Monday, March 22, 2010

$23 million Switchville Crossing Project-Abington

"Duke Real Estate Partners, an affiliate of Revere Suburban Realty Corp., is moving forward with its $23 million Switchville Crossing project at Highland Avenue and Wharton Road in Abington.

The development comes after four years of back-and-forth with the eastern Montgomery County community and township that ended up being a productive exercise for Stan Casacio, principal at Duke Real Estate. In fact, Casacio was so encouraged by the process that he believes a similar approach could be used not only in every community facing development issues but on a national level in Washington to resolve problems on both sides of the isle.

“We planned a supermarket there originally but clearly a majority of the neighbors didn’t want it,” Casacio said.

At that point, Casacio said his company had to decide whether to push the grocery store concept through without support of the community or take another approach — listen to what the neighbors would like and go from there.

Artist's rendering of the LA Fitness at Switchville Crossing
“We hunkered down and we had ideas that ran the gamut and we focused down on a concept,” he said. “I think it wound up being a better project. It wasn’t the easiest process but we were able to get through stuff and we came out pretty well with it.”

Five years after buying the property and putting the community’s ideas on paper, Duke Real Estate broke ground on Switchville Crossing, named not only for the numerous train switches that once ran through that part of Montgomery County but also for “switching” of ideas that came together to help formthe project from both the community and township.

Switchville Crossing will have a 42,000-square-foot LA Fitness, which is scheduled to be completed by fall 2011. Duke Real Estate received financing for this portion of the development from Wilmington Trust but not after putting up strong guarantees and a lot of cash, Casacio said.

“Banks just aren’t lending today,” he said.

The second phase will be a three-story, 40,470-square-foot office building of which about 7,000 square feet will be ground level retail and banking space. The structure will be a medical office building, and Casacio hopes to attract tenants including hospital-affiliated operations or even major medical groups.

When the MOB will be ready for groundbreaking — and a construction loan — depends on the quality of tenants who sign on as well as a significant amount of pre-leasing. A 3,000-square-foot bank pad is also available.

The nearly 10-acre site has a 100,000-square-foot building constructed in 1930 that was originally owned by Philadelphia Electric. In 1968, the building was sold to Standard Pressed Steel and in 1971, it was bought by Willard Inc., an engineering firm. The building stood vacant beginning in 2002, and Duke bought it in 2005."

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