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Bucks County wants “fresh, new ideas” at Almshouse Road site


Bucks County envisions an “innovative” use of its property along the corner of Almshouse and Easton roads in Doylestown Township.

“We’d like to transcend a traditional, normal development; we already have plenty of retail and commercial,” said Evan Stone, executive director of the Bucks County Planning Commission, during an interview Tuesday. There are two shopping centers on the opposite side of Route 611.

In its RFI (Request for Innovation), the county said it’s looking for “an innovative and forward-thinking land development team…with fresh, new ideas.” The deadline for proposals is May 9.

For decades, the 19-acre site has been home to various county offices, including the planning commission, which is in the historic Almhouse building believed to have been built in 1868. That is the only building on the parcel that cannot be torn down, said Stone. The Neshaminy Manor nursing home, which closed in 1999, also sits on the property. County officials are seeking a grant to have that razed, the executive director said.

While the site is “underutilized and offers potential opportunity,” the county chose not to simply sell it. Instead, Stone explained, Bucks officials want to partner with a developer who can focus on a “triple bottom line” that includes financial, environmental and social considerations.

A mixed-use plan that would include a combination of attainable housing, as well as market-value homes, an institutional use and some commercial and civic uses might also share the property’s design, Stone said.

“We want to see a walkable campus that encourages multi-generational engagement and well-being around unique and inviting public spaces,” he explained.

Any redevelopment plan should protect natural and cultural resources, recognize the site’s unique historical value and incorporate renewable energy, according to planners.

Although currently zoned institutional, with various uses allowed by right or special exception, additional uses may be considered, including hotel, retail, commercial, conference center, entertainment, light manufacturing (bio-medical/technology) and “others as may be imagined.”

Doylestown Township, Almshouse Road, History, Land Development