Monday, December 17, 2007

14-story towers proposed by DeMutis 3D Group

14-story towers proposed


By G.E. Lawrence, Special to The Phoenix

PHOENIXVILLE — A year ago, the borough planning commission encouraged Manny DeMutis and the 3D Group to return with plans more specific than his initial sketch.

He did so, Thursday night. He came with the start of a master plan for the 5.5 acres along the 500 block of Bridge Street that proposed some 38,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, 448 residential units, and structured, shared parking.

All in a complex that includes two 14-story residential towers.

“Will this look out of place? Yes. Will this look out of scale? Yes. But you have to say, ‘this is what Phoenixville [in] 2020 will look like,’” DeMutis said. “This is appropriate for what Phoenixville is going to be.”

“We are proposing a very dense development,” he continued. “The only way developers can achieve density and economies of scale is to go up.”

“Have you sold all of Renaissance South [a residential project at Church Alley and Prospect Street]?” asked commission chair Deb Johnston. “Have you sold all of the units over Iron Hill? Why more residences?”

“There’s a demand,” DeMutis said. “If you have one person making $40-50,000 per year, or a couple making $100,000, tell me where they can buy. These are all affordable, homeowner-occupied condos. We sold four units in a week above Iron Hill.”

In addition, he said, “each tower is 15-20 percent commercial space. Eleven thousand square feet [of the project] are already pre-leased, with another 20,000 square feet” not yet signed but in negotiation.

In its first phase, four floors of residential units would top first-floor retail shops along Bridge. Barto Pool and Spa will be relocated to that first building. “We will keep Barto on site,” DeMutis said.

“We continue to get more residential,” said Mike Hott. “We need to go more to commercial and office space.”

DeMutis said that this project should be seen in the context of three 3D projects underway: the development of new office buildings at Two and Three Bridge Plaza, renaissance South, and the first phase of the Barto proposal. “Together this will give you 78,000 square feet of class A office space, and 100,000 square feet of retail and commercial.”

David Saneck raised issues of the impact of yet more new residential development on borough services and taxes. “These are all self-sustaining condominium associations,” DeMutis said. “Impact on the borough is on police and fire services only. And these units are paying $3,000 per every $100,000 in taxes.”

James Evans said, “I like your proposal. I’ve driven past this property for nearly 34years. It’s been badly in need of redevelopment. This is a major thoroughfare and, except for Barto, it looks like [heck]. I take my hat off to you.”

Borough planner Ray Ott estimated that the towers would rise 150 to 180 feet, but acknowledged that “you won’t see that bulk from the street because they’re set back” to the northwest portion of the site.

DeMutis added that, since the property is among the lowest in the borough, it would not be “as high above sea level” as Phoenixville Hospital.

“The question is not whether this is appropriate, but whether you have somebody willing to build it,” DeMutis said.;jsessionid=Q5ytHlYSDwjP4sHMGfTnyYZpLpqwQl3bnPF1M1W4H2Q70sSnZQjn!430512877?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_article&r21.content=/PVN/_RSSFeed/TopStories/TopStoryList_Story_1272937&r21.pgpath=/PVN/News

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