"The fact that the governor of Pennsylvania took the lead todaywith what will probably be the most sizable portion of publicfunding really catapults the project into reality," John Westrum,CEO of Westrum Development Co., tells GlobeSt.com. "This providesthe first step of funding for a long overdue redevelopment of acontaminated site in an up-and-coming suburban Philadelphiatown."

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The site now holds a manufacturing facility and power stationpreviously owned by Keasbey and Mattison Co., which producedasbestos insulation and building products until the early 1970s.The endowment, which was secured from Pennsylvania's RedevelopmentAssistance Capital Program, will be used for cleanup, demolitionand infrastructure installation needed for the adaptive re-use ofthe property. The program may allot further funding for the projectin the future.

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The first phase of the cleanup is set to commence either in thefourth quarter or the beginning of 2009. In total, the remediation,Westrum says, will cost approximately $17 million. The CEO placesthe overall construction costs at around $125 million to $150million. He notes that the Democratic Legislative Caucus has alsocontributed $1 million towards the project. And he expects toreceive additional legislative and senatorial commitments in thenear future. The JV will also be working with the country and theborough to acquire additional tax incremental financing.

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Developers intend to convert the defunct power station, AmblerBoiler House, into 42,500 sf of class A office space. Reportedlythe largest building in the Borough of Ambler, the landmark'sexterior will be preserved.

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Adjacent to the structure will be the Crossings at Amblerfeaturing 288 loft-style condominiums. The residential componentwill be situated in a campus style setting with a clubhouse andvillage green. Groundwork on the residential space is anticipatedto commence next year, once the reclamation is completed.

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"What was once a bustling hub of industry became an eyesore forthe community," says Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell in a preparedstatement. "But today, we celebrate our ability to see greatpotential where others only see despair. The homes, office andrecreation areas that will rise on this site will symbolize ourcommonwealth's growing vision for community renewal and economicdevelopment."

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The mixed-use project resides within close proximity to theSEPTA R5 Regional Rail line. The Borough of Ambler has been keen onwelcoming transit-oriented developments. Just this August WB HomesInc. debuted Station Square comprised of 58 three-story townhomesnear the R5 railway.

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The pending TOD has been recognized by the Delaware Valley SmartGrowth Alliance, which also previously commended Westrum foranother of its reclamation projects. The Ft. Washington, PA-basedcompany has long been active in revitalization developmentsthroughout the Philadelphia area. One of its best-known Phillyprojects, Brewerytown Square, entailed the conversion of roughly 16acres of abandoned lots, vacant factories and former stables into595 units of townhomes, condos and apartments. The development alsofeatures a 50,000-sf grocery on the ground floor of theapartments.

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"These projects are the model for the 21st century, where you'redeveloping brownfields and focusing them on towns and boroughswhere transit was prevalent but lost its allure during the Mecca ofthe automobile, which is now becoming expensive to operate,"Westrum tells GlobeSt.com. "For the residential portion our targetmarket is double income no kids, single income no kids as well asempty nesters and those folks want to be able to leave their homes,walk about 300 feet and jump on a train to get to Philadelphia orsome of the surrounding towns and boroughs."

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