Community Lending Program Success Story

Franklin Commons – An Uncommon Facility in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

About four years ago, David and Marian Moskowitz decided to purchase a 100-year old vacant and decaying
industrial building located in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and convert it into an educational, corporate and recreational
facility called Franklin Commons. The Moskowitzs, owners of Palma, L.P., the real estate management
company of Franklin Commons, learned during several months of research that their renovation project was
kind of “uncommon” – that is, no private developer in the United States
had ever transformed a brownfield site into an “educational mall.”
Franklin Commons, located 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia, is
home to:
• A day care, which accepts children as young as three months
• A pre-school;
• A K-12 charter school established nine years ago with approximately
1,000 students;
• A two-year college;
• And a four-year college and a graduate school offering both
master’s and doctorate degrees.
• According to David Moskowitz, “This is the only building we
know of in the United States where you can start at three
months old and stay in the same building throughout your
entire educational career, and end up with a doctor’s degree.”
FHLBank member Malvern Federal Savings Bank used a $3,000,000
Community Lending Program (CLP) loan from FHLBank Pittsburgh to
support the project. CLP is an $825 million revolving loan pool from
which FHLBank members can obtain long-term, lower-cost financing for development initiatives designed to
enhance the local economy.
“The $3 million CLP funding, and the balance of the funding provided by Malvern Federal Savings Bank, was
necessary for this project to happen…This entire project has been built with private financing, and, without this
financing, there would not have been a project,” said Moskowitz. He added, “The total redevelopment cost
will be in excess of $20,000,000. This includes improvements made by tenants to their space and the improvements
to be made by Renaissance Academy, which purchased 104,000 square feet of the building to build the
K-12 charter school.”
After one year of environmental remediation and renovation, tenants began moving in, restoring new life to
the former brownfield site that once housed a silk mill, carpet mill and, most recently, a plastics company that
made pump parts for wastewater treatment plants. It is a bright spot for the Phoenixville area – the old building
is restored to an eye-pleasing, useful facility that provides a gamut of educational offerings, business opportunities
and jobs for local residents.
Half of the tenants, who utilize 80 percent of the finished space, are educational or quasi-educational – Neumann
College, Lansdale School of Business, Phoenixville Area Children’s Learning Center, Phoenixville Area
Positive Alternatives, Facetime Performing Arts Center, Renaissance Academy, Stepping Stone Education Center
and Rock & Roll After School. The remaining tenants consist of small businesses – from caterers to a graphics
design firm, from a nutrition consultant to the leading educational security consultant in the United States.
In addition, the facility offers bistro dining and has a spacious banquet hall and conference room available for
rental. It is also the site of community events such as fundraisers, a holiday candlelight tour and a Friday night
concert series. Approximately ten percent of the building still requires renovation.
The icing on the cake for the Moskowitz’s Franklin Commons project was a first-place award for “Best Mixed
Use,” bestowed recently by the Philadelphia Business Journal, recognizing the top 2009 building sales, leases
and real estate developments in the Delaware Valley.
FHLBank Pittsburgh is proud to sponsor CLP projects such as Franklin Commons throughout Delaware,
Pennsylvania and West Virginia