Newtown Twp. Officials Have Concerns With Proposed Five-Story Luxury Apartment Building

A proposed five-story, 75,338 square-foot luxury apartment building has generated some concerns among Newtown Township officials.

The plans for the complex.
Credit: Chris English/

A proposed five-story, 75,338 square-foot luxury apartment building has generated some concerns among Newtown Township officials.

The developer KRE Group has filed a sketch plan and related documents with the township outlining the proposal for a vacant 17-acre parcel at 42 University Drive, just off Lower Silver Lake Road, next to the Silver Lake Executive Campus and very a few hundred feet from the border with Middletown Township.

The sketch plan and other documents were filed Oct. 31 of last year and an initial review by the Newtown Township Planning Commission on Dec. 20 listed several issues. The next step is likely up to the developer, township Manager Micah Lewis wrote in an email on Friday.

A sketch of the plans.

“As I understand it, they were going to return to the planning commission once they had additional information that was requested of them,” he stated.

According to a written synopsis of the planning commission’s review contained in the file, the property had been previously approved for a 200,000 square-foot office building but that the jointure does not permit the proposed residential use in any of its zoning districts. The jointure is a multi-municipal body composed of officials from Newtown, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown townships that governs zoning in the three municipalities.

Ed Murphy, the local attorney representing KRE Group in the matter, indicated that the plan would require a zoning amendment, the synopsis added. The developer prefers that option rather than seeking seven zoning variances, including a use variance, that would be needed for the project to be constructed in the office research zoning district where the property is located.

A rendering of the development from Silver Lake Road.

The luxury rental apartment facility would have 225 dwelling units, 232 garage parking spaces, 244 surface parking spaces and other outdoor amenities, documents in the file stated. 

“The commission members had many concerns about the size and intensity of the project and had many questions about traffic, economic impact and preservation of wetlands and woodlands,” the planning commission’s written synopsis read. “We discussed the impact of such a large building on the (Council Rock) school district.

“As this was a very preliminary presentation, the applicants plan to take the commission’s comments and attempt to address them, providing some additional information on traffic studies and demographics of prospective tenants.”

The document added: “We were generally hesitant to support such a complete change in existing zoning. However, we are willing to continue to work with the applicant and learn more about their plans and their successes in other municipalities.”

If the developer is successful in getting an amendment or other zoning relief, it would also need land development approval from the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors for the project to be built.

The sign for University Drive with the property in the background.
Credit: Chris English/

About the author

Chris English

I’m a 1981 Temple University graduate and Bucks County resident with 40 years experience reporting and writing on sports, education, government, community and social issues on the county, regional and state level. I love reading, sports, music and movies and walking around local parks.