The unfortunate David’s Bridal situation offers the opportunity to fully open Washington Street in Conshohocken and Whitemarsh

As has reported, Conshohocken-based David’s Bridal is in the process of laying off more than 9,000 workers across the country and has sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

We originally hesitated in writing this article, because 9,000 people losing their jobs is never a good thing no matter what ancillary benefit it may create. However, in the press release, David’s Bridal issued regarding filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it specifically states that it is looking to sell its assets, which would include the building it owns and utilizes as its corporate headquarters at 1001 Washington Street in Conshohocken (Whitemarsh Township). From the release:

Prior to today’s announcement, David’s Bridal initiated an evaluation of a wide range of strategic alternatives to maximize value for all stakeholders, including a marketing and sale process for its assets. In light of its liquidity constraints, the Company was unable to finalize its marketing and sale process out of court and intends to continue exploring a sale of all or some of its assets pursuant to section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code. Alongside these efforts, the Company is also strategically managing inventory and evaluating its physical footprint to maximize value and the prospect of a successful going concern transaction.

This building was one of the focal points of a study conducted by Whitemarsh Township on the area along the Schuylkill River and surrounding the Spring Mill Train Station. The study focused on creating better connections within the area and wider community, where recreation opportunities could be added or improved, traffic patterns, parking, and what type of development should occur going forward. It was adopted by the township but is not binding.

One key element of the study is the potential to reopen Washington Street on the Whitemarsh side of the border with the Borough of Conshohocken, which would allow for a crossing of the railroad tracks at Lee Street. Today, if you take Washington Street from the Conshohocken Train Station towards Whitemarsh, you will eventually find yourself at a dead end with no way to reach the crossing at Lee Street. The only way currently off the riverfront is one of the three crossings at Cherry, Ash, and Harry streets in the Borough of Conshohocken. A fourth at Oak Street is under construction.

As developments have been approved along the Whitemarsh portion of Washington Street, they have come with a requirement to extend the roadway. With the roadway poised to be extended, there is a second issue that once you reach David’s Bridal property. The building is constructed too close to the railroad tracks to create a proper two-lane road to reach the lone Whitemarsh railroad crossing at Lee Street. Currently, crossing the tracks at Lee Street only gets you to the David’s Bridal property.

During the study process, representatives of David’s Bridal were interviewed about the extending Washington Street and the issue with the building limiting what could be done. In a second meeting the representatives were shown a conceptual plan on how the street could be opened to two-way traffic and how much of the building would need to be removed. From the study:

They [representatives of David’s Bridal| expressed concerns with removing a part of the building to allow for a widening or extension of Washington Street. They felt that it would require temporary relocation for their operations and may be too disruptive. They also expressed that their business needs the building space that would likely be lost if a portion of the building was demolished.

This was the position as of June 2022 when the study was published. Today they are considering selling assets.

There are multiple entities that would benefit from buying the property and removing the building. Obviously, Whitemarsh has made it clear it wants to extended Washington Street to Lee Street to allow for access to and from the winter front. It has approved apartments and townhouses along the river and there isn’t a direct way to reach them from within the township.

The David’s Bridal property includes a parking deck that could be converted to SEPTA parking for the Spring Mill Train Station. Montgomery County owns the adjacent Schuylkill River Trail and the parking deck could be utilized for that as well. Once built, the county’s Cross County Trail will also be within walking distance. The Borough of Conshohocken might even want to throw some dollars at it to help ease traffic on its streets.

Please note we left out the vast majority of what the study recommended for the Spring Mill area. We just focused on opening Washington Street.

Also note that we have no idea whether Whitemarsh or anyone else is actively trying to obtain the property. We are solely basising this on the recommendations and goals from the study, which includes obtaining the property. The opportunity appears to be now.

Photo: Google