Revitalizing the Revitalization
When Ursinus College, Collegeville Borough, and Barth Consulting began working with Steel City Coffeehouse to transform a former dormitory and garage into a brew pub, the development looked like a shoe in.
But land and building development — including parking, architectural, engineering, environmental, and other issues — proved to be challenging — space needs could not be met in the current footprint and costs of construction and renovation proved prohibitive to both Ursinus and Steel City. For Ursinus, this is particularly true when repurposing their Main Street properties one at a time.
As a result, our revitalization thinking has now shifted from one-off development to development of a Main Street comprehensive plan. This approach will include plans for the development of all five of the college-owned buildings between 4th and 5th Aves. in an integrated fashion. The final document will include not only the plans for Steel City, but also will determine the other types of businesses to attract to our Main Street and all aspects of planning the entire scope of work for this block.
Gonna Need More Data
Contributing data to the Comprehensive Plan will be students from the College’s U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies. They are currently analyzing and compiling best practices from the best liberal arts schools listed in the 50 Most Successful College Towns in America. They are also conducting interviews in nearby towns, such as Chestnut Hill, Ambler, and others, which have successfully revitalized their Main Streets and attracted successful businesses.
Additionally, thanks to the Montgomery County Planning Commission and the efforts of Barth Consulting, the Borough Business Development Committee (BDC) now has $10,000 worth of specific ESRI marketing data for Collegeville Borough. The data, which was presented at the Committee’s Oct. 28 meeting, is an analysis of the demographic, psychographic, and socioeconomic characteristics of our population and identifies specific types of businesses which are needed in Collegeville.
Keeping lines of communication open will also be an important part of the Main Street Strategic Plan. In the next month, the BDC will be obtaining contact information for the commercial and residential building owners on Main St. between 4th and 5th Aves. in order to ask for their input and provide them with information.
Main Street Design Guidance
While searching for Main Street design guidance, we discovered that the CEDC’s Main Street program had prepared a detailed design document 11 years ago. The document outlines best practices for preserving our older Main Street buildings and makes recommendations for new construction and maintenance to preserve the look of our Main Street. Although these guidelines are not binding, they can be used as a basis for the development of design guidelines in conjunction with a Main Street Comprehensive Plan.
Locating Additional Sources of Funding
Concurrent with the planning and in support of it, the BDC created a subcommittee to identify potential county and state grants for our Main Street. As Phoenixville Borough Manager Jean Krak and Royersford Council President Anil Dahm pointed out at BDC meetings earlier this year, having a plan is a key determinant to receiving grants.
Steel City’s New Focus: Building a Brewery
Although Steel City still intends to open a restaurant/cafe and brew pub in Collegeville on Main Street, the Steel City owners’ first priority is now to secure a large enough physical space in an existing commercial building in the borough to create their Craft Brewery and a small Tasting Room.
Once a space is found and built out, they can sell from that location (mostly takeout). In the summer, the College, Borough, and CEDC will be working with them to showcase their products at outdoor events, such as beer gardens, festivals and fundraisers, while work continues on the above master plan.
Council Approves Ursinus Waiver
At the November 6 Borough Council meeting, members approved a waiver of land development for Ursinus College regarding the renovation of the Main St. entrance driveway next to The Commons. The College will improve the driveway with pavers and will add diagonal parking on the left between existing trees, some with charging stations.
Fire-Safety Inspections and Building Inspector
At their October meeting, Collegeville Borough Council adopted a new Borough Commercial Property Inspection ordinance. The ordinance authorizes annual fire-safety inspections for all borough commercial and industrial properties. The inspections will begin in early 2020. The inspections will be conducted by the borough’s new inspector, Duane Brady. Duane, who has extensive construction experience, is from LTL Consultants, Ltd.
Community Leaders attend Main Street Greenway Event
Seven Collegeville Borough community leaders attended Transforming Our Downtowns into Main Street Greenways: A Planning Smarter event presented by the Montgomery County Planning Commission.
In an hour-long slide presentation, Montco Planning experts presented best practices for introducing more plants and green spaces to our business districts which both improved the aesthetics and addressed environmental concerns.
Afterwards, participants took part in a self-guided tour of Lansdale’s downtown, where, at various locations throughout the borough, there were examples of greening solutions: a trail head at the former freight house, parking lot and street corner greening, greening with street trees, and potential rain gardens and planted sidewalk bump outs.
- Opening of the Pho Mai Vietnamese Restaurant in late November – Pho Mai is dependent on the contractor finishing work at the restaurant, hopefully before December. Meanwhile, visit the Pho Mai website to learn more about the restaurant and their healthy and delicious menu.
- No Opening Date Yet for Troubles End Brewing – The opening of this family-friendly brewpub is slated for before the end of the year. The restaurant is owned by Philly Jose Pistola Restaurant managers Dave and Nick Bellenzeni, Pistola’s owner Casey Parker, and brewer Zach Svoboda. Chef Kris Serviss, owner of Northeast Philly’s Culture on the Circle, will head up the kitchen. The bar will feature 25 types of beer on tap and an American menu. Visit the Troubles End website to learn more.
- Collegeville McDonald’s: A New Look and Digital Ordering – The new store will have a contemporary look with large windows and earth-toned exterior colors in brown and black. Inside will be digital self-order kiosks, remodeled counters for new table service, bright and easy-to-read digital menu boards, designated parking spots for curbside pick-up through mobile order and pay, and expanded McCafé counters and larger display cases. Similar to other new stores, the revamped McDonald’s will have its play equipment area replaced by a patio for outdoor dining.
- Interactive Map Planned – An interactive map of businesses and special sights in Collegeville and other towns along the Perkiomen Creek is in development by the Central Perkiomen Valley Regional Planning Commission. It will feature restaurants, special retail, and points of interest in Collegeville and Trappe, and then along the creek north through the towns of Perkiomenville, Schwenksville, and Lower and Upper Frederick. This information will be geared to attract both residents and visitors, and should be completed sometime later in 2020.
Created in January 2018, the Borough of Collegeville Business Development Committee oversees economic development and business recruitment in the borough. It is made up of volunteers from the borough and administered by a Borough Council member.