As one of the more densely populated local areas, Ardmore is an important part of the broader Main Line. It offers retail, restaurants, public transportation, and attractive, walkable neighborhoods.
Over the past decade, stakeholders in Ardmore and Lower Merion Township have applied significant energy, thought, and resources into planning Ardmore’s future. Visible outcomes of the recent zoning and planning include the continued transformation of Suburban Square, a new train station complex underway, and the development of an eight-story luxury apartment complex, One Ardmore Place.
Suburban Square is the centerpiece of Ardmore’s walkable retail and dining offerings. As a popular evening spot for countless high school students on the Main Line, it can expect a lively summer with plenty of foot traffic. Led by Kimco Realty, the site has gone through a tremendous transformation since its time as a department-store-anchored strip center. More and more tenants fill up the newly constructed retail buildings, from Shake Shack to a Boyds Pop-Up Shop. Suburban Square is an appealing spot for shopping, dining, work, and entertainment activities. The Lower Merion Zoning Board and popular opinion would agree that it is a success.
Adjacent to Suburban Square, a $35 million redevelopment, the Ardmore Train Station, is underway. This is an important project, enhancing public transportation and Ardmore’s connectivity to the Main Line, Center City, and even New York City. Passengers can board a train at Ardmore, and arrive at New York City’s Moynihan Train Hall. By investing more in public transportation, Ardmore can reduce carbon emissions and decrease reliance on cars.
Across the train tracks to the south is Ardmore’s historic district. This area includes small businesses, single-family homes, and the two-year-old One Ardmore Place. What catches the eye first in this area is the tall structure tucked tightly among the narrow streets of Ardmore. An uncreative and bland facade towers above all other buildings and creates an unaesthetic skyline. The combination of its height, mass, and proximity to adjacent structures blocks the sun and casts a wide, and inescapable shadow.
Seventeen-year Ardmore resident and Director of Information Services, Ms. Lisa Snyder was curious about early announcements of One Ardmore Place.
“I was intrigued about how they would fit it in,” she said, referring to the surrounding dense neighborhood and narrow streets.
The building is set atop the former Cricket Lot, a public parking lot used for the small businesses on Lancaster Avenue. This parking lot offered a buffer between businesses and single-family homes. The mass of the new structure removes the buffer and blocks daylight. Put simply, the building seems misplaced on the streetscape and disrupts the context of the community.
Launching the development of One Ardmore Place was not easy, as the Save Ardmore Coalition filed a lawsuit in opposition to the construction of the building on multiple grounds. They cited parking concerns, the use of public funds for private development, and the building’s diminishment of the neighborhood’s historic integrity. Despite the protest from residents of the community, One Ardmore Place was completed and opened.
“I like how Ardmore feels neighborhoody, but One Ardmore Place feels weird because it is so big.”Ms. Lisa Snyder
One Ardmore Place offers a cautionary lesson. Is this the beginning of a trend, or is this an outlier? One would hope that this massive structure on narrow streets is an aberration and not a portend of future development.
Ms. Snyder said, “I like how Ardmore feels neighborhoody, but One Ardmore Place feels weird because it is so big.”