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Guest Opinion

Teetering toward a tipping point in Doylestown


Court Street in Doylestown Borough is hopping. A new 1,200+-square-foot craft brewpub, an 84-seat restaurant and lower-level wine bar with additional tasting room for 20 (and residences above both) and, a few steps away, a popup beer garden and brewpub at Puck on Printers Alley. All will open in 2024. All sound like fun and I’m looking forward to trying them, but I also know a busy borough is about to get busier.

Just down the street, more development has been proposed. In 2021, Larry Thomson, a Doylestown resident and business owner, purchased the old Borough Hall and teased a “boutique hotel” for the site. I read this news with enthusiasm. Yes! A welcome development!

With rates of other boutique hotels in Doylestown, New Hope and Lambertville ranging from $200 to $400 per night (higher over holidays), and pent-up demand suggesting solid occupancy rates, a charming hotel would provide a much-needed service to the borough — and a decent ROI to the owner. A win-win.

Or so I thought.

But now, the proposal has morphed into not just a hotel, but also a combined restaurant/event space for up to 200 people. Two hundred people! Plus, any hotel guests not attending the event.

Does the infrastructure of our small town’s narrow streets and alleyways and its limited parking options support this level of intensity, density and operational logistics? I fear not. Remember, we have yet to experience the impact of the new businesses within a couple blocks. And now, a proposed hotel, restaurant and event space requiring all kinds of zoning variances — variances from zoning restrictions put in place to protect our community.

I live on the other side of the borough and, unlike many residents and existing businesses, would not be directly impacted. But. I do live in the borough. I love its small-town quaintness and vibrancy. My husband and I patronize Doylestown’s diversity of shops, restaurants, businesses, theater, health care, festivals and unique event spaces, large and small. So much is here. Except sufficient hotel space.

While parking and traffic are already a challenge in the commercial area and nearby residential streets, people — for the most part — seem to be dealing with these hurdles. But for how long? How long before people decide not to deal with it and stop coming to Doylestown due to “no parking” or “too much traffic?” How long before “diminishing returns” becomes not just a threat but a reality? How long before we reach a tipping point?

This is not a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) letter. This is a plea urging dialog and compromise for “…something beneficial for all of Doylestown...[and] sensitive to the community.” (Larry Thomson quote from Oct. 21, 2021 Bucks County Herald Page A1 article announcing the sale of Borough Hall.)

I am a retired businesswoman. I know growth and development are necessary and inevitable. But let us be very thoughtful and careful so as not to diminish or destroy the quaintness and charm that brings people to Doylestown in the first place.

Let us not reach a tipping point.

Kay Rock lives in Doylestown Borough, She is also a member of the Bucks County Herald Foundation’s board of directors.

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