Guest Commentator: Gerard Sweeney, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Trustee, Brandywine Realty Trust @BrandywineRlty

How will the expansion of SEPTA’s Norristown High Speed Line to the King of Prussia business district sustain the area’s continued growth?

The Greater Philadelphia region has experienced transformative growth over the past decade. Strategic public-private initiatives led by influential leaders have resulted in large-scale corporate expansions and relocations, improvements in talent attraction and retention, and substantial investments to enhance the public realm. To propel Philadelphia and its submarkets toward becoming a world class metropolitan area, investment in expanded and improved transportation infrastructure is imperative.

King of Prussia is a model town for metropolitan suburban hubs. As the third largest employment center in our region and the largest suburban commercial market, King of Prussia is home to more than 4,000 companies and over 60,000 employees. The only element that’s missing is efficient transportation connecting it to Philadelphia.

SEPTA’s proposed 4.5-mile King of Prussia Rail extension of the Norristown High Speed Line will create five additional stops and reduce travel time between Center City and King of Prussia by 30 minutes in each direction, accommodating the 2-in-5 Philadelphians who travel to the city’s submarkets for work each day. With King of Prussia’s employment rates and commercial office industry poised for continued growth, investments in the King of Prussia Rail project are necessary for our region to remain competitive.

The CEO Council’s Regional Transportation Strategy outlines a vision to improve access to transit, promoting economic vitality, employment options and overall employee productivity and wellbeing. For every $1 invested in public transportation, $4 is raised in economic benefits.  Historically, new transit centers attract new development, fueling business agglomerations and the construction of mixed-use town centers that create a range of lifestyle offerings. By reducing commute times and creating a catalyst for integrated development that unite live, work, and play, employees are exposed to positive stimuli throughout the day leading to a happier, more efficient workforce.

A focus of our commercial portfolio across markets is creating transit-oriented developments because we recognize the high-value employers place on having multi-modal transportation options for employees, while also creating greater access to an expanded talent pool from which to recruit. SEPTA’s King of Prussia Rail opens the submarket up to new talent east and west of the PA Turnpike and a renewed enthusiasm for city residents.

King of Prussia’s attractiveness is clear: walkability within the business district, a variety of dining options, the best retail in the country, and ample outdoor space. The deterrent is that it is still auto-dominated. King of Prussia will be overlooked when companies from outside of this region look for a strong submarket to establish their operations. Expanding transit with the rail extension will bridge this divide and reinforce interconnectivity throughout the region creating a competitive advantage that will elevate Greater Philadelphia among national and international audiences.

Gerard Sweeney is a member of the Chamber’s CEO Council for Growth (CEO Council), a devoted group of business, higher education, and civic leaders who commit their time and efforts to enhance economic growth and prosperity in the 11-county region influencing regional and national policy through advocacy.

This blog post is one in a series of submissions bringing exposure to project areas listed in the CEO Council’s Connecting the Region: A Transportation Strategy for Greater Philadelphia.