Since its demise in the mid-70s, the long abandoned Keasbey and Mattison Boiler House had become an eyesore and decrepit icon of Ambler’s once prosperous industrial past. For decades the lone smokestack has dominated the Ambler skyline and the broken-out windows have looked out upon the remains of the dilapidated manufacturing facilities of the former K & M Company. In complete contrast with the revitalization plans of Ambler and the recently completed train station platform facilities, this neglected site posed an ideal opportunity for redevelopment.
In the early 2000s the Borough of Ambler established a Revitalization Committee to oversee preparation of a Redevelopment Area Plan for the rail corridor, which had been certified as “blighted” under Pennsylvania Urban Redevelopment Law. The Borough made it clear that it wanted to encourage development that complemented its preexisting Main Street Program, maintained the community’s historic structures, and addressed outstanding environmental contamination problems. The Rail Corridor Redevelopment Area Plan identified the former K & M site as a target for reuse.
In coordination with the preexisting revitalization plans, Ambler BH Development Partners, LP was formed for the sole purpose of redeveloping the rapidly deteriorating boiler house. The objective of this project was to reuse and preserve a historically significant building while incorporating innovative design features that represent smart growth initiatives and result in significant benefits to the community, both environmentally and economically.
With the successful applications of state and federal funding and the collaboration between committed community members and organizations, Ambler has risen beyond the stigma of its industrial past to earn recognition as a charming, quaint and welcoming Philadelphia suburb offering great food, shopping, and entertainment.