After an Active 2022, City Avenue District Loses No Momentum Going into 2023
The City Avenue District, having celebrated numerous successes for 2022, continues into its 2023 plans, propelled by both enthusiasm and momentum.
Quick Look Back
The district’s 2022 was a time of major redevelopment on City Ave., with five major initiatives in play.
Federal Realty Investment Trust
Federal Realty Investment Trust’s plans for Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center, site of the former Lord & Taylor store, is a visionary plan of mixed-use development. The goal is to create a destination with open spaces, paths, and public gathering areas to create a vivid community rather than just a series of retail pads.
The $8 million project will include upgrading facade aesthetics, creating designated outdoor gathering areas and improving pedestrian and vehicular circulation.
In addition, its 2023 plans include up to 80 outdoor seats and eight curbside pickup spaces.
Keystone’s plans for One Belmont progressed in 2022. The project entails two new buildings for apartments and retail space in the front parking lot along City and Belmont Aves.
The development will yield a vibrant mixed-use space.
Keystone is working with Tishman Speyer and Federal Realty on connectivity plans that will ensure all three locations are accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.
Hanover announced 2022–2023 plans for a new mixed-use building at 111 Presidential Blvd. last year.
Its proposal was approved for an existing office building to be demolished and replaced by a newly constructed five-story mixed-use building. This new structure will have 25,564 sq. ft. of commercial space, with 425 residential units and 676 structured parking spaces in a wrapped parking structure.
Tishman Speyer is reimagining Bala Plaza 1, 2, and 3. The master plan includes two million sq. ft. of mixed-use development in an urban greenspace, live-work-play environment within the existing 60-acre site.
The proposal received preliminary approval by Lower Merion Township.
Saint Joseph’s University
Saint Joseph’s University is moving ahead with a key campus component: a pedestrian underpass to enable safe and direct connection between the two sides of City Avenue. The project comprises a 21-foot-wide, ADA-accessible pathway.
City Avenue District continued to invest in the safety and traffic flow of the area.
Indications of 2022 progress included:
- City Avenue Battery Backup Project: This project involved the battery backup for traffic adaptive signals at 17 intersections along City Avenue, ensuring that traffic signals remain active (even during blackouts) to increase pedestrian safety and steady traffic flow. The Local Share Grant was awarded in December 2020, and City Ave District contributed $80,000 to complete the project.
- Reopening of Presidential Boulevard to reconnect the Target shopping center access road. This improvement will support better traffic flow and overall safety by reducing the number of left-turn crash risks. The project is currently out to bid, with a slated completion date of Oct. 2023.
In 2022, City Avenue District announced the implementation of a new Community Service Representative (CSR) Bike Patrol data collection program: TrackTik.
This initiative, enabled by cell phone app, allows district CSRs to account digitally for all activities throughout their daily tours of duty and report accordingly.
Trackable milestones include:
- Visits to businesses and other establishments
- Public interactions
- Attending to quality-of-life issues such as trash, graffiti removal, repairs, and elimination of safety hazards.
All activity is collected into a central database for recording and analytic purposes.
The new program will greatly enhance what City Avenue District leaders and members see, hear, and experience, enabling them to understand and address the needs of those who live, work, and play there.
At the heart of the City Avenue District is building and facilitating opportunities for community and connection.
Last year, the organization hosted more than 20 free, community-focused events, including:
- Bala Cynwyd Community Farmers Market with Farm to City
- Cornhole for a Cause, benefiting Narberth Ambulance
- Curbside Capital Tour with The Enterprise Center
- District Bike Tour with Main Line Greenway
- Free yoga with the Merion Civic Association
- Lunch and Learn with vybe urgent care
- Meadow Lawn Alternative Lunch and Learn: Landscaping Commercial Property Survey
- Money Matters: Family Estate Planning
- Lunch and Learn with Tompkins Community Bank and Frankel Estate Planning & Elder Law
- Money Matters: Financial Wellness Lunch and Learn with Tompkins Community Bank
- Music on the Ave pop-up performances
- Summer on the Ave family day
- Valentine’s Day floral design workshop with Florals & Scrubs
The district’s 2023 plans are for an events calendar just as active, if not more.
It’s no secret that City Avenue is a prime location for businesses across many sectors and industries. In 2022, the district saw the launch of nine new businesses:
- Berson Dental Health Care
- Best Smile Dental
- City Ave Eye Care
- Halal Guys
- Kung Fu Tea
- Pagano’s Market Bala Cynwyd
- vybe urgent care headquarters
- Yoha’s Helping Hand
Board of Directors
City Avenue District benefits from the great support, knowledge, and service of its board of directors, which was integral in achieving 2022 goals and setting 2023 plans.
No district 2022 year in review would be complete without recognizing three board members who reached the milestone of 10+ years of service to City Avenue District:
- Neil Cain, Senior Tenant Coordinator, Federal Realty Investment Trust
- Michael Woodward, Principal, Woodward Properties, Board Treasurer
- State Representative Pamela A. DeLissio, 194th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Ex Officio
Last year also saw State Sen. Amanda M. Cappelletti join as an ex-officio board member, representing the 17th Senatorial District in Montgomery and Delaware Counties. Cappelletti’s district encompasses Radnor and Haverford in Delaware County and nine municipalities in Montgomery County, from Lower Merion into Norristown and Blue Bell.
New Board Member Mark T. Brennan is Vice President for Regional Development at Federal Realty Investment Trust. With over 15 years in the real estate industry, Brennan’s expertise includes large-scale mixed-use urban developments, retail, acquisitions, joint venture structures, leasing, planning, and design, entitlements, construction, and financing. Brennan will be joining the board in January 2023
Board Member, Jonathan Spergel, Esq., Partner at Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox, LLP renewed for another term. As a partner, Spergel handles a wide variety of environmental legal issues, including the environmental aspects of commercial transactions and brownfields sites, environmental insurance procurement and coverage issues, public funding opportunities, regulatory compliance counseling, and litigation for commercial, industrial, residential, and individual clients.
In Jan. 2022, Bryan Fenstermaker was appointed as the new President & CEO of City Avenue District.
Fenstermaker transitioned into the role after serving as Executive Director of Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation (PARC) and Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation.
In his first year with City Avenue District, Fenstermaker oversaw key initiatives to strengthen the area’s economic and cultural fabric, including a strategic planning initiative, reauthorization of the district, completion of the battery backup project, initial steps for a commercial corridor enhancement plan, and a retail strategy merchandising plan.
Full information on the 2022 and 2023 plans of the City Avenue District are online.
The efforts of the City Ave District uplift commercial entities throughout Bala Cynwyd;
its efforts include results like those featured in this 2021 NBC 10 Philadelphia report on the success of Black-owned businesses.
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