Friday, July 26, 2013

Hope rides on a new Coatesville train station

Boarded up, with peeling paint and an empty platform, the shuttered train station at the end of Third Street is a portrait of urban blight, emblematic of so much of downtown Coatesville.
But local and state officials are pinning their hopes of getting a citywide revitalization on track with an $18 million-plus spruce-up of this underused Amtrak station.
Amtrak trains still stop at the Coatesville station - albeit without ticket sales or baggage services. Just under 15,000 people caught a ride there in 2011.
By comparison, Amtrak's Parkesburg station, also in Chester County, had 48,951 riders that year, and that was the second-lowest on the Keystone Corridor line, which runs from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
The revitalization project at the Coatesville station is part of a corridor-wide improvement project. Improvements vary from station to station. In Coatesville, they mean a new station and a focus on new streetscapes and development on and around Third Street.
Officials at the Chester County Economic Development Council hope the project encourages businesses to move into the area and spur development around the station. They gave mapped out areas with development potential and hope to tie in the train station's development with other planned projects in Coatesville, such as a velodrome and events center just off Lincoln Highway and a Lincoln University branch campus.
"It's not just a train station," said Joe Viscuso, a vice president of Pennoni Associates, the developer selected last week for the new station. "The idea is to revitalize Coatesville. There are a lot of moving parts."
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Amtrak have allocated about $18 million toward the project, and the county has set aside about $700,000.

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