Active adult community, office buildings plan on site of deserted hospital
Thursday, December 22nd 2005
The final plan for the former Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry was unveiled at last week's meeting of the Somerton Civic Association.
Representatives from Westrum Development Co. and Brandywine Realty Trust presented diagrams of the 130-acre split residential and commercial area, located at Roosevelt Boulevard and Southampton Road. The site, a former psychiatric hospital and magnet for trespassers, is tentatively being called Eagle Pointe and will include an active adult community and office buildings. There is also a 25-acre open space that Westrum will eventually sell to a third party to maintain as a passive park.
The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., which owns the property, entered an agreement with Westrum, a residential developer, and Brandywine, a commercial builder, last September. There are currently 17 buildings left on the site; demolition will begin in February of 2006 and commence in January 2007, according to Westrum Vice President of Land Acquisition John Dean. The first home will be settled in late 2007.
"At any point that we can make this timeline quicker, believe me, we will," Dean said.
The long demolition process is due to the fact that some of the remaining buildings contain asbestos. Westrum will begin construction of the infrastructures while the last of the buildings are being destroyed.
Their plan includes a 442-house development at the middle of the Byberry site, with a community club house and pool at the center. Westrum decreased the number of homes in the plan they presented earlier this year from 491 at the request of the civic. Brandywine will construct five office buildings and build another intersection at Roosevelt Boulevard.
"Their offices are magnificent," said civic President Mary Jane Hazell. "Whatever Brandywine decides to build, I think it will be an asset to this community."
Some residents breathed a sigh of relief, while others raised concerns. Two of the biggest issues were traffic and street maintenance.
Residents were concerned about traffic on Carter Road, which runs behind the Byberry site parallel to Roosevelt Boulevard, and Southampton Road. Dean said Westrum will put a traffic light at the entrance to the residential area, which will only be accessible from Southampton Road. He said there would also be less traffic because an active adult community requires residents to be age 55 and older with no children, resulting in fewer cars and traffic.
Another concern was whether the streets in the development should be built to city standards of 34 feet wide. One resident who lives in a private community said he found out the hard way that he and his neighbors are responsible for street maintenance. Councilman Brian O'Neill (R-10) wanted a guarantee that the Byberry homeowners could turn the streets over to the city.
"I think the people in the development, once they move in, should make that choice, after they see how it works," O'Neill said.
"If they don't have the width, the city is going to say, 'You're on your own,'" Hazell said. "Unless it's 34 feet, we can't give you our support."
Dean said Westrum would attempt to accommodate the civic.
The next meeting of the Somerton Civic Association will be on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006 at 7:30 p.m. at Walker Lodge #306, located at 1290 Southampton Road.
This article was written by Lauren Fritsky and published by News Gleaner on Thursday, December 22nd 2005 and NOT owned by nor affiliated with opacity.us, but are recorded here solely for educational use. The photographs featured in the article are randomly selected from the Philadelphia State Hospital (Byberry) galleries on opacity.us unless noted otherwise; they may not directly relate to the article subject matter except for the site location - any other relation is purely coincidental.