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Old 09-26-2019, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
5,549 posts, read 2,707,472 times
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The reason KofP took off is because of its location: it sits at the junction of two of the region's three busiest freeways, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Schuylkill Expressway, along with a major suburban arterial, US 202 (which is now a freeway from the Schuylkill to West Chester). And as in Tysons Corner, the nucleus around which the edge city formed was a shopping center built at the junction.

If you look at the places where "edge cities" have sprouted, you should find that they're all next to major highway junctions - most often the intersection of a freeway radiating from the city center, a beltway around said city, and a major arterial road that provides local access to land around the junction. This is the autocentric-model equivalent of the "100 percent location" sociologist William H. Whyte described in his book "City: Rediscovering the Center" (1989 or thereabouts).

Given that so much of the region's money had already settled out that way, and given that the chief predictor of where a corporation will move to if it moves is where its CEO is willing to live - it will always move closer to that place - if an edge city hadn't developed at KOP, it would have arisen around some other highway junction. More to this point, Conshohocken and West Conshohocken only took off after Interstate 476 was completed to form a total junction with the Schuylkill Expressway right in West Conshy.
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Old 09-26-2019, 01:46 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,915 posts, read 5,330,443 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ActualUDResident View Post
If this area wasn't so assbackward, Norristown would be the thriving regional center it should be.

Instead, we have people largely from the suburbs pushing to turn KOP into one of those fake town centers in Virginia. We don't need to do that. We have actual urban town centers.

KOP is not a powerhouse or whatever other nonsense people want to say, and stop calling it Valley Forge. Valley Forge is a battlefield. KOP is a sprawled out disgrace that has literally never been important. All of those resources should go to the actual urban, actually important and historical boroughs it has continued to vacuum everything from, and those stores and businesses should be in Philadelphia. It's like people have gone mad or something, thinking bad ideas from the postwar era are good now. That rail should be in Philadelphia in the criminally underserved communities near the Art Museum. How is that not obvious to everyone else?
You don't have to like King of Prussia, but don't make up crap like that, its not true and shows your bitterness.

Plus, life is not an either or scenario. The Philadelphia region is huge and natural urban centers (Media, West Chester, Ardmore, etc.) can flourish as can newer shiny faux urban centers (King of Prussia, Glen Mills, Exton, etc.)

Plus, the recent efforts to "urbanize" sections of KoP and the addition of walking trails is certainly a huge improvement and good investment for the future of that area.

If anything King of Prussia is an asset to the region, the area houses thousands of jobs and is a retail mecca of the Northeast, I am not asking you to like it, but again, be realistic, your bitterness has taken over.

Norristowns problems and Philadelphia's problems are not the fault of King of Prussia, but its human nature to point fingers and complain.
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Old 09-27-2019, 04:26 PM
 
31 posts, read 8,303 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennsport View Post
I'm confused as to what you mean by "let this continue," and "given this treatment," and "let it age naturally." How exactly would one stop private companies from locating in KOP or developers to create housing/retail that is eagerly gobbled up by residents? You do realize we live in a free market economic system, yes? It's pretty obvious that consumers have spoken with their dollars, and they very much like living, working and playing in a newly-created town system like KOP. You speak as if you believe the government stepped in and banned development in Norristown, while demanding development and infrastructure builds in KOP.

For the record, I hate these faux newly-developed "towns," but apparently tens of thousand of residents and dozens of major companies do not share my view.
What is not natural is putting a rail line there and giving it the same legitimacy as our actually historic boroughs and sections of townships and cities. That is the only reason developers are looking to densify it.

And funny you mention that considering that it's postwar policies that in fact did redline urban communities and subsidize suburban building.

If there was no rail coming, those apartments would eventually be as low rent as a parking lot in the middle of multiple highways is for a location for residential development.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TownDweller View Post
KOP's growth and expansion is ongoing and is not the result of stupid people, or 70's thinking. Some smart people invested money there, it worked and the continued development is building on the former success. Norristown was that way once, but those days are gone. It needs to retool itself, just like Conshohocken has.

Blame Norristown for its failings, don't blame KOP.
That's beyond hilarious. KOP must've really pulled itself up by its bootstraps huh

You don't seem to understand the major differences between Norristown and Conshohocken, like location. Conshohocken is right by the city, the Main Line, and the old established communities just outside of both. Norristown is right by suburban and exurban sprawl. Conshohocken wasn't cut off by the highway for years and is a former mill town that's easier to redevelop and was basically a blank canvas. Norristown is basically a small city, is a county seat, and is Montco's favorite punching bag for negative headlines. It is the place everybody in Montco thinks of when thinking of crime, corruption, violence, and blight. It's nowhere near as bad as Reading, Chester, etc but that's the places they all associate it with. Even those of us outside of Montco. It also has to deal with the county government.

Conshohocken alone is killing places like Norristown. When you build up a ridiculously sprawled out exurban nothing like KOP on top of it and take away Norristown's position as the terminus of the rail line, that's all she wrote.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Montco eventually moved county offices to KOP or Conshohocken. Those types have never exactly been progressive or forward-thinking.

This whole thing is literally the dumbest possible thing the region could have done. People constantly talk about how progressive and innovative and pro-urban they are yet they want to pretend this postwar quality idea is anything other than the same dumb crap that screwed this area up in the first place. Rationalize it however you like but the only real reason for it is anti-urban bias. Of all the suburbs to densify. Mind boggling.
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Old 09-27-2019, 09:15 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
225 posts, read 67,862 times
Reputation: 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by ActualUDResident View Post
That's beyond hilarious. KOP must've really pulled itself up by its bootstraps huh

You don't seem to understand the major differences between Norristown and Conshohocken, like location. Conshohocken is right by the city, the Main Line, and the old established communities just outside of both. Norristown is right by suburban and exurban sprawl. Conshohocken wasn't cut off by the highway for years and is a former mill town that's easier to redevelop and was basically a blank canvas. Norristown is basically a small city, is a county seat, and is Montco's favorite punching bag for negative headlines. It is the place everybody in Montco thinks of when thinking of crime, corruption, violence, and blight. It's nowhere near as bad as Reading, Chester, etc but that's the places they all associate it with. Even those of us outside of Montco. It also has to deal with the county government.

Conshohocken alone is killing places like Norristown. When you build up a ridiculously sprawled out exurban nothing like KOP on top of it and take away Norristown's position as the terminus of the rail line, that's all she wrote.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Montco eventually moved county offices to KOP or Conshohocken. Those types have never exactly been progressive or forward-thinking.

This whole thing is literally the dumbest possible thing the region could have done. People constantly talk about how progressive and innovative and pro-urban they are yet they want to pretend this postwar quality idea is anything other than the same dumb crap that screwed this area up in the first place. Rationalize it however you like but the only real reason for it is anti-urban bias. Of all the suburbs to densify. Mind boggling.
Actually, I do understand the area and also happen to live in Conshohocken. Conshy does not border Philadelphia and it is across the Schuylkill from the Main Line and the affluent communities there. It's about 15 minutes from affluent Chestnut Hill. It does border Norristown, the Montgomery county seat.

KOP is on the same side of the river as the Main Line, and borders Wayne/Radnor. It also sits at the convergence of the Schuylkill expressway, the PA turnpike and Route 202. This last point makes it ideal for development, as pointed out by MarketSEI. Directly across the Schuylkill lies Norristown.

Norristown has six times the population of Conshohocken. It is the most populous town in Montco and the most populous county seat in SEPA outside Philadelphia. Conshy is hardly killing Norristown.

If developers thought they would get a better return in Norristown than Conshohocken or KOP, they would invest there. It is Capitalism 101. Clearly, that isn't the case. This is not a nasty, anti-urban conspiracy. It is not unethical or immortal to invest where you expect to get the best return. It's just how business is done. The developers are not idiots, they are profiting handsomely. And Montco has continued to grow, as has the area overall.

Would the new KOP Town Center housing become worthless without rail service? You have got to be kidding.

Last edited by TownDweller; 09-27-2019 at 09:30 PM..
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Old 09-28-2019, 06:45 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
5,549 posts, read 2,707,472 times
Reputation: 3500
Quote:
Originally Posted by TownDweller View Post
Actually, I do understand the area and also happen to live in Conshohocken. Conshy does not border Philadelphia and it is across the Schuylkill from the Main Line and the affluent communities there. It's about 15 minutes from affluent Chestnut Hill. It does border Norristown, the Montgomery county seat.

KOP is on the same side of the river as the Main Line, and borders Wayne/Radnor. It also sits at the convergence of the Schuylkill expressway, the PA turnpike and Route 202. This last point makes it ideal for development, as pointed out by MarketSEI. Directly across the Schuylkill lies Norristown.

Norristown has six times the population of Conshohocken. It is the most populous town in Montco and the most populous county seat in SEPA outside Philadelphia. Conshy is hardly killing Norristown.

If developers thought they would get a better return in Norristown than Conshohocken or KOP, they would invest there. It is Capitalism 101. Clearly, that isn't the case. This is not a nasty, anti-urban conspiracy. It is not unethical or immortal to invest where you expect to get the best return. It's just how business is done. The developers are not idiots, they are profiting handsomely. And Montco has continued to grow, as has the area overall.

Would the new KOP Town Center housing become worthless without rail service? You have got to be kidding.
Just so you know, one of the tragedies of the Route 100 spur is that it will miss the development best suited for it. The line will terminate at First Avenue and North Gulph Road, next to the Valley Forge Casino Resort - and about a half-mile north of the Village at Valley Forge. SEPTA and the King of Prussia (Business Improvement) District hope that the rail line's stops along First Avenue will help turn the business park along that street into a denser, more mixed-use area. Most likely you'll see SEPTA run shuttle buses between the Village/KoP Town Center and the Route 100 spur terminus; IMO just running the Route 125 bus more frequently won't work - besides, one of the goals of the 100 spur is to replace the 124/125 bus pair, which are the worst on-time performers of all SEPTA bus routes thanks to the fact that they run for about half of their length on the Schuylkill Expressway.

Charles Marohn, he of the Strong Towns and a (no longer) self-described "recovering highway engineer," has a point when he describes our autocentric post-World War II suburbs as a giant Ponzi scheme. Developments like the Village at Valley Forge, the kind I refer to as "Instant Urbanist," are both efforts to short-circuit the Ponzi scheme by extracting more ratables out of an acre of land and also attempts to retrofit urbanity onto a landscape deliberately designed to be hostile to it. The New Urbanists, picking up where Jesse Clyde Nichols* left off, have made some significant inroads into our understanding of what our urban - and I include our suburbs in this category; even with large estates and preserved open space, they're certainly not rural - land should look like, and the Instant Urbanism you've seen pop up here and there represents an effort to incorporate the lessons they have taught us into our built suburban environment.

And I'm pretty sure the fortunes of our disfavored Old Urbanist places will revive; I already see signs of this in Norristown. Because it's not as close to major highways as Conshohocken is, it won't sprout office towers, but I do think it could look more like, say, Ardmore than it does now in several years' time. The Montgomery County government - controlled by Democrats now for about six years (the husband of one of the majority County Commissioners and I are college classmates) - isn't going anywhere; it's been there since well before the current county courthouse (which IMO resembles the state capitol building of a small state) was built in 1906, and it's certainly had plenty of opportunity to move since then. The municipality has lots of substantial houses, too - friends of mine moved into one of them from Sharswood in North Philly two years ago - and with better municipal government (which it looks like it has now), it should be possible to build on these strong bones.

*J.C. Nichols, the man who developed the nation's first planned shopping center, Kansas City (Mo.)'s Country Club Plaza, and the tony residential district to its south, was one of the founders of the Urban Land Institute in the 1930s and formed and headed its Community Builders Council immediately after World War II. Some urbanist scholars see roots of New Urbanist thinking in the "Community Builders Handbook," which the council, under Nichols' direction, published in 1948. Its ideal community still segregated uses too much, but it did allow for gradations of density our postwar suburbs lack by and large, and our suburbs today might look and function much better than they do had more builders followed the handbook's guidance.

IMO, Nichols' promotion of racially restrictive covenants is a blot on his record but does not completely take away from his vision and achievements.
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Old 09-28-2019, 06:47 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
5,549 posts, read 2,707,472 times
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A brief coda to that long post I just wrote, one that explains why the push for the KofP rail spur:

Rail transit is as much about land use and real estate development as it is about moving people between points A and B, if not more so.
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Old 09-30-2019, 11:31 PM
 
10 posts, read 1,435 times
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I am currently closing on a house in Norristown, so this topic is of intense interest to me.

It seems to me that, when Norristown stages a comeback, it will be a really great place to live. To use the earlier cited examples of the county seats in the Philly suburbs, Media, Doylestown, and West Chester are three of the most walkable and interesting suburbs in the area, with much better downtowns than the average suburb. And Norristown is bigger and denser than any of them. Yet their revivals all started decades ago, while Norristown is still largely stuck in the mud.

For at least 20 years, people have been wondering when Norristown will follow the surrounding prosperous suburbs (https://www.bizjournals.com/philadel...09/focus1.html). When I was a kid, Conshohocken was just as bad as Norristown, possibly worse. Now Norristown is rougher than it was then, while Conshohocken- along with Media, Doylestown, West Chester, and especially King of Prussia - just grows more and more attractive.

But Norristown, as the original poster stated, has amazing bones. There is just too much potential for it to lag much longer. It has been held back, it seems, by a series of policies that favored newer suburbs like KoP and hollowed out Norristown. It was death by a thousand cuts, starting in the 1950's when the Pennsylvania turnpike snubbed and went right past the largest Philadelphia suburb, giving exits to the villages of Plymouth Meeting and King of Prussia instead, and Norristown's heyday ended before most of us were born.

For me, and I hope the town, the tipping point is going to be the Turnpike interchange, which will be less than a mile from my house, and give similar highway super-access (being just moments from the PA turnpike on ramp, and only 5 minutes from the starts of the Blue Route, Schuylkill Expressway, and Northeast extension as well as 202 and 422) to what King of Prussia enjoys. For me, being so close to all those highways means if I have to, I can commute anywhere in the area. And I can walk to the train station from my house, too, so if I am lucky I will work someplace I can take the train.

I really think (and am betting) that on ramp will be the start of the Renaissance for the town in general. No doubt a local boomlet will happen near the ramp. But over the next several years the conditions will be ripe for Conshohocken-style development along the river. And personally, the fact that Norristown is on a great bike path (Schuykill River Trail), a brand new bike path just got connected (Chester Valley Trail), and is within a few miles of both Valley Forge NP and the Perkiommen Trail makes me excited that Schuylkill Trail is just a couple blocks away.

There is also something I don't hear anyone talk about, but it gets me excited, and that is Barbadoes Island. It sits in the middle of the river by the bridges, more than a half mile long and up to 1,000 feet wide, Wikipedia says it is 90 acres, with only one old industrial building on the whole property. THAT could either become a fantastic park or the location of a ton of new development, a stone's throw from the train station. If they develop that properly, it will become a huge, shiny, new focal point for the town.

Who knows how long it will take to happen. Federal, state, and local policies can continue to hinder Norristown, and it has little momentum at present. But my guess is as soon as it gets a little bit chic, people will smell a winner and within a couple years of that there will be a huge stampede. If I had to predict, I would say two years after the highway ramp is completed the town will begin to start getting trendy.

Last edited by Fly Eagles Fly; 10-01-2019 at 12:01 AM.. Reason: I wanted to add something
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Old 10-01-2019, 07:55 AM
 
540 posts, read 305,315 times
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Any condos being developed?



It later maybe look similar to journal square in jersey city.
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Old 10-01-2019, 09:14 AM
 
208 posts, read 125,028 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fly Eagles Fly View Post
I really think (and am betting) that on ramp will be the start of the Renaissance for the town in general. No doubt a local boomlet will happen near the ramp. But over the next several years the conditions will be ripe for Conshohocken-style development along the river. And personally, the fact that Norristown is on a great bike path (Schuykill River Trail), a brand new bike path just got connected (Chester Valley Trail), and is within a few miles of both Valley Forge NP and the Perkiommen Trail makes me excited that Schuylkill Trail is just a couple blocks away.
One thing that Norristown could do to stand out would be to actually develop their riverfront into a destination. For all that Conshy has done right, they haven't done that--their riverfront land is pretty barren, aside from some minor industrial uses. I always thought that was a huge missed opportunity. How many communities would kill to have such prime real estate, especially in the suburbs?

A good mix of waterfront retail and parkland, working in conjunction with the Schuylkill Trail behind it? Perhaps even a Norristown version of a Spruce Street Harbor Park? That would be killer.
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Old 10-01-2019, 12:36 PM
 
23 posts, read 7,911 times
Reputation: 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fly Eagles Fly View Post
It was death by a thousand cuts, starting in the 1950's when the Pennsylvania turnpike snubbed and went right past the largest Philadelphia suburb, giving exits to the villages of Plymouth Meeting and King of Prussia instead, and Norristown's heyday ended before most of us were born.

^^ I cannot provide a source, but I read somewhere that Norristown vehemently opposed the turnpike at the time. The town was very affluent back then and did not want the added traffic. It already had traffic problems on its main streets, especially truck traffic en route to NYC via route 202. This is why a section of Dekalb is still one-way to this day!
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