KING OF PRUSSIA: Energizing an Outdated Office Park with a Public Park – on Private Property

September 1, 2017

Source, Philadelphia Business Journal, Eric T. Goldstein

Times have changed. The once sought-after model of suburban office parks with easy auto access, free parking and highly manicured landscapes are just not enough to attract innovative companies these days. Townships and commercial property owners are beginning to recognize that preferences are changing and that they need to adjust to compete in today’s market.

That is why in April 2015, our organization, the King of Prussia District (KOP-BID), and Upper Merion Township (UMT) came together to start working on a visionary 2.6 mile linear park for First Avenue, in the King of Prussia business park. The linear park idea came on the heels of our successful mixed-use zoning change for the business park. THE PARK will transform currently underutilized, private lawn areas from N. Gulph Road to Allendale Road into a cohesive, continuous, active and beautiful amenity that will be open to the public.

THE PARK will serve as the latest amenity aimed at transforming the 1960s-era business park into a vibrant, active neighborhood that is more appealing to businesses, employees, visitors and residents alike.

The key to creating THE PARK was negotiating access easement agreements with different privately owned properties along First Avenue. The easements will allow KOP-BID to transform their underutilized lawn areas, part of a required 50 FT building setback from First Avenue, into a public park. With the help of more than 20 key partners, from local and state governments to private property owners, this unique project is well on its way.

In May 2017, we broke ground on the first phase of THE PARK, a 450 FT demonstration project at 650 Park Avenue. We expect to have the next phase of the full 2.6 miles of THE PARK completed by late 2018/early 2019.

This project is a proactive response to the changing preferences of commercial property owners, tenants and their employees that are located in suburban office parks.
Commercial property owners taking part in THE PARK understand that it’s no longer enough to just have great looking building interiors and amenities. Today, commercial properties in the suburbs need to offer outdoor amenities that provide easy access to public transportation and recreational opportunities. Companies and their employees are looking for dynamic and stimulating environments with passive and active (programmed) offerings.

THE PARK is just the beginning of our shared vision with UMT and the property owners. Staying true to our overall goal of transforming the entire business park into a 24/7 active neighborhood, subsequent phases will include: Phase II of the linear park; a Road Diet on First Avenue, that will add bike lanes and safe, center turn lanes; a new slip ramp off the PA Turnpike that will provide better and more direct access to the business park; and the King of Prussia Rail extension that will connect King of Prussia’s largest employment centers to University City and Center City in Philadelphia, and a host of towns along the region’s “Main Line.”

Although we have only completed THE PARK’s demonstration project at this point, KOP-BID has raised more than $2.4M to complete the next phase of the broader linear park in 2018/2019. We invite you to come see what the demonstration project looks like now, and then return in the coming years to enjoy all that the entire linear park will have to offer.

Eric Goldstein is the Executive Director of the King of Prussia District