DISCOVER: THE FUTURE 2018: A Banner Year for the Borough
By Bruce Schwartz, Editor, Discover Lansdale Magazine
"Life in Motion," indeed.
2018 will be a year like no other in Lansdale, kicking off a whirlwind of movement that promises to redefine the future of the borough – its economy, appearance, environment and demographics.
Several large-scale residential and retail projects, in progress or proposed, may push the population up by as many as 1,000 residents in a few short years from today’s 16,000-plus. Streets will be closed, widened, repaved and reopened. New restaurants and shops are coming to Main Street and beyond. A picturesque walking/biking/hiking trail will ultimately stretch end to end of the borough. And skateboarders will have a new home (and off public streets and sidewalks).
All this arrives, or at least starts, next year. Here’s a quick rundown of what we expect to see in 2018 and a bit beyond. Please note that dates and timelines are best guesses, and schedules can and will change.
The Liberty Bell Trail What: Paved biking/hiking/walking trail bisecting the Borough When: One section is complete, other sections will be finished in 2018, with more on the drawing boards
The ambitious Montgomery-Bucks Liberty Bell Trail project, which will wind 25 miles from East Norriton to Quakertown, runs through Lansdale from Upper Gwynedd on the southeast to Hatfield Township in the northwest corner. A section paralleling train tracks in the Andale Green development is already complete; a pedestrian crossing with flashing lights across Hancock Street to Stony Creek Park should be installed by early 2018. The Andale Green development will leave the path a couple hundred yards short of the historic Freight House, where the trail is planned to run alongside the tracks behind the freight station (a piece scheduled for summer construction), then cross South Broad at Vine Street to Railroad Avenue.
Railroad Avenue What: Centralized SEPTA bus area with shelters When: Late winter/early spring 2018
The Liberty Trail (which actually connects several big projects) will continue along Railroad Avenue behind Borough Hall. That short street, which has been closed and fenced for several years, is now dedicated to bus and emergency vehicle use only. SEPTA will route all its local lines to new commuter shelters on the street, which will be paved in concrete wide enough to allow buses to pass one another. The buses will also sit and idle at that one site, rather than waiting on Green Street as they do now. Borough Hall will open its Railroad Avenue entrance to the public, and the Liberty Bell Trail will run behind the shelters, along the side of the building and up across West Main to the next stop on our future tour.
Madison Lot/Equus Project and Madison Street Widening What: 181-unit residential/retail development, with widening and new parking along borough street When: Phase 1 and road work finished, as early as fall 2018
The Big Kahuna of downtown projects, this development was to have fenced off the former Madison Parking Lot in late October. Work could begin as early as January, and the first two buildings may be available for occupancy as soon as fall 2018. In the same time frame, the borough-owned Madison Street will be closed for widening and retooling to accommodate the new traffic flow and provide 85 spaces for visitors and shoppers. Work starts in early 2018, and Madison Street could reopen as early as fall 2018. Construction of the second and final phase of the Equus project, with three more apartment buildings, will likely run through summer 2019.
At the same time, as part of this project, the Liberty Bell Trail will be continued along the adjacent SEPTA tracks, with current plans ending around the North Penn Water tower.
More changes on West Main What: New businesses coming soon When: Late 2017 into mid-2018 and beyond
The former Masonic Hall/311 Arts building will host a new brewpub, Well Crafted Beer Company, on the lower level, which hopes to open early 2018. On the Main Street level, an Italian restaurant based on a local chain is planned. In the Hager-Schultz Building just a few doors down, Smoke Daddy Barbecue has already opened. Several interested parties have looked at the former National Auto building at the corner of Main and Wood Sts., from another brewery to a larger grocery store (which Lansdale has too-long lacked). Most of these should be in place in 2018, just in time for the influx of new residents in the Madison Project.
Fourth Street Skate Park What: A safer place to skateboard When: By late summer/early fall 2018
The hotly contested youth amenity is finally on the way to the borough’s Fourth Street Park. The first of several public meetings is scheduled for early November to allow the consultant to connect with the community on the design of the park and the surrounding area. Construction could start as early as spring 2018, and the concrete work, drainage work, landscaping and lighting of the new area should be finished by the end of summer 2018.