Tonight is the monthly Planning Commission meeting at Municipal Hall at 7 pm. There's only one item on the agenda:
For Property Located at:
900 Sandy Street
Property Owner: Sandy Spring Real Estate Partners, L.P, 1300 Virginia Drive, Suite 215, Fort Washington, PA 19034
Sandy Spring Real Estate Partners L.P. is requesting subdivision and land development approval to build a 157-unit luxury apartment building with surface and subsurface parking facilities.
The word that jumps out at me is "luxury." Developers rarely use that word to describe projects in Norristown. We hear "low-income, subsidized" instead.
900 Sandy is located where the street ends in a cul de sac, right before the strip of stores where Genuardi's used to be. The lot is 3.5 acres, so that would be about 45 housing units per acre, less crowded than the planned stacked condos on Cherry Street. On Sandy Street, near the town border, there's less of an impact on infrastructure than in the heart of town where we have many more residents competing for parking spaces and water pressure. And 900 Sandy Street is already zoned for apartment buildings.
On the surface, I'd say this looks like a good development for Norristown. Hopefully, our Planning Commissioners will have caught anything below the surface that's not good, like bad design or poor storm water management, and have it corrected before the project gets final approval.
The problem is, 1000 Sandy Hill Associates is based not in Norristown,
but in Jenkintown, and we're probably only a dot on a map to them. They
probably have no clue luxury apartments will be going up next door. They
probably don't care much about what happens in our town. And that's
perhaps the crux of Norristown's problem--too many out-of-town landlords
with no real vested interest in our community.