City Ave District Vision: ‘People Believe It’s Just a Road; We’re Going to Try and Change That’

City Ave
Image via YouTube.
Among the lesser-known natural assets near City Avenue is the Cynwyd Heritage Trail.

Participants at a recent roundtable on the future of City Avenue in Bala Cynwyd outlined a bold vision for a Montgomery County community once seen as a passageway to other area destinations. Paul Schwedelson, of the Philadelphia Business Journal, captured their fervor for transforming the landscape.

Extensive Facelift

Planned projects that include residential, commercial, and open space additions represent an extensive facelift for City Avenue.

“This is a connected district,” explained City Avenue District CEO and discussion leader Bryan Fenstermaker. “It’s going to be City Ave District. It’s not City Ave, that’s just a road.

“People believe it’s just a road. We’re going to try and change that.”

Cited projects discussed at the event included:

  • One Belmont, a 270-apartment complex with retail space that has already attracted a grocery store
  • A residential site replacing the former Lord & Taylor department store in the Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center, itself the site of an $8-million refresh
  •  A five-story, 400-apartment, retail-outfitted complex on Presidential Boulevard
  • A mixed-use renovation of Bala Plaza, which sits behind the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • A residential/retail building at 202 Bala Ave., northwest of Saint Joseph’s University

The proximity of SJU is becoming a leverage point, adding an educational thread to the section’s array of present assets.

Fenstermacher said the area will be a place for people to “live, work, learn, and play.”

Citing Other Advantages

He and his colleagues at the City Ave District have been imaginatively highlighting the locale’s vast appeal and neighborhood vibe.

Easy access to the SEPTA Regional Rail line, for example, is a convenience some residential real estate shoppers might not initially consider but should.

Also attractive but perhaps not as well-known is the area’s appeal for outside exploration. City Ave is looking to leverage Philadelphia’s bike-share program. And most of its developers have incorporated some measure of parks and greenscape into their blueprints.

“Folks are doubling down on these locations,” Fenstermaker said. “We’re getting outside investors. … People see it.

“We’re in the center of it all. It makes sense.”

Complete details on the content of the recent City Ave District roundtable are at the Philadelphia Business Journal.


Aerial view of City Line Avenue, sporting a dusting of snow.

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