Ardmore $12 million grant still in limbo

At Suburban Square in Ardmore (from left), Jennifer Cooper, Holly Isdale, and Glenn Cooper dine al fresco at sweetgreen. The Coopers are from Gladwyne; Isdale is from Bryn Mawr.
At Suburban Square in Ardmore (from left), Jennifer Cooper, Holly Isdale, and Glenn Cooper dine al fresco at sweetgreen. The Coopers are from Gladwyne; Isdale is from Bryn Mawr. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 22, 2014

Six months after Gov. Corbett pulled back $12 million in state funding for residential and commercial development meant to boost downtown Ardmore, the plan's fate remains muddled.

Friends of the $50-million-plus project by developer Carl Dranoff are pressing for the money to be restored; critics want it blocked.

"There are strong feelings from a number of different entities," Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said Friday. "The governor wants all of that information. Once that flow of information stops, he'll make a decision. . . . We would expect that to be in the near future."

A state budget official in December sent Montgomery County officials a letter telling them the governor had decided not to reauthorize $12 million of a $15.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant approved under Gov. Ed Rendell.

The remaining $3.5 million is for improvements to the SEPTA and Amtrak station in Ardmore, including additional parking.

In that Dec. 12 letter, Pete Tartline of the governor's budget office said changes to Dranoff's piece of the project since the grant was first authorized put it outside the scope of the redevelopment-grant program.

Those changes included migrating Dranoff's plan for apartments, retail space, and parking to a parking lot on Cricket Avenue, across Lancaster Avenue from the station.

Since the trimming of the grant, county officials and two state representatives have lobbied the governor's office.

Rep. Tim Briggs (D., Montgomery) wants the $12 million restored; Democratic State Rep. Greg Vitali, whose district soon will cover that part of Ardmore, does not. At least three civic associations opposed to the funding have also sent letters.

Lower Merion Township officials also have expressed differing opinions on restoring the grant.

Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro said he has met about six times with Corbett chief of staff Leslie Gromis-Baker and others to emphasize the importance of the project to the community.

Part of that argument is that the Dranoff project would connect with the transit improvements by building apartments attractive to young residents who use public transportation.

Corbett officials "were very thoughtful with me in our discussions," Shapiro said, "and told me they were considering the facts that I presented to them."

He said he was hopeful that the money would be restored, since, "when you put a project like this together, it requires a multitude of funding sources."


cdavis@phillynews.com

610-313-8109 @carolyntweets

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