SEPTA studying redeveloping its parking lots at train stations with mixed-use developments

SEPTA’s struggle to increase ridership back to pre-pandemic levels has it considering the redevelopment of its parking lots next to train stations according to a July 10th article in The Philadelphia Business Journal. SEPTA owns the parking lot adjacent to the station in Ambler, which is mentioned in the article.

From the article:

While SEPTA hasn’t yet overseen development on its properties, it hopes to model programs by Pittsburgh Regional Transit and NJ Transit. In North Jersey’s Somerville, for example, NJ Transit facilitated the development of hundreds of apartments adjacent to a train station.

Judge pointed to Ambler where a mix of uses near the train station, like job centers, restaurants and recreational centers, have helped maintain ridership better than other stations without those nearby destinations.

This past winter, BET Investments Inc., known for mixed-use developments in the Philadelphia suburbs, bought the parking lot and an office building next to the Ambler train station. BET Investments plans to keep the property as is, for now, but said it could one day develop the site.

Ambler’s Borough Council recently amended its zoning code for the area around the train station to make it easier to redevelop properties into apartments (as a conditional use). Before the amendment, transit-oriented development was limited to properties fronting the railroad tracks. Now it is possible to redevelop any property within 800 feet of the train station platform under the transit-oriented regulations.

As has reported, there are already plans for more apartments in Ambler. Summit Realty Advisors has a conditional-use application before the Borough of Ambler for the property at 9 North Maple Street for a 92-unit apartment building. Summit was the driving force behind the recent transit-oriented development zoning changes.

Summit has also acquired a property next to The Crossings, a 114-unit apartment community near the train station it opened in 2022. It is planning The Crossing II, which would be of similar size.

The SEPTA parking lot is circled in white. The BET-owned parking lot is circled in red.

Photo: Google