Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chesco to issue RFP for major renovation in Coatesville

by Natalie Kostelni

Developers will soon get an opportunity to propose ideas on a three-part project here that economic-development officials say will foster more commercial activity.
A request for proposals is scheduled to be issued by the end of the year for the renovation of the Chester County city’s existing train station, and the construction of a new one nearby with the development of a parking lot along 3rd Avenue. A streetscaping project that will attempt to enhance an otherwise forlorn part of the city is also part of the overall plan.
“One of the nice things about the process is we’re asking the development communities what they think should go on these sites,” said David N. Sciocchetti, urban development consultant at the Chester County Economic Development Council, which is overseeing the process.
Abandoned for more than 20 years, the Coatesville train station at 3rd and Fleetwood Street was built in 1865. It is one of the oldest on the Main Line. Some have said the station reflects the ups and downs experienced over the years by Coatesville. It was once a bustling steel town and the train station was an integral part of its downtown. But once steel production wound down and the train station closed, Coatesville saw residents leave to look for employment opportunities elsewhere. Bsusinesses closed up and crime rose.
The overall project has long been viewed as one of the key factors in revitalizing Coatesville and its main commercial corridor.
The station, an Amtrak stop, sits on what is called the Keystone Corridor. There is no ticketing or other services provided. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is supporting the redevelopment and enhancing of stations along the Keystone Corridor in a multiyear program that will address different stations at different times. PennDOT has had meetings in Parkesburg, Downingtown, Paoli and Ardmore about their stations.
“At this time there are no definite timelines or plans for the Parkesburg, Downingtown or Ardmore stations,” said Erin Water-Trasat, a PennDOT spokeswoman.
So far PennDOT is in the early stages with projects at Paoli, Exton, Coatesville and 30th Street. In Coatesville, $20 million in PennDOT and federal transit dollars has already been set aside for the project. Many hope that an improved Coatesville station will eventually lead to SEPTA reinstituting regional rail service to the city.
“As you can imagine, it makes a big difference,” said Don Pulver of Oliver Tyrone Pulver Corp., which developed a Marriott Courtyard in Coatesville that opened in May and is looking to construct an 80,000-square-foot office building next to it.
“The train is more important to commuters today because they go in both directions. We’ve seen that in Conshohocken in spades. The train station has blossomed and it has changed a lot in the 20 years we have been there. Now it makes a big difference.”

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