Proposed zoning overlay amendment could bring redevelopment along Fayette Street in Conshohocken

The Borough of Conshohocken’s Main Street Overlay Task Force has completed its work and now a draft zoning ordinance will be on the agenda for the October 12th meeting of Conshohocken’s planning commission. The task force’s job was to review the current and future potential land uses along Fayette Steet with the goal of making recommendations to the borough council regarding a “Main Street Overlay” district. The planning commission will now review the proposed ordinance and make a recommendation to borough council on whether it should be adopted.

You can view the draft text of the ordinance here.

The proposed ordinance divides Fayette Street into three zones that stretch from Elm Street to 12th Avenue. The first zone extends from Elm Street on the east side of Fayette Street to 4th Avenue. On the west side of Fayette Street its extends from 1st Avenue to 4th Avenue.

The second zone extends on both sides of the street from 4th Avenue to 9th Avenue. The third zones extends from 9th Avenue to 12th on both sides of the street.

Legislative Intent of the Proposed Ordinance

The intent of the Fayette Street Corridor Overlay District is to “allow property owners along Fayette Street the option of developing/redeveloping properties according to the underlying zoning [meaning the existing zoning] or according to the FCO [Fayette Street Corridor Overlay District] Zoning and to establish development standards. The standards set were created to achieve six objectives. From the draft ordinance:

  1. Encourage economic development and redevelopment of underutilized parcels.
  2. Assist in unifying Fayette Street as an attractive, vibrant mixed-use corridor.
  3. Promote pedestrian orientation of streets and buildings.
  4. Use scale, building orientation, and landscaping to establish community identity.
  5. To incentivize lot assembly and consolidation toward the more efficient and cost-effective
    use of land.
  6. Simplify and streamline the approval process

Other things

The big push is to encourage redevelopment that results in new buildings having a mix of uses, think retail on the bottom with apartments on the top.

The height restrictions aren’t changing that much. The existing zoning for the commercial district (which runs from Elm to 8th Avenue) is 40 feet. The first zone would stay the same regarding height, however, in the second zone, it would be 45 feet or four stories. The third zone, which is the majority of the existing residential-office district, the height limit would stay at 35 feet.

The overlay doesn’t include East 1st and East 2nd avenues. It seems that any major redevelopment along the 100 block on the east side of Fayette Street would impact those blocks. They are also similar in nature to the 100 blocks, so potentially open to redevelopment as well.

Questions we have (and will answer for you)

Does the overlay allow for a Wawa along the 1100 block of Fayette Street?

The residential-office district (8th Avenue to 12th Avenue along Fayette) was established in part to prevent the large homes with the nice facades from being knocked down. Are they still protected? We aren’t sure after reading the draft ordinance several times. If not, what are the conditions under which they can be knocked down?

What will be the impact of the overlay on property values along Fayette Street?

Do commercial real estate experts think the overlay will have a significant impact? Is real estate already so expensive in Conshohocken that financially it won’t make sense to buy up property along Fayette Street for redevelopment?

More to come.