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New four-story apartment building planned for downtown Narberth

New four-story apartment building planned for downtown Narberth
December 5, 2018

NARBERTH — For the past few years, a major concern in Lower Merion has been the influx of new apartment buildings. During that time, these projects have bypassed Narberth.

Now that’s about to change as plans are in the works for a new four-story, 56-unit apartment building in the downtown area of the borough.

The project was outlined recently at a conditional use hearing inside Borough Hall.

Fred Fromhold, attorney for the developer, described the project at the meeting. Fromhold said the proposed building is located at 114 Forrest Ave. It currently has an existing office building and parking lot.

According to Fromhold, in September, the borough council passed a provision allowing apartment or mixed-use buildings in the borough’s 5A zoning district.

“So an apartment building is permitted by conditional use provided that specific criteria established in that ordinance are met,” Fromhold said.

The criteria include items such as the building is located on a corner — such as Windsor and Forrest — and that it be limited in height and stories, he said.

Robert Kagan, one of the owners of the property, said he has lived in Merion for 34 years and has had an office in the existing building since 2004. In 2006, he and a partner purchased the site.

“His office is in there, my office is in there and it was basically a friends-and-family situation, so our tenants were friends of ours,” Kagan said at the hearing.

As the years have gone by, he said, many of their friends have since left, and in 2015, they began thinking about doing something different with the building. For the past three years, they’ve been working on various ideas for the site.

“Over the past year, we’ve developed what we think is a beautiful building,” Kagan said.

Kagan described the building as currently having 42 parking spaces with lots of in-and-out trips. As for the new building they are developing, he described it as having self-contained parking.

Although many of the residents at the meeting expressed concerns over the size of the building, Kagan said the borough could use more development.

“When I look at all the growth that’s going on in every community up and down the Main Line, I think that Narberth could use a little bit of growth as well,” Kagan said. “I think that the businesses in Narberth — we’re seeing some vacancies in Narberth and I think some of the reasons that we have some of these vacancies is that we don’t have enough density, that we need a little more density. We need more income coming into the town.”

No decision was made by the borough council as the hearing on the conditional use was running late and it was continued until the December council meeting.

Written by Richard Ilgenfritz; Originally published in Main Line Times.

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