RIDLEY TOWNSHIP — The square block of MacDade Boulevard bounded by Forrest Avenue, Reese Street and Buchanan Avenue that was once home to the Jerry Hampton Furniture Store now boasts two brand new medical buildings ready for occupancy.
Just two years ago Wawa had its eye on the property for development as one of its convenience stores with gasoline service. But that proposal was met with opposition from the board of commissioners and even stronger opposition from nearby residents who viewed the project as one that would have a negative impact on their neighborhood. Wawa withdrew its application to build on the site in August 2017. The zoning application by Wawa was seeking 19 variances for the property zoned C-1 Neighborhood Commercial and B-Residential.
Wawa is currently developing a site at the corner of Chester Pike and Acres Drive that will make it the sixth store for the Middletown Township-based company operating in the township. The very first Wawa in the company's chain of convenience stores was on MacDade Boulevard at Swarthmore Avenue. That site has been redeveloped into a Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union branch.
Montgomery County developer Jay Several bought the Hampton property, partially demolished the furniture store, totally renovated the old structure and built a free standing building next to the original building. He has kept neighbors in the loop as the developement progressed.
"I want to make friends, not enemies," he explained.
A dental practice is the first tenant in the renovated building with a Crozer-Keystone Primary Care practice scheduled to occupy the rest of the building. The stand-alone building is awaiting tenants.
"I think the residents were happy with a medical building," said board of commissioners president Bob Willert. "This is much better for that site. It really dresses up MacDade Boulevard."
Willert praised the developer/owner, noting that Several was "great to work with."
"He addressed the complaints of the residents on the streets in the back and continues to address their concerns," Willert said.
Several is no stranger to the township's business community. He also developed the Ridley Township Plaza on MacDade Boulevard near the township administration building, where the Colonial Village market is located and where the legendary Charlie's Hamburgers' new home will soon open after moving from Academy Avenue, across from the Ridley Township Swim Club.
Several said he kept the original Hampton building, removing just a portion of the front of the old store built in the late 1940s, and gutting the interior.
"I don't like to trash good, solid buildings," he explained.
One of the changes Several made to the property was closing off access to and from the site from the boulevard, installing drive-ways from both Forrest and Buchanan streets instead.
"That is much safer," he explained.