King of Prussia Today & Beyond!
By Eric Goldstein
At the International Downtown Association’s annual conference in Minneapolis, MN in late September, the energetic and passionate keynote speaker, US Bancorp President & CEO, Richard Davis recited the following Darwin quote:
“It is not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent species that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
The quote resonated with me as I reflected upon my own work as Executive Director of the King of Prussia District (KOP-BID). The quote so perfectly describes where King of Prussia is today and the challenges that lie before us.
The KOP-BID was formed in 2010 after a number of corporate leaders expressed frustration with the lack of job growth, decreasing investment in the corporate community and increasing vacancy rates in the commercial office sector. These concerned property owners worried that King of Prussia’s best days were, perhaps, behind us, and that the community, designed largely in the 1950’s, was struggling to compete in a world of growing suburban office sector challengers. They lamented about how other suburban locales had ramped up over the years and taken a large piece of King of Prussia’s corporate thunder. They were determined, however, to make sure King of Prussia remained competitive in the Region and asked the right questions: How can we put King of Prussia back on a course that will raise property values over time? How can we ensure that the King of Prussia of tomorrow was far better positioned, relative to its suburban counterparts, than it is today?
KOP-BID was formed to help develop solutions for those questions and meet those very difficult challenges. KOP-BID, together with Upper Merion Township officials and more than 280 stakeholders developed a five-point plan to improve King of Prussia’s competitiveness:
1) Create a Sense of Place: enhance the physical character of the business community through landscaping, signage and streetscaping improvements,
2) Broadcast the Incredible Assets of the Community: increase and improve marketing and communication activities,
3) Revise the Land Use Code to Improve Future Development: advocate for better land use and zoning codes that help maximize property values and ensure more efficient and more aesthetically pleasing future development,
4) Revise the Tax Code to Make KOP More Competitive: advocate for better tax policies that make King of Prussia more competitive and more attractive to businesses moving to or expanding in the community and
5) Improve Access to Public Transit and Reduce Congestion: improve multi-modal transportation opportunities by making better connections to Regional Rail, expanding the Norristown High Speed Line and continuing to promote the significant traffic improvements that have dramatically reduced traffic congestion in the Township over the past decade.
The King of Prussia corporate and municipal leaders who created KOP-BID fully understood that, to thrive in this world, the business and municipal leadership must be willing to adapt with the times. In just two short years since KOP-BID’s formation, we already see many of the positive benefits of a unified corporate and municipal strategy. King of Prussia is blessed with a strong community and we are, indeed, an intelligent community. But most of all, we are a community that now has a strategy that will help King of Prussia effectively adapt to change! And because of that, I happen to believe that King of Prussia’s best days are still ahead!
Eric is the Executive Director of KOP-BID and has more than 20 years of experience working with for-profit and not-for-profit companies in the New York and Philadelphia region. As a Licensed Landscape Architect in NJ, Registered Landscape Architect in PA and NJ Professional Planner, Eric enjoys reading and writing about planning issues in the region. Full bio.
Integrating public transit, commercial office, residential housing, and retail establishments could be the future of the King of Prussia Business Park. Rendering courtesy LRK, Inc.