Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A plan on the Verizon?

the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority received recently for rehabbing the Verizon building at 402 Fayette Street, as well as for a historic Washington Hose and Steam Fire Engine Company, No. 1 firehouse and property next to it, on the 100 block of Fayette, said Jerry Nugent, executive director of the redevelopment authority.

A plan on the Verizon?

What to do with old telephone buildings seems a constant conundrum for cities and towns. Conshohocken knows what it wants to do — use its old phone building to house borough offices and the police department.

The questions are how and for how much.

The answers might rest in two proposals the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority received recently for rehabbing the Verizon building at 402 Fayette Street, as well as for a historic Washington Hose and Steam Fire Engine Company, No. 1 firehouse and property next to it, on the 100 block of Fayette, said Jerry Nugent, executive director of the redevelopment authority.

The borough owns the Verizon building, built around 1959, and the 1877 firehouse.

A request for proposals was issued last month, with two plans submitted Wednesday by the Brandywine Realty Trust and the Keystone Property Group. Each company offered proposals for both sites, Nugent said Monday.

Nugent could not give details of the proposals, saying officials had not yet reviewed them.

The borough would like to arrange a sale-leaseback deal, in which a developer would buy and rehab the 64,000-square feet, three-story Verizon building and allow the borough to rent 20,000 square feet of space for offices. The rest could be used for a private retail or office tenant. At one point, condominiums also were proposed.

Conshohocken borough manager Fran Marabella said Tuesday that the borough had put out bids twice before on remdiating and rehabilitating the Verizon building, which would include dealing with asbestos tiles, lead paint and mold. The bids were rejected because of cost, Marabella said.

This time, the borough asked the redevelopment authority to help.

"They have a little more flexibility — they have the contact with the authorities," he said. "They can do negotiations."

The borough bundled the Request-for-Proposal for the Verizon building, which it acquired in 2007, with the historic firehouse and two adjacent properties in the old redevelopment area between First Avenue and Elm Street along Fayette. The old firehouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A modern annex is an active firehouse, but the historic portion is vacant. It had been sold to a developer who didn’t restore it. After some court wrangling, Nugent said, the borough got it back. It could be used for office, retail or mixed use, he said.

Nugent expects the redevelopment authority and borough officials to review the proposals in about a month and make a selection in late summer or early fall.

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Jessica Parks and Carolyn Davis
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