Why the fuss about this block?
What is happening in Ardmore?
Despite widespread opposition from residents, merchants, customers, business owners, civic associations, and preservation groups, in January 2005 the Township approved a plan that calls for the township to take buildings by eminent domain and then replace them with a 6-story retail and apartment complex attached to a 6-story parking garage. This plan, "Option B," will result in the demolition of nine long-time Ardmore establishments occupying ten buildings from the Pennywise Thrift Shop to Fellini's café. The proposed building height and increased traffic will alter the historic streetscape and the nature of our neighborhood.
How will the Township "take" these properties?
Through an outdated Pennsylvania State statute intended to allow municipalities to purchase private property for the public good in order to redevelop blighted areas, such as slums. The intent of the law is that eminent domain can only be exercised for a public use. The proposed use of eminent domain in Ardmore to take well established and viable businesses and turn them over to a private developer for new retail and apartments abuses the intent of the law.
Are the buildings historic? Yes.
They are located within the Ardmore Commercial Historic District, a District establish by the Township in 1993 to "promote retention of historical integrity in the context of proposed land use changes" and to "discourage the unnecessary demolition of historic resources." (Chapter 88 of the Township Code) Under a Township ordinance they are Class I properties that should not be demolished.
Can improvements be made in Ardmore? Yes.
The community supports changes in the district that would enable businesses to prosper, maximize the use of underused buildings, enhance pedestrian access, improve traffic patterns, and create a town square and new train station.
Are there alternatives to Option B? Yes.
The Urban Land Institute, independent consultants retained by the Township in September 2004, stated that Ardmore could achieve all of its goals without the demolition of any buildings. It recommended five or six projects for revitalizing Ardmore. Unfortunately, the Township has chosen to ignore most of ULI's recommendations. A joint plan put forth by the North Ardmore and Ard-Wood Civic Associations was similarly dismissed.