Economic Vitality: Developing the Exton Crossroads

Development by Design LogoThe Crossroads of Routes 30 and 100 has long defined West Whiteland Township, shaping the way the Township has planned for development. The Township's planning strategy, Development by Design, calls for a thriving commercial center around the Crossroads with a mixture of uses, including apartments and retail.

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Our planning process supports the guidance of the Chester County Planning Commission, which has identified the Exton Crossroads as an important suburban center for the entire county, where growth should be directed.

Planning ahead to promote Exton as a thriving commercial center makes the Township a better place for all of our residents. As Exton thrives, we are able to keep taxes low, preserve our existing neighborhoods, provide quality services, make significant road improvements and maintain the conveniences that our residents enjoy.

Leveraging Our Assets

In the third quarter of 2020, the Township engaged the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to identify strategies for managing growth and creating a sense of community at Exton Crossroads while leveraging the area’s existing assets. ULI Philadelphia organized a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) comprised of local and regional professionals, stakeholders and other interested parties. 

The ULI TAP Exton Crossroads report includes both short-term and long-term recommendations which build upon our community’s existing assets and planning efforts: 

  • safe and enhanced pedestrian and bicycle access and connectors 
  • using open space and historic buildings to create a unique identity 
  • coordination among property owners to enhance a mix of uses  

Why So Many Apartments?

There has been a growing demand nationwide for a new type of housing option - luxury apartments that provide convenience living. Our two largest population groups - Baby Boomers and Millenials - are seeking apartments that allow them to walk to stores, restaurants and trails. These residential option ultimately support and sustain the businesses of the Exton Crossroads.

For more information, see our apartment FAQs.

What specifically have we done to plan?

The Township first recognized the Exton Crossroads as a commercial center in our first comprehensive plan in 1962. View our Planning History timeline to see how we have developed in accordance with that initial plan, including creating numerous other plans for traffic improvements, open space and historical property restoration and modernizing our zoning district regulations.

Focusing Growth on the Exton Crossroads

The commercial district around the Exton Crossroads has been the largest shopping district in Chester County for decades. However, as the economy recovered from the Great Recession (2007-2009), the commercial district was facing challenges with brick and mortar retail going through seismic changes.   

Township officials realized that an improving economy in a low interest rate environment was going to renew development pressure in Chester County. It made sense for some of that development to be built around Exton Crossroads to add vitality to the commercial district. 

If, instead, all of that development happened around, but not in, West Whiteland, the likelihood of decline around Exton Crossroads would increase as investment went elsewhere and shopping centers aged. The effects of such decline could have made Exton a less desirable area to live and work and impacted property values throughout the Township.

To avoid that decline and plan proactively for growth, West Whiteland Township’s plans and ordinances direct mixed-use residential and commercial development, along with corresponding transportation improvements, to the commercial corridors around Exton Crossroads, with the long-term goal of making it a more vibrant and walkable area, while keeping our existing neighborhoods the way they are. This is the heart of the Development by Design philosophy.

 "Development by Design: Managing Development With Land Use and Transportation Planning". (PDF)

How will we take advantage of this growth?
The mix of residential and commercial properties is key. Apartments around the Crossroads mean there will be more people around the Crossroads, patronizing stores and restaurants, potentially luring more employers. As the Township’s Bike and Pedestrian Circulation Plan gets built out, more of these new residents will walk and bike to nearby destinations. Just as adding residential components into downtowns helped revitalize urban areas like West Chester and Phoenixville, our new residents will add economic vitality to the suburban center of Exton Crossroads

What about our schools?
The new apartments are not going to be an “affordable living” option. New construction means high rent for complexes loaded with amenities. As a result, the West Chester Area School District will see increased real estate taxes and earned income taxes but not many new students from the apartments being built near Exton Mall, Main Street, Festival Shopping Center and Kohl’s.