Villanova has submitted plans for new boathouse in Conshohocken

In March 2023, first reported about Villanova University’s plan for a new boathouse for its rowing program at 601 Washington Street in Conshohocken (Whitemarsh Township). The following month the university officially announced the project and that it had received a lead gift from Terry and Patty Cavanaugh, whose daughter had been a captain and member of the rowing team during her time at Villanova. The university has now taken the next step and submitted plans to start the approval process in Whitemarsh Township.

Villanova’s rowing programs know this property well as they have utilized an old warehouse/industrial building on the property for more than two decades. Plans submitted to Whitemarsh Township show that almost 12,000 square feet of the existing building will be transformed into the new boathouse. The balance of the building, approximately 32,000 square feet, will be demolished to make way for a parking lot.

When the official announcement was made, Vice President and Director of Athletics Mark Jackson stated “In order to compete at the highest levels of Division I and offer the best possible student-athlete experience, we have been actively looking for a more permanent location on the Schuylkill River for our successful Rowing program. The purchase of 601 Washington Street is a significant milestone toward making our vision for Villanova Rowing a reality, and I want to thank the Cavanaugh family for their generous support of the project and Villanova Athletics.” The new boathouse will serve 600+ student-athletes on the women’s varsity and men’s club teams, coaches, and staff.

The property at 601 Washington Street had been part of a development plan from an entity associated with developer Brian O’Neill, who owned the property since 1999. This plan consisted of 270 apartments. According to Whitemarsh Township’s website, the plan received its preliminary major land development approval in October 2022. Villanova bought the property for $11.5 million in 2023.

The plans submitted to the township do show that Villanova will need zoning relief and approval on two items. The first involves the need for a special exception from the township’s zoning hearing board for the use of docks in the the Floodplain Conservation Overlay District. The second is the granting of a conditional use from the board of supervisors to allow a boathouse in the Riverfront Development Overlay District.

Neither issue has yet appeared on an agenda. More to come.