The Pennsylvania Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for developer Carl Dranoff to build a luxury apartment and retail complex on the Main Line, ending a challenge by residents to stop the decade-old Ardmore project.
In an order that consisted of a single sentence, the state's highest court affirmed a Commonwealth Court ruling late last year allowing state grant money to be used to help build Dranoff's One Ardmore Place.
Residents in the Save Ardmore Coalition had argued that the $60 million, eight-story complex of high-end apartments, a parking garage, and street-level shops and restaurants was a misappropriation of state tax dollars. About $10.5 million in state aid will be used to build the project on a surface parking lot, owned by Lower Merion Township, on Cricket Avenue near Lancaster Avenue.
"We're disappointed and, obviously, we think the case should have gone forward," said Berwyn lawyer Mark Landis Freed, who represented the coalition of residents that mounted the legal challenge.
Freed said he had not investigated whether the group had any other legal recourse, but added, "My sense is, at this point the case is probably done."
Lower Merion Township officials greeted the ruling with relief.
"The township is pleased the litigation has at last come to a final disposition and looks forward to the project as approved moving forward," Paul McElhaney, president of the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners, said in a statement.
Dranoff, president of Dranoff Properties Inc., did not say when construction might begin but indicated it was in the offing.
"The Supreme Court's decision today is the signal that our vision can now become reality," Dranoff said in a statement, "and we look forward to breaking ground, constructing a beautiful centerpiece building, and creating partnerships in Lower Merion for years to come."
The project, he said Wednesday, "will create a vibrant, thriving area in the heart of the Main Line."
The $10.5 million in grant money had been approved by the Department of Community and Economic Development during the Corbett administration.
The project, initially marketed to state lawmakers a decade ago as a revitalization around the Ardmore train station, has since migrated to a lot several blocks away from the Amtrak and SEPTA hub. It no longer includes upgrading the community's forlorn, though highly trafficked, train station. That work now is in the hands of SEPTA and Amtrak, where much of the necessary funding remains uncertain.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the middle name of lawyer Mark Landis Freed.