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August 07, 2023

New Willow Grove apartment building to add 260 units, restaurant near SEPTA station

The project, being built by Federal Realty Investment Trust, is the latest in the Philly suburbs to add housing near a train station

Development Apartments
Willow Grove Apartments Provided Image/Bernardon

Federal Realty Investment Trust plans to build a six-story, mixed-used building in Willow Grove with 260 apartments.

A six-story building planned in the Willow Grove section of Upper Moreland will mark the third phase of an ongoing push to add transit-oriented housing to the Montgomery County community.

The building, developed by Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust, will replace a parking lot at 122 Park Avenue, near SEPTA's Willow Grove train station and the Willow Grove Park Mall. The building is expected to have 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Federal Realty expects to begin construction in the fall of 2024.

In recent years, Federal Realty has been redeveloping the property it owns in the vicinity of the mall, including the Willow Grove Shopping Center. Phase one plans, revealed last year, called for an Amazon Fresh grocery store to go in the shopping center, but the developer has since filed a lawsuit against Amazon for allegedly breaching its lease and failing to open.

The second phase of the project is a single-story, 18,000-square-foot building along Park Avenue that will have space for restaurants and retail space. That project is expected to be finished this fall.

"This location screamed for intensified development, a wider mix of uses and walkable, pedestrian-friendly locations adjacent to the train station," Mark Brennan, Federal Realty's vice president of regional development, told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

SEPTA officials have been seeking to increase ridership in the Philadelphia area by encouraging transit-oriented development, including projects in Conshohocken and King of Prussia. The area around Ambler's train station also is viewed as a prime location for more mixed-use development. SEPTA was not involved in planning Federal Realty's latest project.

The Willow Grove station is on SEPTA's Warminster Line. Earlier this month, SEPTA officials said the Regional Rail system remains at about 50-55% of its pre-pandemic ridership levels. Building more homes within walking distance of train stations is considered a way to promote convenient use of public transportation. 

In Willow Grove, an apartment complex was built along York Road a few years ago by local developer J.G. Petrucci Co. Inc., adding 275 units just across from the train station.