What Should Happen with the Perkiomen Bridge Hotel?
Located in a flood plain and cut off from the rest of our Main Street, the hotel sits at the western entrance to Collegeville Borough. Unfortunately, this historic structure has suffered extensive deterioration. Should there be a concerted drive to save the Hotel? Will our community get behind it and work together to jumpstart a long overdue renovation? Or is the building too far gone, too blighted, and too expensive to save?
To stimulate this dialogue, the CEDC has published opinion pieces on the two sides of this issue.
A critical assessment of the hotel’s condition and it’s prospects.
A reasoned argument for restoration and preservation.
If, after reading the hotel posts, you’d like to share your thoughts with us, email us at [email protected].
Collegeville Makes the List
In mid-March, the data analysis company Niche released its rankings of the best places to live in the Philly metro area for 2021. The ranking assesses overall livability, including location, quality of schools, crime rates, housing trends, employment and access to amenities.
Of the 25 communities on the list Collegeville Borough was 19th. Not bad considering we were competing against Number 1 Chesterbrook who also ranked Number 1 in the US, and the Main Line communities Ardmore, Swarthmore, Narberth and Berwyn!
We also received an overall grade of A+ for livability and an A+ for the Perkiomen Valley School District.
Business Space Available
Want to locate on Collegeville’s Main Street? We have lots of space to lease—6,000 sq. feet of it!
The former Key Bank building at 364 E. Main Street (map it) has been bought by the Keenan Ciccitto & Associates law firm partners, whose offices are next door to this Collegeville landmark. If possible, they would like to lease the building to restaurants, retail and/or needed local services to help the borough create a more vibrant Main St.
The building consists of the original Savings and Loan structure built in the 1930s and a spacious mid-century modern addition added around 1957. The addition — which comprises most of the building — has large Main Street facing windows fronted by an attractive landscaping bed. Other street and side facing walls could accommodate windows as well.
The combined buildings would be ideal for a restaurant or brew pub. In addition to the above mentioned windows, the main room is approximately 60 x 50 feet and there are several rooms suitable for private dining rooms and brewing. Otherwise the property could be divided into two or three businesses.
Interested individuals should contact Rowan Keenan directly at (610) 489-6170. Visit the KeyBank, 364 E. Main Street listing on LoopNet for details.
Collegeville as an Arts Destination
At the Jan. 25 Business Development Committee (BDC) meeting, resident Chris Bartkowski presented more ways to bring arts to the borough’s business district. This was a continuation of a discussion from a previous meeting where Robert Botti showed us how Collegeville could benefit from the addition of murals.
Chris described adding of the arts as a form of “creative placemaking,” which leverages the power of the arts, culture and creativity to improve beauty and quality-of-life in a town. He suggested that the art be part of a strategy for the town that ties in and evokes the town’s character, and makes people feel welcomed. Art on Collegeville’s Main Street would echo and augment the arts focus of the Ursinus College campus and the Berman Museum.
“We want people to come and connect, and to have shared experiences with other residents. Our art will help to create the identity of our community. Art also helps to bring foot traffic and customers to our business district,” Chris explains.
Here are some examples of sculptures, art on electrical boxes and bus shelters that Chris showed from other communities:
Promoting Collegeville’s Small Businesses
At the same BDC meeting, Rachel Riley, Director of Communications for the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, discussed ways that Collegeville businesses could benefit from being members. Despite its name, the group promotes businesses throughout Montgomery County. They are funded by a 4% tax on Montgomery County hotels and receive money from memberships.
The group markets businesses in Montgomery County regionally, nationally, and internationally. Our individual businesses can join, and the borough and CEDC can join in order to support all our businesses. Once life turns back to near normal in late 2021/2022, the CEDC will join to support all our small businesses. Visit the Valley Forge & Montgomery County website to see their Make it Main Street and other promotions.
Borough Business Spotlights
We have spotlighted two borough businesses on our website this month:
Collegeville Royal Farms Open for Business
Royal Farms Convenience Store and Gas Station opened at 207 E. Main St. (map it) in mid-February. Widely known for its fried chicken, it also offers deli sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, coffee and more, and is open 24 hours a day.
Main Street Greenway
Our Montgomery County planner, Mike Lowrey, is studying ways to connect all our trails to form a “Collegeville loop.” This collection of connected trails could bring area residents along our Main St. and through Ursinus College. Mike is developing what Montgomery County Planning refers to as a “Main Street Greenway.” When greenways — trails, stream valleys and open spaces — are connected to Main Streets, they help to enhance a community’s vibrancy and foster economic development.
The effort is getting a boost from the College, which last month submitted a grant proposal to develop a trail through the campus. The trail will connect Main Street with the Perkiomen Creek trail at Rt. 29.
Mike also envisions a trail system that would connect to the planned Creekside park the borough will build on W. First Ave (map it). Although the borough received a grant for over $100,000 last year to build the park, we can’t begin work until the Lower Perkiomen Valley Regional Sewer Authority vacates the area.
Visualizing the Details
In revitalization, nothing is more important than planning. It enables you to visualize both community development problems and potential solutions. It’s easy to say we should fix the sidewalks here, add to the trail there, infill the streetlights, bring in new businesses or [place your great idea here]. But to get all those things done, someone or a group of someones has to create a strategic plan so all the pieces fit together. This involves managing documentation, presenting the ideas and plans to business and community leaders and the public for discussion, and making adjustments and changes as a result of the input.
Below are some of the planning slides Mike Lowrey presented at recent BDC meetings. They demonstrate that whether we understand the process or not, someone is coordinating our work and the process is moving forward. In these slides alone he covers parking and zoning necessary for business development; and park and trail connections which support quality of life in the borough and region.
In 2021, the BDC will be focusing on drafting Collegeville Borough’s updated Revitalization Plan. Plans are to begin engaging the community on the plan this summer. Stay tuned.
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