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Annual report luncheon celebrates King of Prussia’s explosive growth

April 18, 2018

Source, The Times Herald, Gary Puleo

UPPER MERION>>From touting the 20 million-plus annual visitors to King of Prussia Mall to King of Prussia offering the largest concentration of commercial office, industrial flex building space in suburban Philadelphia, King of Prussia District (KOP-BID) gave a sold-out crowd tons of reasons to celebrate the ever-booming town at a recent Crowne Plaza luncheon.

“I am physically exhausted from building all of this,” joked keynote speaker Eric Goldstein, executive director of the seven-year-old business advocacy organization.

“King of Prussia District doesn’t build office buildings, we don’t build industrial buildings or housing developments. We don’t lease property or rent apartments. We don’t do a lot of the things that have brought so much attention to King of Prussia.”

To that end, Goldstein said the credit goes to such visionaries as Brandywine Realty Trust , Simon Property Group and Realen Properties.

“We owe our gratitude to the companies that have made the decision to move to King of Prussia during the last few years. Companies like GeoBlue and American College of Financial Services that decided King of Prussia would be their new headquarters. We owe our gratitude to the hundreds of retailers and restaurateurs who decided to invest in King of Prussia. We owe our gratitude to entertainment developers, who have made multi-million-dollar investments here … iFLY, the casino, Escape Room Mystery, Bury the Hatchet.”

He noted the dominance of such hotels as Hyatt House, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Fairfield Inn, all part of the lodging scene that accounts for 30 percent of Montgomery County’s available rooms.

Behind the scenes of what a detailed report called a “well-executed strategy by township leadership” leading to “an incredible surge in economic development projects across a broad cross-section of industries,” Goldstein assured all businesses that KOP-BID was working hard in the background to support them.

A vintage black and white photo of King of Prussia’s days as a one-horse town garnered laughs throughout the room when Goldstein noted that it was taken just a few years before the arrival of KOP-BID.

With a stunning variety of new businesses, multi-family developments and retail and dining establishments having opened in 2017, King of Prussia retains its status as suburban Philadelphia’s largest commercial, retail, industrial and hospitality center, the report noted.

“From the dozens of new restaurants and retailers that opened in KOP this year, to the crane-filled Village at Valley Forge, it is such an exciting time to live, work and recreate in KOP,” Goldstein said. “We are honored to work alongside the community and our township and county leadership, and share the stories of your successes in this report each year.”

A rise in housing development projects contrasted the year 2010, when there was no new housing in development, to 2017, which boasted more than 2,500 new luxury and multi-family units under construction or completed, including Canvas Valley Forge, Hanover Valley Forge and The Brownstones, all of which opened at The Village at Valley Forge last year.

Annual awards included Retailer of the Year, which went to Founding Farmers, the popular breakfast, lunch and dinner destination that opened at King of Prussia Town Center last November.

“We were absolutely thrilled, and with us being so new to the area, it was a wonderful surprise,” said Darragh Moore, Founding Farmers managing partner, following the event. “Everyone in King of Prussia and the surrounding towns has given us such a warm welcome, this helps us plant our roots a little deeper — we’re here for the long haul.”

The first Founding Farmers had opened in 2008 in Washington, D.C., quickly expanding to five locations in or around the D.C. metropolitan area.

King of Prussia marked the chain’s first out of market location.

“We opened when the world was falling off the financial cliff,” owner Dan Simon noted at a launch preview last fall. “As a business model, it was a pioneering concept and I think it is still is. I don’t know of another restaurant group where the majority partners are American family farmers. Ten years ago even the phrase ‘farm to table’ wasn’t everywhere like it is today. I don’t use that phrase anymore because I just think it’s become a marketing term. We have a lot more real, individual stories to tell about farmers and our food than trying to slap on one of those labels like ‘farm to table.’ ”

Other award winners included Vertex, Inc., GeoBlue and Brandywine Realty Trust (Commercial Office); Realen Properties (Economic Development); Pasquale Deon, chair of SEPTA board of directors (Transportation); Sheraton Valley Forge (Hospitality); Canvas Valley Forge and Bozzuto (Residential Property); Montgomery County Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh (Leadership) and Upper Merion Township Parks & Recreation (Community Outreach.)