Lower Merion & ‘Bryn Mawr Village’ Receive 2017 Montgomery Award
The new Bryn Mawr Village, a retail and office center at Lancaster and N. Merion avenues in Bryn Mawr developed by Blank Aschkenasy Properties and Lower Merion Township, has received a 2017 Montgomery Award for Excellence in Planning and Design. The award was presented to the developer and the Township by the Montgomery County Planning Commission (MCPC) Wednesday evening, Nov. 15, 2017, at the Canopy Gardens Hall of Elmwood park Zoo in Norristown.
The MCPC said Bryn Mawr Village is “an outstanding infill redevelopment project … awarded for creative vision, effective site design, and successful collaboration. This impressive adaptive reuse project, a result of decade–long planning efforts and development initiatives, transformed a vacant, underutilized site located in the heart of the Bryn Mawr business district into a vibrant mixed-use center.”
The project rejuvenated a two-block, 3.1-acre area along Lancaster Avenue that represented a gap along the retail strip on Lancaster Avenue. The “class A” project has some 35,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 17,000 square feet of office space, and is mostly leased—including a spot that serves as Blank Aschkenasy’s new headquarters.
“As recommended in the Bryn Mawr Master Plan, we created the Bryn Mawr Village Zoning District— innovative main street zoning that imposes design and greening standards and requires parking in the rear,” said Lower Merion Commissioner Scott Zelov. “This zoning district is so effective that this new development borrowed its name. Taking an old 1920s-era utility truck parking lot, Bryn Mawr Village preserved a historic façade, widened and greened the sidewalk, and brought new restaurants and stores to Bryn Mawr. This is a well-deserved award.”
“The vision for the redevelopment of the site began in 2004 with several planning studies,” noted the MCPC. “These initiatives were paralleled by successful revitalization efforts in the business district including the transformative 9,000-member Bryn Mawr Film Institute, a new and expanded Ludington Library, and an expanded Bryn Mawr Hospital and medical office campus. In 2006, these important efforts were complemented when the Township embarked on a rezoning effort for the business district.
“The developer worked with the Township and community to ensure the site development and design were consistent with the Bryn Mawr Village Zoning Ordinance adopted in 2008. This involved promoting adaptive reuse of the garage, enhancing the village architecture and streetscape, and creating a pedestrian-friendly environment while accommodating a large 180-space parking lot consistent with the Bryn Mawr Master Plan. This shared vision and collaboration resulted in a distinctive commercial center that fits with its surroundings and connects to the larger business district.”
Above, from left: Developer Paul Aschkenasy; Lower Merion Senior Planner Andrea Campisi, Lower Merion Commissioner Scott Zelov, Lower Merion Planner Jillian Dierks, Lower Merion Assistant Township Manager Bob Duncan, Lee Casaccio (Project Architect, Bernardon), Lisa Thomas (Landscape Architect, Glackin Thomas Panzak), and Travis North (Civil Engineer, Bohler Engineering).
Also partnering on the Bryn Mawr Village project was Bohler Engineering of Chalfont; Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects PC of Kennett Square; and landscape architects Glackin Thomas Panzak, Inc. of Paoli.
The annual Montgomery Awards program, celebrating its 50th year, promotes awareness of outstanding building design and innovative site planning in communities within the county. It acknowledges the high quality of work and commitment of communities, organizations, and professionals in contributing to these excellent projects. The Montgomery County Planning Commission each year seeks out land development projects, inclusive of residential, office, commercial, and institutional uses, that exemplify good site design such as building placement, project context, parking and circulation, pedestrian amenities, landscaping, and sustainable design practices.
Winning projects are selected by a committee consisting of members from the Montgomery County Planning Commission Board. The Environmental Stewardship Award is selected by the Montgomery County Conservation District.