Dranoff Selected for $150M Pennsylvania Mixed-Use Project

Dranoff Properties will meet next week with the Ardmore Negotiations Team to begin contract talks about the Philadelphia-based firm’s $150 million revitalization project for Ardmore Station in Lower Merion Township, Penn.The township’s Board of Commissioners voted this week to move ahead with Dranoff’s plan for the Ardmore Transit Center and Business District Revitalization Project. Dranoff’s initial phase calls for 335 residences, 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 12,000 square feet of office space and approximately 650 public parking spaces and 500 private parking spaces. The four-phase project would take about five years to develop. One of the early phases will include building a new train station to replace the 1950s-era railroad depot. Dranoff’s plan will build a pedestrian bridge over the Amtrak and SEPTA rail lines so shoppers at Suburban Square on one side of the tracks can more easily visit Lancaster Avenue stores and restaurants.“Our proven track record of success in any economic climate, as well as our commitment to see this vision of Ardmore fulfilled in partnership with the Township and its citizens will bring this long-awaited project to fruition,” Carl Dranoff, president of Dranoff Properties, said in a press release.Dranoff told CPN that the total square footage of the buildings developed will between 700,000 and 800,000 square feet. He said he expects construction of the train station and some parking to begin within 12 to 15 months. It will take about 12 to 18 months to complete those but Dranoff said additional phases will overlap and construction will be ongoing.The housing will be built in three phases of about 100 units each with the first residences likely to be rentals. “It will be a four-star product that could go either way (rental or condominium) depending on market conditions,” he said. Some of the units will be set aside for low-cost housing, he added. Dranoff Properties got a second chance at the project after the initial developer chosen by the township commissioners, EBL&S Co., backed out earlier this month. A story in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer by Diane Mastrull noted that developer Edward Lipkin pulled his company’s proposal because he feared he would not be able to finance his $300 million plan during the ongoing credit crunch. Dranoff had received the highest amount of votes after EBL&S back in January for the Ardmore project. Mastrull wrote today that Dranoff decided to tweak the original plan and also actively sought the support of Ardmore business and civic leaders for his revised plan. It apparently worked as Dranoff was selected Wednesday night from other plans proposed by BET Investments Inc. and Strategic Realty. Dranoff garnered 11 commissioner votes. There was also one abstention, one recusal and one board member absent.“The Dranoff presentation noted that no special easements, property rights or acquisitions would impede this team’s ability to begin immediately, which is a key consideration,” Liz Rogan, chair of the Economic Revitalization Committee for the board of commissioners, stated in the news release. Rogan also cited Dranoff’s plan to link the Lancaster Avenue businesses with Suburban Square as a plus, as well as adding more public open spaces, parking, residential, office and retail uses.Dranoff said his company has weathered previous economic downturns and didn’t think getting funding would be a problem. “Good projects with good sponsors can secure financing in any environment,” he said. In promoting his plan for Ardmore Square, Dranoff cited his team’s work on various mixed-use projects and ability to work with government, public and private entities. Earlier this year, Dranoff Properties signed a letter of intent with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to develop Two Center St., a 30- to 40-story apartment building next to the arts center in Newark, N.J. The project, which will also feature about 30,000 square feet of retail space, is expected to cost $200 million to $250 million and take about two years to build. Groundbreaking could begin within a year to 18 months, according to a Jan. 18 CPN report.The firm is also building the residential portion of Cooper’s Crossing, a $500 million mixed-use development in Camden, N.J. Dranoff Properties is expected to develop more than 1,500 condominiums and apartments on 15 acres, including 86 condos at the site of a former RCA manufacturing plant.Dranoff said his firm had already completed The Victor, 341 luxury rentals, at the site. Environmental cleanup of the RCA site is ongoing and should take about six more months to complete so that construction can begin on the condos.