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AMBLER, PA-For the reclamation of a Brownfield site here, a joint venture of Westrum Development Co., Strategic Realty Investments LLC and Summit Realty Advisors have been awarded $4.6 million in state funding. The roughly 10-acre property will eventually house the partnership’s office and residential development.

“The fact that the governor of Pennsylvania took the lead today with what will probably be the most sizable portion of public funding really catapults the project into reality,” John Westrum, CEO of Westrum Development Co., tells GlobeSt.com. “This provides the first step of funding for a long overdue redevelopment of a contaminated site in an up-and-coming suburban Philadelphia town.”

The site now holds a manufacturing facility and power station previously owned by Keasbey and Mattison Co., which produced asbestos insulation and building products until the early 1970s. The endowment, which was secured from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, will be used for cleanup, demolition and infrastructure installation needed for the adaptive re-use of the property. The program may allot further funding for the project in the future.

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

Developers intend to convert the defunct power station, Ambler Boiler House, into 42,500 sf of class A office space. Reportedly the largest building in the Borough of Ambler, the landmark’s exterior will be preserved.

Adjacent to the structure will be the Crossings at Ambler featuring 288 loft-style condominiums. The residential component will be situated in a campus style setting with a clubhouse and village green. Groundwork on the residential space is anticipated to commence next year, once the reclamation is completed.

“What was once a bustling hub of industry became an eyesore for the community,” says Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell in a prepared statement. “But today, we celebrate our ability to see great potential where others only see despair. The homes, office and recreation areas that will rise on this site will symbolize our commonwealth’s growing vision for community renewal and economic development.”

The mixed-use project resides within close proximity to the SEPTA R5 Regional Rail line. The Borough of Ambler has been keen on welcoming transit-oriented developments. Just this August WB Homes Inc. debuted Station Square comprised of 58 three-story townhomes near the R5 railway.

The pending TOD has been recognized by the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance, which also previously commended Westrum for another of its reclamation projects. The Ft. Washington, PA-based company has long been active in revitalization developments throughout the Philadelphia area. One of its best-known Philly projects, Brewerytown Square, entailed the conversion of roughly 16 acres of abandoned lots, vacant factories and former stables into 595 units of townhomes, condos and apartments. The development also features a 50,000-sf grocery on the ground floor of the apartments.

“These projects are the model for the 21st century, where you’re developing brownfields and focusing them on towns and boroughs where transit was prevalent but lost its allure during the Mecca of the automobile, which is now becoming expensive to operate,” Westrum tells GlobeSt.com. “For the residential portion our target market is double income no kids, single income no kids as well as empty 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 or some of the surrounding towns and boroughs.”

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