Plymouth Township’s Council approves zoning amendment to allow apartments by conditional use at the Plymouth Meeting Mall

Plymouth Township’s council voted 5-0 on June 10th to amend its zoning code to allow mid and high-rise apartment buildings within the shopping center zoning district by conditional use. The Plymouth Meeting Mall falls within the shopping center district.

This does not mean that a plan for apartments has been approved. PREIT, which owns the majority of the property at the mall, has been attempting to redevelop a space near Whole Foods Market, which consists of a long-vacant office building, with apartments. An initial proposal for 502 units went through the zoning process and was denied. That was followed by a scaled-back plan for 302 units that began the zoning hearing process, but was never completed (likely because they were working on the text amendment).

PREIT’s latest plan is for 275 units and involves improvements to the traffic flow through the mall, along with pedestrian walkways around the property. Now that the council has amended the zoning code, PREIT will go through the conditional use process before the council. During the conditional use hearing, PREIT will have to demonstrate that its proposal meets certain standards (the conditions).

This is the second time the council has amended the zoning code to allow apartments by conditional use on the mall property. In 2023, the council amended the code to allow existing buildings within the shopping center district to be converted to apartments by conditional use. Keystone Investment + Development, which owns the tall office building adjacent to the mall, sought and was granted a conditional use to convert the building into 150 apartments.

On June 5th, the township’s planning agency was provided a presentation on the zoning amendment adopted on June 10th. The planning agency voted 2-2 to take no position on the amendment. As previously reported, in 2023, the planning commission asked that the township and all of the property owners of the mall property develop a unified plan for the entire property. That has never happened.

The chair of the planning agency, Vincent Frangiosa, explains his reasoning for not wanting to recommend the zoning change for adoption in the video below.

Photo: A rendering from a previous presentation by a representative of PREIT.