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Apartments eyed for Intelligencer site

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The public got a look at development plans for the former site of The Intelligencer newspaper on North Broad Street during a recent Doylestown Borough Planning Commission meeting.

Calling it a “very enhanced architectural design,” the borough’s deputy manager, Phil Ehlinger, said Calkins Investment Company, which owns the 7½ acre property, is proposing to build 224 apartments and 10,700 square feet of office or retail space on the ground floor of one of the development’s three buildings

Two of the apartment buildings will be four stories, although they will “present as three,” and the third, seven stories, Ehilinger said. The higher building will be in the far corner of the site, near Center Square Towers, another apartment complex that sits along North Broad and Atkinson streets, the deputy manager said.

Plans call for 110, one-bedroom apartments, and 114, two-bedrooms.

“This is one of the biggest developments we’ve seen or will see in the borough,” Ehilinger said.

The Calkins firm has hired Thomas Comitta Associates of West Chester to plan the development. Ehilnger said, Comitta has worked within the borough before, including the Belvedere project that fronts North Main Street. “We have a lot of history with Tom,” noted Ehlinger.

In order for the number of units for this project to be considered, it had to receive “density bonuses,” Ehlinger said. In the borough’s Broad Street Gateway District, a project can be scored on a number of factors, including its proximity to a supermarket, mass transit and public parks. Called the “Green Points Program,” Ehlinger said, it’s been expanded into the proposed zoning for the Calkins site.

However, the deputy manager quipped, “we will rezone no land before it’s time.”

Among the amenities planned for the development are Uber drop-off and loading areas and indoor secure bicycle storage. Rooftop recreational space and shared community rooms are also planned, Ehlinger said.

“It can be entirely possible to live here without a car,” he noted, although plans call for garages under the buildings.

While the issues of affordability and density are on the minds of many in the borough, including administrators, Ehlinger said, there “has to be enough density to pay for quality architecture and design … we have to find the sweet spot.”

Ehlinger noted too, that the proposed project is an opportunity to attract millennials to move into the borough. “The American dream of home ownership has changed,” he added.

Discussions are expected to continue well into next year. The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 19.

The Calkins family owned The Intelligencer, as well as other newspapers, until 2017, when it sold the media company to Gatehouse Media. It retained ownership of the Doylestown property.


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