Just when you thought Urban Outfitters’ deal for the old Waterloo site might be kaput comes wondrous news: Devon Yards is alive and kicking.
Urban and developer Eli Kahn have agreed on a new plan – their fourth, by our count – that nixes both bugaboos: the four-story apartment building and the parking garage.
The revised proposal is strictly retail and restaurants – nothing residential.
Just what the neighbors ordered.
The rundown, shingled homes lining the east side of Devon Boulevard would still get bulldozed but would be replaced by surface parking instead of luxury apartments, Kahn tells SAVVY.
Also going bye-bye: the multi-level parking deck on the site’s southwest corner.
The rest of the plan is roughly the same “with a few tweaks,” he says.
So we’d still get that Terrain garden center and café we’ve been lusting for, along with a supersized Anthropologie, the two Marc Vetri restaurants, Amis and Pizzeria Vetri, and a “beautiful event space,” according to Urban’s statement announcing the new deal.
Say what? Did we miss something? The Terrain in Glen Mills hosts private parties and weddings. But an event space in Devon? News to us. One of the “few tweaks,” perhaps?
Funny, what a difference a few months can make.
Kahn has long insisted that the project had to include housing to make the numbers work for him.
So why the about-face?
First, Urban clearly didn’t want to be part of a plan that had neighbors up in arms and threatening lawsuits.
Second, Kahn really, really wanted to partner with Urban. This was his vision from Day One – not the SuperWawa, drive-thru drug store or car dealership some had feared.
Third, they somehow got the numbers to work out to Kahn’s satisfaction.
“I can’t speak to the economics; the economics changed,” Kahn says. “We spent three or four months working through the physical and economic aspects of the budget … It was always going to be a lifestyle center – first with a hotel, then with an apartment building – but these were always ancillary uses to the Devon Yards concept.”
(BTW, Urban’s now calling it Devon Yards, not Yard, so we’re doing the same.)
Only a “slight zoning change” is required for the new proposal, Kahn says.
Eli Kahn Development (trading as Waterloo Devon, L.P.) has owned the six-acre Waterloo property for three-and-a-half years now. The old garden center, once a Main Line institution, is now an eyesore that’s literally gone to seed, as neighbors shot down plan after plan.
“It’s taken longer time than anyone wanted to figure this out,” Kahn admits, but he’s pretty sure they got it right this time.
“Everyone should embrace it. It’s exactly what the community envisioned: one- or two-story buildings, retail that’s a newer, better version of Waterloo Gardens along with restaurants – a lifestyle center that will be ‘best in class’ on the Main Line and wildly successful.”
The new plan is being submitted to Easttown officials this week with the hope that township planners will add it to the agenda for their Oct. 4 meeting.
If Kahn’s right and Devon Yards 4.0 sails through the approval process, he says he’ll break ground in 2017.
Good things are worth waiting for, right?
Kahn and Co. may have given up on walk-to-train apartments in Devon, but that’s precisely what’s being proposed for downtown Berwyn.
We just got the scoop on what the new owner wants to build on the Fritz Lumber land on Rte. 30: three mixed-use buildings, each three stories high – even though zoning allows them to go up 55 ft.
Eadeh Enterprises bought the 1.8 acre site, much of it fronting Lancaster Ave., last month. Not wasting any time, the company submitted plans to the township this week.
According to Eadeh President Stacey Ballard, the first floor would be retail/restaurant and the second and third floors would be one- and two-bedroom apartments. The project calls for 12-ft. sidewalks, on-site parking and “vintage storefront facades so it looks like a turn-of-the-century downtown cluster of buildings,” she says. The beloved Berwyn Tavern stays put; Eadeh would simply build around it.
“We are excited to be moving forward with the project and feel that it will add a tremendous value to downtown Berwyn!!” she tells SAVVY.
Like Urban and Waterloo , Eadeh hopes to get Easttown planners’ feedback on its preliminary sketches Oct. 4.
Free valet parking? Don’t mind if we do.
Suburban Square’s big East Lot is closed for the foreseeable future while a multi-level parking garage goes up.
But no worries: the Square is offering free valet service. Pull up to valet stands in the West Lot (across from Ruby’s) and on St. James Place (near Not Your Average Joe’s).
Meanwhile, better brace for even tighter parking in downtown Ardmore. The town’s biggest lot on Cricket Ave. will begin closing in stages next month as construction begins on Dranoff’s mammoth One Ardmore Place.
And it looks like a second, large-scale project on the very same street won’t be far behind.
Lower Merion planners just recommended township approval of a five-story retail/apartment building at the former Gillane’s Tavern/Ardmore Autobody shop on Cricket Ave.
With Dranoff’s construction crews expected to take two years, it’s likely the two projects will overlap at some point.
Anticipating drivers’ woes, the township has kindly provided a handy dandy list of parking alternatives.
Absence has only made hearts grow fonder for Savona.
Closed for eight weeks, the Gulph Mills favorite has been a HOT HOT HOT since it unveiled a sleek new look and fishy new focus a few weeks ago.
(Not kidding about the fish. The restaurant’s now playing up its old maritime tagline, “Cucina della costa,” But there’s still plenty here for carnivores to chew on.)
The last refresh of the 18th-century building was seven years ago, so “it was time,” co-owner Evan Lambert tells SAVVY. “We’ve been here 19 years. We’ve become a place people can trust. We want to make sure we’ll be here for 20 more.”
Most dramatic change: an expanded bar (10 more seats!) with a wall of windows that looks into the sparkling new open kitchen.
To prepare for its close-up, the old kitchen was gutted and outfitted with all new equipment and pristine white subway tiles. “It’s exciting. In this day and age, people like to see what’s going on in the kitchen.” Lambert says. “It’s like watching the Food Network live.”
Also striking: the earth-toned décor of yore is now a sea of grays and neutrals adorned with abstract nautical art and chalkboards. The look is contemporary, clean, tailored. (Eight staffers stayed on to paint the place over the summer.)
The food’s more tailored, too. Fewer fussy sauces; more fresh grilled fish with simple enhancements like olive oil, lemon and herbs.
A noteworthy twist: Instead of separate menus for the bar and dining rooms, Savona’s trying out one menu for the whole place. A single sheet lists lighter, more affordable fare like crudo, apps, pizza, pasta and wood-fired casseroles, along with pricier fresh fish, “butcher” entrees and Savona “classics” (holdovers of old menu faves like Brick Chicken and Scottish Salmon). So far, diners are eating up the streamlined menu, Lambert says.
Even the landscaping and patio got a facelift.
About the only thing left untouched: the elegant wine cellar that seats up to 20 for private tastings. A Philadelphia Eagle was hosting a private tasting the night we visited. La di da.
We’re also loving the new look of the bigger and better Posh Collections in Malvern.
The eight-year-old King Street boutique last week celebrated its “grand re-opening” after doubling in size and snazzing up the décor.
Posh prides itself on head-to-toe personal styling for mall-averse shoppers. There’s in-house tailoring and stylists make house calls (!)
Best-selling brands include Joie, Theory, Trina Turk and Vince, says owner Tina Corrado. The bigger digs mean more space for new lines like popular shoe designer Marc Fisher.
If you missed the appearance of Skinnygirl founder/”Real Housewife” Bethenny Frankel in Ardmore last September, here’s a second shot.
The cocktail entrepreneur/author and reality TV star will lead interactive food demos, take questions and sign autographs at the King of Prussia Mall’s new connector Sunday, Sept. 25 from 6 to 9.
Bethenny’s adding star power to the mall’s inaugural “Evening of Giving” benefit for Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center.
The after-hours sip-and-shop fashion extravaganza is free, but you have to register online first.
Besides Bethenny, the night includes nibbles, a Tito’s Vodka Lounge, personal readings by The Raven (an “expert oracle”), trunk shows, deals, giveaways and prizes.
The mall says it’ll give a matching donation of up to $25,000 of the evening’s sales to the Abramson center. Nice.
Hey, Iggles fans! Former coach Dick Vermeil and his wife, Carol, will be sharing wines from their Napa Valley vineyard at the Radnor Financial Center Thursday, Sept 22 at 6 p.m. The Vermeils are special guests at the 6th annual Flavors of the Community benefit for KenCrest Services. A slew of local restaurants and caterers including Autograph, 333 Belrose and Harvest Seasonal Grill will dish out samples. A worthy cause, KenCrest serves newborns to seniors with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism.
And finally, a shameless plug for BOOTS ‘N’ BANDANAS, a hoedown hosted by my fave local charity, ECHOES Around the World. (Yours truly serves on its board.) Hope you’ll mosey on over to the party tent we’re pitching on the grounds of Wayne’s St. David’s Church ion Friday, Oct. 14.
We’ve rustled up authentic BBQ, country tunes, line dancing lessons, games and horsin’ around, all to support ECHOES’ vital education and healthcare programs in Uganda and N. Philly.
Plus, we’re honoring two star Stoga grads: dermatologist Pete Motel and IMC Construction’s Robert Cottone.
No need to get gussied up – jeans and boots will do. Free valet parking, too. Order your all-inclusive $95 ticket ($75 for folks under 35) today.