Upper Moreland Township may be on its way to seeing the construction of a multi-story condominium building complex, known as “The Lofts on Davisville Road.”
Architect Arthur Adams of AH Adams and Company has worked with the township on other projects in the past. He presented an overview of The Lofts on Davisville Road construction project to last night’s Community Development Committee meeting.
At the meeting, Adams proposed that the construction area will take up 1.8 acres of land around 500 Davisville Road, which includes both outdoor and indoor parking to be contained underneath the residential units of the condo building itself.
Adams’ initial sketches showed that the building would stand 280 feet above sea level, which would make it just several feet shorter than the tallest commercial building in the immediate vicinity, an office building whose façade is mostly glass.
Adams said the condos could hold 50 to 90 units of either one or two stories in height, depending on a future market analysis.
According to Adams, a similar existing condominium complex, the Lofts in Hatboro, are always in high demand by renters, and more rental housing in the area is needed.
But, in addition to the need for renting units, Adams said that the driving force behind the construction is the fact that it will take place in an area looked at for revitalization.
“We wanted to capitalize on the train station,” Adams told the committee. “We looked at it from a revitalization perspective.”
Currently, the first major focus of the township’s Revitalization Task Force has been whether or not to move the train station’s current location along Davisville Road.
It’s for this reason that 350 feet of sidewalk will remain open along the complex’s Davisville Road entrance, as the expected residents would likely utilize the nearby Willow Grove Train Station.
The owner of the property, Dennis Sakelson, is also a member of the Revitalization Task Force. At the meeting, Sakelson also explained the economic benefits of having potentially hundreds of new residents living in a revitalization area, commonly referred to as Willow Grove’s downtown area.
According to Sakelson, the residents expected to rent the condos will be young professionals using public transit to commute to Philadelphia.
Sakelson also announced his plans of resigning from the task force should the project be approved, recognizing a conflict of interest.
Karen Houck, chairperson of the task force spoke during public comments. While not directly addressing Sakelson’s announcement to resign, Houck did say the project was, “tremendously exciting,” and described Adams' preliminary sketches to be attractive and good for the area.
The sketches showed a façade similar to old mill factories, with large windows, in Quakertown.
Houck added that it would be beneficial for the task force to have a first-hand look at the process of constructing such a large project.
Several commissioner and public comments also agreed that the proposed complex would be an attractive addition to the immediate area.
Ward 4 commissioner and chairperson of the committee Joseph Lavalle, who is an architect by trade, complimented Adams on the proposed design work.
“I like the angularity of it. It jumps out of the box a little bit,” Lavalle said. “I think it could be something special.”
Lavalle referred to the condo building’s rectangular placing on the proposed site, where the corner end of the building would point toward the train tracks, while the front of the building would be angled in such a way that the majority faces Davisville Road.
Adams explained that this was to capture as much solar heating as possible for the units. Other green initiatives also adhered to the township’s newly amended ordinance for storm water management, including having a 35 percent porous surface.
According to Paul Purtell, the township’s director of code enforcement, the zoning for the proposed property would first have to be changed or amended for the project to move forward. Currently, the property area lies within a C-2 zone, which is a general commercial zone.