Opinion | SEPTA, Whitemarsh Township, and Montgomery County should be joining together to purchase the David’s Bridal headquarters

We write this hoping that what we propose is already happening behind the scenes in some form. However, since governments and a transit agency are involved, we can’t be super confident. So let us lay out the case for a joint effort by Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County, and SEPTA to purchase the David’s Bridal property at 1001 Washington Street in the Conshohocken section of Whitemarsh Township, which is listed for sale.

First, Whitemarsh has already determined this need. Whitemarsh wants a fully opened Washington Street that connects to Lee Street, which would provide a crossing over the railroad tracks. The David’s Bridal headquarters was built so close to the tracks that it prevents two-way traffic. Whittemarsh has approved in recent years residential developments along the riverfront and needs access to its riverfront, which currently requires having to go through the Borough of Conshohocken.

The township conducted a study of the Spring Mill area prior to David’s Bridal’s recent bankruptcy. At that time the property wasn’t for sale and the wedding dress company wasn’t interested in knocking down the portion of the building closest to the tracks. Recommendations from the study included purchasing the property or creating a system to allow two-way traffic through the single lane.

Montgomery County should be interested in the property because it manages this section of the Schuylkill River Trail (which runs adjacent to the railroad tracks in this area) and owns the 38-acre Spring Mill Park along the trail. There isn’t a true trailhead in Whitemarsh or Conshohocken, This could be created in this area and it is also one of the recommendations from the Whitemarsh study.

As we have extensively reported, SEPTA wants to build a parking garage at the Conshohocken Train Station. Even though it has backed off from just building a garage and now wants to add another use (likely residential) on top of the garage, in the end, it still wants to build a garage.

However, the David’s Bridal property is adjacent to the Spring Mill Train Station and includes a free-standing 237-space garage. It is just 1.4 miles away from the Conshohocken station.

Anyone needing to park to use the Conshohocken station could just as easily use the station at Spring Mill with the addition of the garage to the existing 105 spaces. The garage could then serve a new trailhead on off-hours and on the weekend.

Admittingly, this doesn’t answer all the questions that will arise if the trio took on this endeavor. What happens to the existing building (rented, re-sold, torn down, etc)? With the addition of the garage at Spring Mill, how does that impact what is needed in Conshohocken?

We also write this having no idea what it would cost. There isn’t a price for the David’s Bridal property publicly available. So that is a big question mark.

However, it just makes sense for us for the three to join together to do this. SEPTA won’t have to spend tens of millions to build a garage, the township gets to complete Washington Street and connect to Lee Street, and the county could see a proper trailhead and additional parking for the trail and park.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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