Friday, October 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Construction finally set to begin on market, condos in Chestnut Hill

Construction is set to begin on The Fresh Market and 17 condominiums at 8200 Germantown Avenue. (Neema Roshania/WHYY via PlanPhilly)
Construction is set to begin on The Fresh Market and 17 condominiums at 8200 Germantown Avenue. (Neema Roshania/WHYY via PlanPhilly)

For now, it looks more like an urban meadow than a grocery store, but a sign has sprouted in front of the six-foot-high grasses announcing that The Fresh Market is coming soon to 8200 Germantown Ave.

Construction equipment was poised to be on site as soon as last week, according to Seth Shapiro, the developing consultant for Bowman Properties.

"Our general contractor should be mobilizing equipment to begin work," Shapiro wrote in an email to NewsWorks.

What's happening at the site?

The start of construction had been scheduled for a year ago, and Shapiro had no comment on what has delayed the project.

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    The anticipated opening of the market is now fall 2015, following a lengthy construction period. The building plans have not changed in any significant way, Shapiro wrote.

    In addition to the market, the property will include 17 condominiums on the four floors above it. The cost of the retail/residential project is estimated at $30 million.

    Neighborhood scuffle

    Agreement between neighbors and Bowman came last July after two years of fighting over the construction process and the building's footprint, height, materials and retail operations.

    The battle involved zoning of the property, as well.

    Attorney Daniel McElhatton, representing a group of residents who called themselves the Adjacent Neighbors Association, objected to what McElhatton called "unconstitutional spot zoning" for the project.

    The neighbors' challenge to the zoning legislation was denied by the Court of Common Pleas.

    Compromises were reached between the residents and Bowman over the size of the project and the density of the residential units.

    Local reaction

    Concerns remain over the impact of the construction on local traffic and the level of dust and debris from the work.

    The Chestnut Hill Community Association, which helped the parties reach the agreement, "is still very much behind the project and eagerly awaits the opening of The Fresh Market," association president Will Detwiler said.

    "It is an important development and significant to the continuing upgrading and economic health of the avenue," he continued.

    The association will monitor construction operations, including how trucks load and unload, and ensure that hours of construction are appropriate.

    The Fresh Market chain, based in Greensboro, N.C., was established 30 years ago and has more than 100 stores in 20 states.

    There are currently four locations in Pennsylvania: Glen Mills, Horsham, Mt. Lebanon and Center Valley.

    A sign in front of the Chestnut Hill site has encouraged job applicants to visit the chain's website.

    NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Alan Jaffe at ajaffe@planphilly.com.

    PlanPhilly.com  is dedicated to covering design, planning and development issues in Philadelphia. The news website is a project of PennPraxis, the clinical arm of the School of Design of the University of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the Wyncote Foundation.

    Alan Jaffe PLANPHILLY
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