Lower Merion Planning Commission: “The ’70s Called and They Want Their Strip Mall Back”

east wynnewood road

One of the odder buildings that WP Realty is planning to demolish in pursuit of its East Wynnewood Road development plan.

Let’s put it bluntly: The Lower Merion Planning Commission and many other like stakeholders pretty much hate WP Realty’s redevelopment plan for East Wynnewood Road — the plan that includes a new Whole Foods at the corner of Lancaster Avenue. The developer now owns everything from Lancaster Avenue to Penn Road except Citizen’s Bank, and presented more plans for the corridor on Monday to the commission. Though the Whole Foods has been approved, the demolition and development of existing commercial parcels also owned by WP haven’t yet gotten the official go-ahead.

From the Main Line Times:

…the developer has proposed two one-story, free-standing buildings, set back from the street with parking primarily in front in what planners called “a typical suburban design.”

A 7,200-square-foot retail building, to be occupied by one to four tenants, and a 3,652-square-foot bank building with two drive-thru lanes are proposed.

Looking at those plans Monday, planning commission Co-Chairman Charles Howland mused, “The ’70s have called, and they want their strip mall back.”

Community planner Marley Bice was one of the members of the Montgomery County Planning Commission who offered alternative scenarios for the development, without any luck. Echoing Howland’s point of view, Bice wrote in a review letter:

“The redevelopment of this site provides an opportunity for the developer to be at the forefront of the transformation of the Wynnewood commercial area and bringing this district into the 21st century with a design that breaks away from generic, auto-oriented pad-site development.”

WP Realty developed the Mayfair Shopping Center at Frankford and Levick, which, it’s true, does not inspire confidence that this development will be more exciting than Howland’s assessment. The Whole Foods that WP Realty is developing, which has been approved, is slated to open in 2015. These other plans, though controversial, also have tentative approval.

WP Realty’s tentative plan for East Wynnewood Road development moves forward [Main Line Times]