(Update: Adds apartment data in paragraph 5.) Marcus & Millichap Capital Corp., New York, says it's arranged $23.5 million from local investors for Philadelphia-based Cross Properties to go ahead with its planned $30 million purchase and conversion of the four-story red-brick 120,000 sq ft former Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Palmer Seminary) dorm complex into 132 apartments and 13,500 sq ft of offices for doctors.
The seminary is just one of several apartment projects in the works or proposed for Lower Merion Township. Others include Merloc Partners' plan to build 250 apartments near the Wynnewood Septa train station; Carl Dranoff's Ardmore Place (121 units); Nolen Properties' Righters Mill Road project (284 units); and two big Schuylkill River ex-industrial sites, the former Connelly Container Corp. and Pencoyd Iron Works, which are being reviewed by builders interested in following up old proposals of King of Prussia developer Brian O'Neill to build hundreds more units on each. Also, residential development is the leading contender for the planned sale of surplus acreage and empty buildings at St. Charles Seminary at City and Lancaster Aves. across from the ex-Baptist site. Office-to-apartment conversions are also a possibility: Mack-Cali Realty last month agreed to sell 150 Monument Blvd. to local redeveloper Bill Glazer's Keystone Property Group as part of a multi-building $201 million deal.
Who's going to live in these new apartments? The Baptist site "is right across Lancaster Ave. from Lankenau Hospital, which has 4,000 employees," notes Steven Rock, the Marcus & Millichap SVP who closed the Baptist deal. "We expect medical technicians, students at St. Joseph's University," and Philadelphia residents who are having kids and looking to suburbanize to Lower Merion schools.
Lower Merion provides a well-funded alternative to the chronically fiscally challenged Philadelphia public schools and the waitlisted charter schools that have sprung up to replace them.