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  • Writer's pictureMichael Hays

Let's Build for the Common Good at NSH

Next week offers several opportunities to advocate for more affordable housing, including two public meetings concerning the redevelopment of a portion of the Norristown State Hospital grounds. 

On Tuesday, March 12 at 6 p.m., Montgomery County’s Office of Housing & Community Development welcomes public input on its 2024 Action Plan on spending federal dollars. The meeting will take place in Pottstown (364 E. King Street, 2nd Floor). There is also a virtual participation option

Residents in the Norristown area will have the same opportunity on Thursday, March 14 at 6 p.m. This meeting will take place at One Montgomery Plaza (425 Swede Street, Montgomery Conference room), along with a virtual option. The action plan includes HAP (Homeless Assistance Program), CDBG (Community Development Block Grants), and more. 

One hour later that same night is a public meeting at Norristown Municipal Hall down the street from the courthouse. It is critical for advocates and citizens to call for the inclusion of amenities and construction that benefits all of us. After all, the Norristown State Hospital grounds were once owned by the taxpayers. Furthermore, the original recommendation for the grounds’ redevelopment was affordable housing for seniors. 

From the Commonwealth, For the Common Good 

According to a Norristown municipal news release, Philadelphia-based development group Pinnacle Realty Development Corp Properties will showcase a preliminary plan for almost 70 acres of land on the former state hospital grounds on March 14 at 7 p.m. and March 20 at 12 p.m. at Norristown Municipal Hall. Tony Maras, of PRDC, will present the plan to the public and gather community feedback. 

During a Norristown Council meeting on December 19, Maras outlined the recent history of the site dating back to 2016. A land development study funded by the Commonwealth called for the development of senior housing, which Council rejected because it was inconsistent with their desire for mixed use development, former Manager Crandall Jones said. 

The Times-Herald quoted Jones as saying: “And the council at that time flatly rejected that because … I would say rightly, so not because of the seniors, but it was not consistent with the vision that that council and this council had for the redevelopment of that site for mixed-use in Norristown,” Jones said.

Former Norristown Administrator Crandall Jones (right) prepares for a Council meeting in December next to Solicitor Sean Kilkenney.

The conveyance from the state to Norristown was finalized in 2022. The Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority conducted the RFP (request for proposals) process. MCRA received five bids, one of which reportedly was a minor league baseball stadium. 

At these public meetings, Maras and PRDC will give an overview of their vision for breaking ground in less than two years at the “Preserve at Stony Creek,” which is expected to include: 

  • 728 new housing units, including 280 apartments and rent-to-own townhomes 

  • 60,000 square feet of commercial space 

  • Clubhouse and pool 

  • Daycare facility 

  • Office and industrial complex 

“We are really excited for this opportunity. I encourage everyone —council, staff and the community, to give us your feedback,” Maras said in December. 

It’s your turn. From the Commonwealth should be for the Common Good. 

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