Why is Villanova University undertaking this project?
Villanova is transforming the parking lots along Lancaster Avenue into space that will feature upper-class residence halls, a Performing Arts Center, a parking garage, University-operated retail and a pedestrian bridge at Church Walk. The addition of these residence halls will allow Villanova to provide housing for 85% of its undergraduate student body. This project will make Villanova more competitive as an institution, increase student and parent satisfaction, improve relations with the surrounding community and greatly improve the attractiveness of the visual landscape along Lancaster Avenue.
Right now the land is blacktop and being used for parking. How will changing the surface impact the environment?
Prior to construction, the project site represented approximately 14 acres of impervious asphalt with no stormwater controls. The project will reduce the amount of impervious surface and introduce innovative stormwater management practices that exceed Radnor Township requirements. These measures have been developed in consultation with neighbors, Township officials, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and faculty stormwater experts from the College of Engineering’s department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
With increased housing being a focal point of the project, does it signal a desire for Villanova to expand its undergraduate student enrollment?
No. Villanova is undertaking this project to help address demand among current and prospective students for on-campus housing, and enhance its living and learning environment. This project will not lead to an increase in undergraduate student enrollment, just as similar student housing projects in the past (South Campus and West Campus) did not lead to enrollment increases.
How will the Performing Arts Center be used?
The Performing Arts Center will bring together Villanova’s artistic community under one roof, supporting the studio arts and music activities programs in addition to Villanova Theatre. The facility will feature two performance spaces – a 400 seat proscenium style theatre and a 200 seat black box theatre. It will also include classroom and rehearsal space, dance and art studios, a scenery shop and offices.
Will the construction of the parking garage result in an increase to the current number of parking spots on campus?
This project will have a neutral effect on the number of campus parking spots. The same number of parking spots that currently exist in the Main parking lots will be redistributed through the building of an approximately 1,300 car parking garage in East Main Lot behind the performing arts center, the creation of new surface parking behind Moriarty, Griffin and Geraghty Halls on Lancaster Avenue, and the addition of two levels to the existing St. Augustine Center parking garage.
How will the project benefit the community and the neighbors?
There are several ways in which this project will have a positive impact upon the local community:
- It will reduce student presence in residential neighborhoods.
- The pedestrian bridge and planned traffic enhancements will improve vehicle flow and pedestrian safety along Lancaster Avenue.
- It will greatly improve stormwater management on and around campus.
- It will create an aesthetically pleasing gateway along Lancaster Avenue.
How much will the project cost and how will Villanova pay for it?
The project budget, exclusive of the Performing Arts Center, is $225 million. Funds will come from a combination of University investment, borrowing, and public and private contributions. The budget is still being finalized for the Performing Arts Center, which will be funded entirely by donor contributions.
What financial impact will this project have on Radnor Township?
This project will have a positive financial impact upon Radnor Township, including generating $3-5 million of permit fees and gross receipt taxes for the Township during the construction period. Villanova also is contributing $175,000 to Radnor Township toward the cost of installing traffic adaptive systems at six intersections along Lancaster Avenue. In addition, the University is contributing $174,000 to comply with an ordinance that is designed to offset development by enhancing and maintaining Township parks and recreation resources.
How have the neighbors and the community been engaged throughout the planning process?
Villanova University has worked diligently to engage the community throughout the project planning and Township approval process. Since December 2011, the project has been discussed at more than 50 public meetings, including neighbors meetings and meetings of the Radnor Township Shade Tree Commission, Design Review Board, Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners, and the Delaware County Planning Commission. In addition, a project Communication and Review (CARe) Committee, comprised of representatives from the Township, University and residents, has met monthly since February 2016 to discuss construction progress, concerns and upcoming work. These meetings are held in the Radnor Township Building and are open to the public.
Will the retail component of the project provide competition to local businesses?
The residence halls will include a limited amount of student-focused, University-owned and operated retail that will include a Villanova apparel shop, a convenience store and a bistro. The retail components are designed to support the Villanova University community and not compete with local businesses.
How will this project affect traffic flow?
Because the project is designed to bring students who currently live off campus back onto campus, traffic to and from campus will be reduced. In addition, the project includes improvements along Lancaster Avenue that will benefit traffic flow, including the addition of turn lanes, the coordination of traffic signals, the elimination of driveways and the construction of a pedestrian bridge.
Is Church Walk the best location for a pedestrian bridge?
Yes. A bridge at Church Walk represents the best, most efficient location for a pedestrian crossing along Lancaster Avenue. The topography of that site allows for the bridge to come in at-grade at the church while connecting on the other side to the existing bridge over the tracks of SEPTA’s Norristown High Speed Line. This location will be an attractive way to cross Lancaster Avenue for:
- Students living on South Campus and the new residence halls being built on the main lots.
- Those parking in the new surface parking further west on Lancaster Avenue.
- Visitors to campus and St. Thomas of Villanova Church parishioners using the lot across from the Church.
How did Villanova select the architects?
Villanova felt strongly that this project warranted distinguished architects with experience in the region and in the higher education sector. The University opted for a partnership between two premier firms, New York-based Robert A. M. Stern Architects, LLP and Philadelphia-based Voith & Mactavish Architects, LLP, both of which have extensive experience with the collegiate-gothic style of architecture that is prominently featured on campus.
Does Villanova plan to change the frequency and/or size of events it hosts?
Villanova does not plan to change the size, number or frequency of the events it hosts. However, the University understands that peak events impact both traffic patterns and the number of cars on campus. Villanova University is working closely with the Radnor Township Police Department to develop a plan to better manage the flow of traffic on and around campus during events.