Limerick Pointe Mixed Use Community Case Study
|Master Developer: Ridge Swamp Associates, LP|
|Location: Ridge Pike and Swamp Pike, Limerick Township, Montgomery County|
|Project Area: 36-acres|
|Uses: Sr. Living Facility/Townhomes/Retail/Medical Office|
The master developer of Limerick Pointe has owned this property for several years and has worked with the township on various concepts for redevelopment. While the location and size of the property was prime for multiple uses, the development of the land faced various substantial challenges.
LANDCORE was retained to spearhead the design and permitting efforts, and to assist the development team in overcoming these challenges. Our goal was to make this project a reality and enable the developer to realize a return on their investment.
The project consists of four distinct development phases, along with substantial regional roadway and infrastructure improvements. The phases of the project are broken down as follows:
- Phase 1: Roadway Improvements & 160-unit Senior Living Facility
- Phase 2: 156-unit Townhouse Development
- Phases 3 & 4: Multiple Retail Development Pads & Medical Office Building
From the onset of this project, we worked alongside the master developer client. Later, we added partnerships with the owner and operator of Arcadia at Limerick Pointe senior living community and the developer/builder of the proposed townhouse development.
CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS
The challenges of this project involved zoning, traffic issues, sewer service, stormwater management and construction logistics issues. These challenges, and the teams’ solutions are summarized below:
The project’s initial hurdle was to create a by-right use in the existing Zoning District, since the Township Code did not originally allow for a Mixed-Use Development. We worked with the Client, their Land Planner, and the project Attorney to draft the necessary code language to permit such a project. The Township was concerned about the proportion of various uses throughout the site, which required us to prepare various Conceptual Master Plans to ensure that the Client had rights to various future uses through the multiple phases. As part of the Zoning approval process, this project was also required to obtain Conditional Use Approval. We worked with the project team to prepare the necessary exhibits and testimony to secure the Conditional Use Approval.
A main challenge to this property was that it was adjacent to a problem intersection and stretch of roadway that have been the center of long-standing traffic issues that plagued locals and commuters. Solutions to this problem would involve a costly and complex relocation and realignment to remedy. Various stakeholder were involved including the Township, County, PennDOT and the adjoining property owners. Our office worked with the project team, led by the traffic engineer for this aspect of the design, and determined that a roundabout solution would be best suited for the area rather than a four-way stop or traffic signal. We accounted for the many circulation and geometry considerations required to maintain access for the existing properties’ internal roadways and the neighboring cemetery. To ease disruption for commuters, we called for the initial phase of the roundabout to be built “offline” to minimize the detour duration while relocating an active roadway. We also applied enough foresight to build in considerations for all major utilities during this initial phase of this project to ensure access and capacity for future development phases.
Sanitary Sewer Service
Our initial due diligence identified concerns about whether the sanitary sewer capacity was sufficient to handle the project’s full buildout. Before accepting the costly and time-consuming solution of downstream sewer pipeline upgrades/replacements, we surveyed and analyzed the downstream system which revealed an isolated section of piping that had a lower slope and therefore was restricting capacity in the system above that point. Armed with this knowledge, we creatively designed our on-site sewer piping to connect to the system downstream of that restricting section, thereby avoiding costly relocations and delays.
Developing a stormwater design that was effective, economical and that met the PaDEP NPDES regulations was made challenging on this site due to the clay soils that underly the entire property which are not conducive to the necessary groundwater infiltration requirements. The other design challenge was that the overall stormwater and grading design needed to take into consideration the phased construction and permitting of each component of the project. Given the unique site issues, we took advantage of our experience and agency contacts and were able to utilize a newly approved alternative stormwater BMP, only recently allowed for situations with such soil conditions. By utilizing this design methodology, project yield was maintained, and a more cost-effective stormwater design was achieved.
Between the design and approval of Phases 1 and 2, PaDEP published significant changes to various important guidance documents related to the NPDES regulations. Accordingly, our designers were able to come up with a forward-thinking design for Phase 2 that accommodated the State’s new guidance while still aligning with the approved Phase 1 design. As one of the first projects to submit under the new regulatory guidance, so we worked alongside the agencies to navigate unchartered territory. Through our technical expertise and relationships with agency staff, we paved the way not only for approvals for this project, but also for future alternative stormwater BMP designs that will assist other projects and developers in overcoming similar challenges.
A key concern of the developer was that our design would enable the phased construction of the project and keep site construction costs to a minimum. The phasing continuity was especially challenging in our grading and stormwater design and required regular checks on earthwork cut/fill quantities to ensure an efficient construction process. For instance, the roadway portion of Phase 1 of the project required an abundance of dirt to lift the ground enough to meet slope and tie-in requirements. To avoid the cost of trucking and hauling dirt on and off the site, we utilized dirt on the site of the not-yet-designed Phase 2 townhouse development. As such, we modified our conceptual grading plan to account for the much lower townhouse site than initially conceptualized. Our process centered on careful planning, coordination, and management of grading and earthwork to balance the needs of the roadway in Phase 1 without hurting the development potential of the townhouses in Phase 2.
On top of the design and permitting challenges summarized above, communication and coordination was paramount to this project’s success. The multiple stakeholders, developers of each phase, master developer, agency contacts, consultants and contractors demanded regular and concise communication of status and timing updates, as well as coordination between design requirements, preferences, and contractual obligations. Furthermore, knowledge and experience of the various use-types on the project was essential.
At the time of writing, Phase 1 of Limerick Pointe is successfully in progress. The enhanced roadway has recently opened to traffic, and Arcadia at Limerick Pointe senior living facility is slotted to open in 2020. The Phase 2 townhouse development, Everleigh at Limerick Pointe is also under construction. LANDCORE is proud to have been an integral part of the project team to see this project through to its successful completion. We are also privileged to have worked with our client and all developers involved in this project.