by Brendan Sample

Though no official proposal or decision has been made, discussions have begun on possible retail locations that could open at the Chestnut Hill Plaza on 7630 Germantown Ave. The Provco Group, a real estate management company that owns the property, talked over ideas with the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee at its latest meeting on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Mike Cooley, vice president of real estate development for Provco, was on hand to represent the organization. He is working with board member Larry McEwen, who would be hired as the architect for the project. With Provco ready to start possible construction in the spring, Cooley expressed his enthusiasm about the possibilities for the space while also emphasizing that he would only want to move forward on something that would be a good fit for the area.

“I’m really looking to show you what our ideas can be and hear from you on what your vision may be,” Cooley said. “I’m not proposing that I do any particular design, but we would like to come up with a design of this building that everyone in the community can be proud of, including us.”

Provco does have the ability to change the footprint of the building by-right without a zoning variance, but the group is hoping to keep that intact. With the space also zoned as CA-1, it would need to provide 31 parking spots for the area, and there is enough space to make that happen.

One of the focal points of Provco’s business has been helping to develop Wawa convenience stores in and around Philadelphia. but Cooley confirmed that this spot will not become another Wawa. Any fast food restaurant was also ruled out, though another type of restaurant could still be an option.

Aside from specific retail suggestions, several board members also had concerns and questions about what might happen with the landscaping of the space. While no work has been done with landscaping yet, Cooley acknowledged that it does need more attention going forward, as it is a detailed topic. Other board members specifically suggested adding more street trees along Germantown Avenue and shortening the parking lot lighting poles.

Cooley will work further with McEwen to come up with more design ideas to present to the LUPZ next month. From there, the committee can get a further sense of what may or may not be going up in the space in the near future.

The next LUPZ meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. at the Chestnut Hill Hospital.  Brendan Sample can be reached at brendan@chestnuthilllocal.com or 215-248-8819.

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