The results are in, and the mandate for any potential developer of the former NVF site is clear. The community is united in urging Borough officials to ensure that the redevelopment of this 22-acre tract of land between Mulberry Street and the railroad tracks includes attractive housing, significant attainable housing options, and more commercial and green space.
In presenting high-level takeaways from the survey to Borough Council this month, Kennett Collaborative Executive Director Bo Wright emphasized the common desire for beautiful, inclusive, walkable, and human-scale neighborhoods where people can afford to live, build community, and access services. He also highlighted critical housing inequities underscored by the survey results.
If this consensus around the need for attainable housing and a desire for more commercial and green and recreational spaces sounds familiar, it may be because it is. In the process of preparing his presentation for Borough Council, Wright consulted the recommendations from previous committees and studies done on the redevelopment of the site over the past decade. “These survey results are completely in line with the significant work that has already gone into planning for this redevelopment,” Wright says.
In 2013, a committee comprised of residents and Borough Council and staff representatives recommended: the creation of design standards and updated zoning to allow for a TND (traditional neighborhood development) continuing the existing street grid pattern; a diversity of housing incorporating green spaces and street trees; and allowing for corner stores and neighborhood-serving retail in addition to a commercial buffer zone along the train tracks.
In 2016, The Kennett Area Economic Development Study, completed by RBA and 4Ward Planning, made exactly the same recommendations for the former NVF parcel. This study proposed a concept for this new Kennett neighborhood on the NVF site in the context of detailed analysis of area demographics and included more specifics on housing types (e.g., single-family units, duplexes, stacked townhouses, senior housing), land use, and next steps for zoning.
In 2018–2020, an NVF Redevelopment TND Overlay was created with a Key Design Elements Checklist in addition to professionally developed design guidelines. These comprehensive design guidelines include plans for connectivity with street grids and alleys, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, parking guidelines, properly located and scaled commercial space, housing choices and a mix of building types with compatible architecture, and attractive public spaces and public gathering areas. This resource is readily available and lays a strong foundation for a redevelopment process that is in line with what the community wants to see.
Following are some key high-level takeaways from Kennett Collaborative’s community survey on the development of the former NVF site:
- Total responses: 815 (419 Borough residents)
- Total English Survey: 724 (350 Borough residents)
- Total Spanish Survey: 91 (69 Borough residents)
- Total respondents who work in Kennett: 297
- Age range of survey participants: 17–88 (average age 50.5 years)
- Average number of people per household: 3.2 (NB: There are a lot of single-individual households and a lot of households with 5 or 6+ individuals.).
What maximum price for a home would be affordable for you?
- Within a range of $150,000 to $600,000+, about 60% of English survey respondents put this figure between $350,000 and $500,000.
- Nearly 40% of Spanish-speaking respondents indicated that $150,000 is the maximum affordable price for a home.
- Similarly, maximum affordable monthly rent for about 60% of English-speaking respondents was between $1,250 and $2,000, and between $600 and $1,000 for Spanish-speaking respondents.
Land Use and Design
Overwhelmingly, respondents want to see:
- A diversity of housing options at different price points.
- A mixed-use community with commercial spaces that encourage walkability.
- Green space as part of the design.
Types of housing respondents want to see:
- Pocket neighborhoods (53%)
- Live/work units (49%)
- Single-family detached homes, low density (35%)
- Single-family detached homes, high density (23%)
- Duplexes (19%)
- Rowhouses (single or multi-family) (15%)
- Apartment buildings (8%).
For residential homes, 71% prefer garages on rear alleyways over front-loading parking garages.
What’s missing in Kennett Square that survey respondents would like to see at the NVF site?
- Affordably priced housing
- Small neighborhood parks
- Arts/culture options
- Grocery store
- Housing priced for middle-income households
- More restaurants
- Well-paid employment opportunities
- Rec center, skate park, activities for youth.
Residents are in agreement, design guidelines have been created, and it’s now incumbent upon the Borough of Kennett Square to ensure that the redevelopment of this important site reflects the community’s overwhelming mandate for beautiful, walkable neighborhoods that are accessible and inclusive for all.
Click here to learn more about the history of the former NVF site.