It doesn't have the thrilling punch of a soap opera, but the drama over rejuvenating Ardmore around the train station certainly has the drawn-out pace of one.
In the hope of speeding up at least part of the nearly decadelong project, the Lower Merion Township Economic Revitalization Committee on Wednesday renewed an agreement with Dranoff Properties to build - eventually - housing, stores, and parking space on what is now the municipal parking lot off Cricket Avenue.
The Philadelphia firm will no longer be involved with the transit center project.
The full commission will act on the development agreement Wednesday.
"It's been a long time in coming," said Township Commissioner Cheryl Gelber, who heads the Economic Revitalization Committee.
Carl Dranoff presented the committee with a revised proposal for the lot in response to community concerns that the earlier design wouldn't fit with the neighborhood, especially houses on West Athens Avenue.
In the new design, Dranoff included a 15-foot landscaped buffer that would run along the property line of houses on Athens. He proposed reducing the number of apartments from 143 to 121, and dropping the height of the building along Cricket from six stories (five residential floors and one retail floor) to four (three residential and one retail).
Dranoff also changed some aspects of the design to create more modern lines. The amount of parking in his final plan will depend on whether the township can find money to build a parking garage at the train station.
Dranoff could not be reached for comment.
The train station and Dranoff's plans have been evolving since 2003, when the township formulated the Ardmore Transit Master Plan. Its goal was to "revitalize all of the Ardmore business district with mixed uses and to promote transit-oriented development," said Angela Murray, Lower Merion assistant director of building and planning.
Some of the transit center improvements, such as making the train station wheelchair-accessible, must be done to meet federal law. The original master plan also included apartments along with a parking garage.
As the economy stumbled, ambitions were scaled back.
Now, there will be no housing by the train station, Murray said, and township officials hope a parking garage still can be built, though perhaps later. Details of the plans also need to be worked out with SEPTA, Amtrak, and the state.
The drama will continue for a while. Some of the station improvements might begin next year, but Dranoff's plan still has to move through more design phases and the rest of the township planning process. Ground likely won't be broken until 2014, Gelber said.