect to stay in business with out being open 7 days a week.
Anonymous said…
I am so sick of people complaining about this.

First it’s the green space people. People don’t take care of the parks we have. There is always litter in the parks and not many people seem to use them. If you care so much organize people and clean up the existing green spaces.

To all the people who complain about the existing unoccupied retail spaces. The only way retail is going to thrive in the down town is if there is more of it and good retailers. Right now there are very few people shopping the down town because there is no wide drawl. Bring in a Gap or other mid range retailer to draw people in.

Lastly stop criticizing, you don’t own the land. If you cared so much you could have all banded together and purchase it and do what you want with it be it a green space or retail store.

How about lending your support instead of running your mouth
Anonymous said…
Obviously that last post is from someone involved with this. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so don't get so bent out of shape. The previous posters are correct, why build more when the current space is unoccupied. It doesn't make sense, and this has nothing to do with any parks either. Also, the apartment complex is going to hinder the already poor traffic situation downtown.
Mikenphoenixiville said…
Actually I am Anonymous number 5.
I have nothing to gain from the Steel Site being built. Except that I want Phoenixville to survive.

I will say this once again the only way for retail to work in Phoenixville is to have enough of it and quality stores so that people will come out of their way to shop in Phoenixville.

There are quality stores in Phoenixville but there are not enough of them to drawl existing shoppers away from the Mall. We need shops similar to what they have in Manayunk.

To conclude that this development would make traffic worse is unfounded. According to the plans they would be adding new streets that would make traffic flow better. If anything is impeding traffic it’s Produce Junction.
Anonymous said…
ahh, Produce Junction. I am waiting for that place to fall into the canal.

Another problem with traffic is the cars turning right on red from Starr St going towards Mont Clare. I am sitting at the green light but I can't go because 10 cars went right on red.
Anonymous said…
I don't understand why people are so resistant to progress. The "Green Space"?? Are we referring to that unkempt area in the center of town? I am new to the area and went back there once, felt like I was in an opening scene of Criminal Minds. I think it is very admirable of developers like Demutis to take on such a risky project during this economy. Phoenixville needs projects like this to really have a "vibrant" downtown. I also agree that we need gap or trader joes to draw people into town to shop.
Anonymous said…
Until Phoenixville creates a legit white collar business park that can draw people who otherwise wouldn't come to town during the week days, we will continue to be stuck and everyone outside a few deep pocketed bar owners will be in danger of going under. Have you ever been on Bridge Street during a week day between 10 AM and 6 PM? It's a ghost town. No retailer can survive in that setting. Maybe this development will fill that need, maybe not. Either way I have no problem with them building on that dump of a site. Anything is better then what is there now (nothing).
Anonymous said…
The essential question in considering new housing is "Why would people want to live in Phoenixville"? The old steel mill site is a treasured opportunity to lay the foundation for people to want to visit and work in Phoenixville, and bring revenue into the town. Now is the time for Phoenixville to be attracting to their old steel mill site: artists and artisans, writers, entertainment industry folk, nature lovers and naturalist activities along their riverfront, (making the riverfront an attractive place to walk, sit, ride a bike, drift in a kayak, or stop for a snack and drink at a well-designed and unique restaurant establishment with a beautiful view), outreaching to college departments in the area and attracting educational communities, building an IMAX theater along with fun and unique playgrounds, staging performing and visual art events, designing great stage areas both indoor and outdoor for events, the ideas go on and on, but they are based on attracting visitors and workers to Phoenixville.
One idea whose time has come would be to market the entire retail space proposed to local retailers committed to locally-made and/or handmade goods or cooperative retailing: furniture, clothing, jewelry, soaps, ceramics, woven items (llama, sheep, etc.), food products, hand-forged iron, recycled items or newly-remade items (eg. locally-reupholstered furniture utilizing artisan hand-painted fabrics, lamps, and antiques, in addition to new items that recycle plastics, glass, machinery, etc.), art galleries, and all artisan products including quality, world-class art that is created in visual Arts Buildings right in our area in Norristown and Reading. Get ideas flowing on upstarting a unique and different marketplace with quality items made by local citizens. Make some of the space available as art studios, workshop spaces, live/work spaces, get people excited to work at the old steel mill every day. Cooperative stores can be enormously successfully operated and manned by their own members on alternate days, for example, women’s clothing and accessories can be multiple clothing makers or entrepreneurs who make their own new items, remake items, or make items from recycled materials. Independent cooperative retailers bring a lot of enthusiasm, eg. vintage items repainted or reworked to be shabby-chic and upscale. Also, there are already many wonderful makers of hand-crafted furniture and household-items in our area; they are usually present every year at the historic home show in Valley Forge. Outreach to these local artists and artisans. Attract a technical school to Phoenixville, and plan some part of the marketplace at the steel mill for locally-fabricated items in metal (doors, windows, household items, etc.). This cooperative could be a kiosk area, or plan conventions for metal-fabricated items made locally or other items locally-manufactured. Chain-stores are great at the local malls, but what is unique about the retailing at the old steel mill is what will bring in much-needed jobs and visitors, and boost the local revenue and economy of Phoenixville. Phoenixville's own citizens can get their imaginative ideas racing on how to capture a different, local retail market much appreciated by those eager to support American-made goods, items attractive to both retailers and buyers in that they support local workers and the local economy of Phoenixville.
Anonymous said…
The Phoenixville area has fabulous local organic farmers (vegetable, herbal, honey, meat, cheese) right in their own backyard, why not make a fabulous space for their delicious, quality products in farm-market stalls and eateries in the new marketplace at the old steel mill similar to the successful Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia? Phoenixville might be pleasantly surprised by the amount of shoppers who are very interested in supporting locally-made items and locally farmed-food products especially organic food products. All this enthusiasm will lead to expanded and successful main street businesses, restaurants, bed and breakfast hotels, etc. In fact, Phoenixville might be better off building on some part of their old steel mill site or nearby a great and unique one-of-a-kind hotel, owned and managed by their own citizens, while they continue to create the conditions for people to want to visit Phoenixville. Parking lots at a distance from the marketplace or town center could be accessed with fun and interesting tram rides that have great view overlooks running on tracks (rather than vehicle traffic-bound buses). Everyone loves a tram ride with an exciting view that is different, and capable of generating visitor interest and enthusiasm unique to Phoenixville. Before considering new housing renovate the wonderful, old houses already in Phoenixville; convert some of the larger ones to beautiful condos or apartments that maintain the architectural integrity of the building. Make Phoenixville a delight to walk through; investigate street lighting and pavement design. Award prizes for gardens and renovated houses; plan house tours once they are completed. Have parades that are fun to be involved in and watch. Design a wonderful garden/park near the steel mill; discuss possibilities with garden enthusiasts and arboretum experts. Get volunteers signed up for help with all aspects of the town revival. Meanwhile, create a few more roads in and out of Phoenixville, or reconfigure existing roads to handle traffic. Phoenixville has this one-in-three-hundred-year chance to make their old steel mill exciting, profitable, and a treasure for themselves, their children, and future generations. Phoenixville could live up to its name, rise from the ashes, spread its wings and … .soar.

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