From Devon Manor to The Royal Devon?
Developer Brian O’Neill confirms that he’s now the proud owner of the large and long-in-the-tooth nursing home/rehab complex on Lancaster Ave.
Residents and patients are being relocated, 124 staffers are looking for new jobs, and Devon Manor goes dark next month.
This is prime real estate, folks – 8.6 acres with lots of frontage on Route 30 and a deep lot. And just a skip and a jump from the Devon train station.
So what will O’Neill do with it?
“I’m working out township issues before I go public,” the King of Prussia-based developer tells SAVVY.
(Easttown Planning Commission Chair Mark Standish tells us he has yet to see a plan, btw.)
While we wait, let’s ponder the possibilities, shall we?
- an outpost of O’Neill’s current passion project, Recovery Centers of America, a one-stop shop for addiction services? Hmmm. O’Neill already has the green light to put an RCA near Paoli Hospital. Unless that falls through, another one in nearby Devon seems doubtful. Or does it? O’Neill is flush with venture capital funding for his RCAs and feels the sky’s the limit for his community-based addiction centers.
- An office park? Nah. O’Neill’s built them by the bushel but companies are hightailing it back to Center City to accommodate millennials, leaving behind lots of vacant cubicles, especially in Berwyn and Chesterbrook.
- A sparkling new assisted living facility or medical building? Yawn. And not really O’Neill’s thing. Still, with so many aging boomers about, he’d have no trouble filling beds.
- A hotel? Intriguing. But as far as we can tell, O’Neill’s never built one.
- Condos or apartments? Quite possible. Transit-oriented developments are opening up and down the Main Line. Witness Danley in Bryn Mawr, Village Square in Paoli, One Ardmore Place, the townhomes next to Nectar, to name a few. Maybe O’Neill delivers to Devon Yard what Eli Kahn could not: built-in foot traffic for its shops and restaurants. Besides, O’Neill loves putting up multi-family stuff, albeit in buildings perhaps a tad tall for Main Line tastes and zoning codes. He’s brought us The Royal Worthington in Malvern and the Royal Athena in Bala. Might he be plotting The Royal Devon?
Stay tuned. This could get interesting.
Meanwhile, we have new intel on Devon Yard.
Urban Outfitters explained their Incredibly Shrinking Plan for the old Waterloo site to Easttown planners Tuesday night.
- Without the hotel, extra retail, garage and apartments, the revised building footprint is a fraction of the size of the original plan presented three years ago – down from 258,000 sq. ft. to less then 50,000 sq. ft.
- The big new twist is the addition of a “boutique” and “very intimate” event venue with adjoining courtyard. No worries – we’re not talking giant wedding hall here. Events would be capped at 100 people, but with parking for 150. (Remember, Devon Boulevard – site of the much-pilloried apartment proposal – becomes a massive surface parking lot in the new plan.) Perhaps anticipating public push-back, Urban stressed that events would happen on weekend nights “after peak traffic times” at the stores.
- We might get to rub elbows with star chef Marc Vetri once in a while. The venue would include a “small, built-in kitchen” so Vetri can offer “impromptu” cooking classes. Cool.
- The large-format Anthropologie would be the only two-story structure. Anthro, Terrain, Café at Terrain and the Terrain courtyard all stay the same. Sadly, the building housing the two Vetri restaurants shrinks slightly.
Because the township wanted to give folks time to digest it, no one at the meeting was permitted to say boo about Urban’s new plan Tuesday night.
But, given this community’s history, count on questions aplenty come Oct. 25, the night township planners will host a public hearing on Devon Yard.
We also got our first gander at redevelopment plans for the now defunct Fritz Lumber in downtown Berwyn.
We told you last time that the site’s new owner, Eadeh Enterprises, wants to put up three mixed-use buildings – with retail/restaurants on the first floors and mostly one-bedroom apartments on the two floors above.
This week Eadeh unveiled preliminary sketches to Easttown planners and received across-the-board thumbs up.
Here’s what commissioners liked:
- The 12 ft. sidewalks along Lancaster Ave. and the open plazas that would allow alfresco dining and make Berwyn Village a more walkable downtown.
- The historic details. Although new, the buildings would look like they were built in the late 1800s. Think brick facades and tall, skinny windows with detailed arches. In a nice tip of the hat to the site’s history, Eadeh even mentioned putting a huge mural commemorating Fritz Lumber on the side of a building.
- The parking garage would be hidden in near the train tracks in back, would be just two levels, and reserved for shop patrons and apartment residents.
- Eadeh’s promise of enhanced landscaping and streetscaping.
Before Eadeh knocks it down, the Civil War-era lumberyard gets two curtain calls.
Unsold hardware and lumber will be auctioned off this Saturday, Oct. 8 at 8:30 a.m.
And the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is selling tickets to “Puttin’ on the Fritz … a Party in the Yard” set for Oct. 22.
The shindig will honor the Fritz family and raise funds for an even older property, the 18th-century Jones Log Barn. The Trust plans to rehab the Berwyn barn and make it the centerpiece of a Living History Center near Chesterbrook’s Duportail House.
While Easttown sizes up big changes for Devon and Berwyn village, we’re keeping an eye on hefty plans for a site just north of the Paoli train station in Tredyffrin.
Driving over the rail bridge, you can’t help but cringe at Station Square – four rundown and mostly empty office buildings at the corner of North Valley and East Central Ave.
The office park’s owner has wanted out for a few years and it shows. The few diehard tenants are on month-to-month leases.
Tredyffrin is weighing a developer’s plan to raze the two-story buildings and put up three, four-story apartment buildings with underground parking and a pool in their place.
The developer, Linden Lane Capital Partners, claims it needs (among other zoning changes) a height bonus so it can put in the high ceilings its posh rental units require. Each would have a tiny (750 sq. ft.) office/retail on the first floor, technically making them “mixed use.”
While some salivate at the prospect of 153 new households patronizing Paoli shops, others are getting agita.
Folks in the adjoining Valley Hills neighborhood say the current proposal is too tall, too dense and too, well, ugly.
Not to mention all the traffic it will dump on their already stressed streets.
And the kiddos it could add to T/E schools.
The railed balconied buildings? They belong in Miami, not the Main Line, the neighbors say.
They completely understand the township’s desire for housing at the site (zoned “Town Center”) to support downtown merchants. But they’d rather see condos – and fewer of them, darn it.
Township planners have already given the plan the green light, assuming certain conditions are met. Now it’s in Supervisors’ hands.
After everyone speaks their peace – public hearings have spanned three meetings and counting, to date – the Supes will take a vote later this fall.
There go the brides.
The Van Cleve Collection, a Main Line mainstay for 30 years, is heading east.
The Paoli store that’s dressed mothers of the bride, society gals, prom queens, and since 2008, brides themselves, will move to the Paoli Design Center in December.
The dress shop/bridal salon will become the center’s largest tenant, taking a whopping 7,500 sq. ft. of showroom space.
A new sign out front will rebrand the entire building the “Van Cleve Pavilion.” (Nice win for the store’s petite powerhouse owner, Deborah Van Cleve, eh?)
Deborah tells SAVVY she’s psyched to have “everything under one roof” and in a much newer building, to boot. Her current shop spans multiple floors in two buildings.
Décor will be “industrial chic” with glass walls, crystal chandeliers and flattering blush-colored walls.
The bridal salon will get primo space fronting Route 30. Behind it, will be three “bridal presentation rooms,” i.e. large dressing areas where brides try on gowns and pirouette before their shopping pals.
Bridesmaids, MOB/black tie dresses, sportswear/informal dresses, accessories and custom alterations will each get their own rooms.
Another bonus: Oodles more room for trunk shows, designer appearances and fashion shows in the center’s lovely landscaped courtyard and events room.
Van Cleve began in Phoenixville, then moved to the Malvern Shopping Center before settling just west of the Paoli Shopping Center 20 years ago.
We lapped up the vittles at the new Fat Ham the other day.
The only full-service spot in the KOP Mall’s new Savor food hall, The Fat Ham peddles small plates of southern comfort ($5 – $21) and moonshine (beer, wine and cocktails $4 – $12).
Good thing the plates are small ’cause the calorie counts are not.
We chickened out on the signature Hot Chicken ($16), sampling instead a less spicy bestseller, Shrimp & Grits ($18).
Rich, creamy and mighty tasty – even if we’d have preferred plumper shrimp, y’all.
As they bemoaned the calories, the couple next to us raved about their fried Chicken & Waffles ($16).
And my lunch pal was fairly happy with her smoked chicken chopped salad ($10) – although she virtuously skipped the best parts: the ranch dressing AND the bacon.
It’s the second Fat Ham and third restaurant overall for “Top Chef” winner Kevin Sbraga, one of Philly’s rising culinary stars.
Smack dab in the center of Savor, the place is outfitted with red-stained rafters, string lights and “porch” railings. Their PR agent says it’s supposed to evoke a “clean, small-scale barn in modern Charleston.”
If you say so.
With faster food joints and shoppers bustling on all sides, sure felt like a kiosk in a food court to us.
To ease gridlock, PennDot just announced plans to open six miles of road shoulders on the Schuylkill Expressway.
But don’t be breaking out the bubbly yet.
To use the shoulders, they have to widen stretches of the highway and construction won’t begin for five years. Oh, and the project’s estimated $125 million tab is not yet funded.
The Paoli Blues Fest played its last note at Paoli Village Shoppes Saturday.
The Blues Fest committee has agreed to find a new venue after the center’s merchants complained that the shindig was killing business on what should have been the busiest day of the week.
“We love the Blues Fest!” Paoli Village Shoppes owner Judy Huey tells SAVVY. But “the Blues Fest has outgrown us.” Judy says there’s no more room in her parking lot for new vendors or extra fans. And yes, the street fair’s growth has made the event “increasingly detrimental to our tenants.”
Finding a new home’s not going to be easy. Beer sales figure heavily into the Fest’s finances so it can’t just up and move to, say, Wilson Park, where such imbibing is verboten.
Soup for You!
Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi will be hawking soups on the Main Line this weekend.
Actor Larry “No Soup for You” Thomas will show up in character and ladle free samples of Soupman, Inc. soups Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Paoli Acme from 11 to noon, the Devon Acme, 12:30-1:30 and the Goshen Acme from 2 to 3.
If you haven’t checked out downtown Ardmore lately, you might want to visit this Saturday, Oct. 8.
The town’s biz association is hosting an open house with food and Tired Hands (beer) tastings, live music, sidewalk sales, pumpkin decorating, magicians and other kids stuff, giveaways and more. And parking will be free all over town. Check in at Schauffele Plaza (14 E. Lancaster) to get a program and map.
Concihairge is offering free blowouts Friday, Oct. 14 at Scout and Molly’s Boutique in the Paoli Shopping Center. Book a time at [email protected].
A SAVVY salute to a Main Line soap opera legend.
Rosemont’s Agnes Nixon, 93, passed last week after a long and glorious career writing, producing and creating two of ABC’s most iconic soaps, both set in fictionalized Main Line towns. All My Children ran for 41 years and was set in Pine Valley, aka Bryn Mawr. One Life to Live, set in Llanview, aka Ardmore, aired for 43 years.
A pioneer in bringing hush-hush topics like cervical cancer, same-sex marriage and abortion to the small screen, Mrs. Nixon received a Daytime Emmy for lifetime achievement in 2010.
And finally, health tips for handling the tricky transition to fall.
“Facing East,” the book Dr. JD Yang of Bryn Mawr’s Tao Institute just wrote with designer Norma Kamali, talks about the need to focus on lung health in autumn.
- Eat more white-colored veggies like mushrooms, leeks, onions, garlic, fennel and parsnips.
- Stay warm at night and don’t wake before 5 a.m. Your lungs recharge during 3 to 5 a.m. slumber.
- Massage the lung acupuncture points on your inside wrist creases.
- Focus on deep breathing even when exercising; keep home and office air free of dust.