Whit­pain hears plan for of­fice park site

The Ambler Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Thomas Celona

It’s taken a decade, but a long-term mas­ter plan for the for­mer Unisys prop­erty LV finDlly Ln SlDFH.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from CRUSRUDtH 2IfiFH 3URSHUties Trust, a pub­licly traded UHDl HVtDtH Ln­vHVt­mHnt fiUm fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing and mDnDJLnJ RI­fiFH SURSHUtLHV, pre­sented their plan for the SURSHUty GuULnJ thH WhLt­pain Board of Su­per­vi­sors Sept. 18 meet­ing. The plan calls for trans­form­ing the area into a 10-build­ing com­plex with 1.6 mil­lion square IHHt RI RI­fiFH VSDFH DLmHG Dt FUHDtLnJ D thULvLnJ RI­fiFH park.

The fu­ture of the for­mer Unisys prop­erty — a 137acre area in the Blue Bell sec­tion of the town­ship lo­cated along Union Meet­ing Road just north of the North­east Ex­ten­sion — has been the sub­ject of nu­mer­ous plans dur­ing the past decade, in­clud­ing one for a hospi­tal eight years ago, ac­cord­ing to board Chair­man Joseph 3DlmHU. 7hH tRwnVhLS hDV

been search­ing for a com­pat­i­ble prop­erty use and also asked the owner to present a long-term plan rather than pre­sent­ing in­di­vid­ual build­ing projects piece­meal.

tayne Lin­gafel­ter, pres­i­dent of ClmT’s de­vel­op­ment and con­struc­tion division, out­lined the com­pany’s past and on­go­ing efIRUWV WR UHnRvDWH fivH RI­fiFH build­ings, along with fu­ture plans to add an ad­di­tional fivH EuLOGLnJV.

Ar­bor­crest, as the prop­erty is now known, is di­vided into four parcels, three of which ClmT owns. An­other en­tity owns the fourth, but it is work­ing with ClmT on the mas­ter plan, ac­cord­ing to Lin­gafel­ter. lf the 137 acres, 84 are zoned in­dus­trial, with the re­main­der zoned for re­search and engi­neer­ing.

To date, ClmT has in­vested $69 mil­lion in the prop- erty, cre­at­ing 730,000 VTuDUH IHHW RI RI­fiFH space in four build­ings, with ap­prox­i­mately 490,000 square feet oc­cu­pied by var­i­ous ten­ants, ac­cord­ing to /LnJDIHOWHU. 7hH fiIWh VWUuF­ture on the prop­erty is cur­rently a shell of a build­ing un­der­go­ing de­vel­op­ment.

lne of the build­ings fea­tures an amenity cen­ter with an eatery, con­fer­ence rooms DnG D fiWnHVV FHnWHU.

“that we’re try­ing to cre­ate here in the long run LV Dn RI­fiFH FDPSuV,” /Ln­gafel­ter said.

Lin­gafel­ter said sev­eral RI WhH RI­fiFH EuLOGLnJV DUH al­most 50 years old, and ClmT has in­vested in orGHU WR PRGHUnLzH WhH RI­fiFH park.

“te now are at the point where we’re ready to ad­vance that vi­sion,” he said.

That ad­vance­ment, as laid out in the mas­ter plan, in­cludes roughly dou­bling the prop­erty’s den­sity by con- VWUuFWLnJ fivH RI­fiFH EuLOGings, along with a park­ing garage. The new con­struc­tion would bring the bus­inHVV SDUN’V WRWDO RI­fiFH space to ap­prox­i­mately 1.6 mil­lion square feet, ac­cord­ing to Lin­gafel­ter. Un­der town­ship zon­ing, 2.3 mil­lion to 2.4 mil­lion square feet would be al­lowed, he noted.

“te’ve worked hard at how we’ve lo­cated those on the map,” Lin­gafel­ter said, not­ing the high­est-den­sity build­ings would be lo­cated far­thest from the ad­ja­cent res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood. The plan also calls for signL­fiFDnW EuIIHUV DnG VHWEDFNV VHSDUDWLnJ WhH RI­fiFH park from res­i­dences.

Com­mon out­door ar­eas Ln WhH RI­fiFH SDUN wRuOG be avail­able to town­ship res­i­dents, ac­cord­ing to Lin­gafel­ter. Ad­di­tion­ally, ClmT has agreed to in­cor­po­rate the on-site lake into the town­ship trail sys- tem and also has talked to the town­ship about a trail DURunG WhH RI­fiFH SDUN WhDW would con­nect to the trail sys­tem.

thile Lin­gafel­ter was hes­i­tant to put a time frame on the pro­posed mas­ter plan, he said it might take 10 to 15 years to im­ple­ment, de­pen­dent upon the econ­omy and the abil­ity to se­cure ten­ants.

Lin­gafel­ter ac­knowl­edged the im­por­tance of con­sid­erLnJ WUDI­fiF — WhH LVVuH WhDW drew the most con­cern from the ap­prox­i­mately 35 res­i­dents in at­ten­dance.

The plan calls for main­tain­ing the cur­rent four ac­cess points, with Lin­gafel­ter VDyLnJ WUDI­fiF VWuGLHV hDvH been done and ClmT would make the ap­pro­pri­ate con­tri­bu­tion to the town­ship to off­set the im­pact on out­side WUDI­fiF SDWWHUnV.

The ac­cess point that raised the most con­cern among res­i­dents was the one ex­it­ing onto tood­land Drive, or Uni­vac Drive, on the north­east cor­ner of the prop­erty.

Richard Burns, who lives right near that ac­cess point, said he could fore­see a huge por­tion of the com­plex’s em­ploy­ees us­ing that exit. then Unisys oc­cu­pied the prop­erty, there were rou­tinely half-hour back­ups, which would be longer with more em­ploy­ees in the of­fiFH SDUN, hH VDLG.

“That’s way too much WUDI­fiF,” hH VDLG.

Res­i­dents also pressed C237 IRU PRUH VSHFL­fiF de­tails, such as the num­ber of em­ploy­ees the com­plex could ac­com­mo­date and the num­ber of planned park­ing VSDFHV — fiJuUHV /LnJDIHOter did not have on hand for the pre­sen­ta­tion on the con­cep­tual plan.

“The meat and pota­toes were lack­ing tonight,” res­i­dent Ed metko said.

The board and town­ship staff said the pur­pose of the pre­sen­ta­tion was to hear about the long-term con­cept, while plans for each in­di­vid­ual build­ing would have to go through the usual land de­vel­op­ment process and come be­fore the board.

“thile this may seem like a cur­sory re­view or a skele­ton, get­ting to the skele­ton has been quite a jour­ney,” malmer said.

The mas­ter plan does not need to be ap­proved by the board, but some type of agree­ment would be needed to cre­ate an un­der­stand­ing be­tween the town­ship and ClmT about the gen­eral idea for square footage, build­ing lo­ca­tion and DFFHVV SRLnWV DW WhH RI­fiFH park, ac­cord­ing to town­ship So­lic­i­tor Jim Garrity.

“The goal here is to de­velop that prop­erty in a way that is vi­brant for the town­ship but is com­pat­i­ble for the neigh­bors,” malmer said.

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