King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, a major suburban “edge city” outside of Philadelphia, is building a walkable town center. Until recently, King of Prussia included nothing but massive parking lots and car-oriented shopping centers—including the second largest mall in the US—office buildings, and wide, busy thoroughfares.
King of Prussia still has all of that, but this suburban retrofit brings human-scale placemaking to the heart of this census-designated place in Upper Merion Township.
King of Prussia Town Center is one of several mixed-use centers in the Philadelphia suburbs, and joins a national trend of similar developments in places like Tysons Corner, Virginia, and White Flint, Maryland.
The town center is seeing substantial residential and commercial construction. A central plaza is attracting a steady stream of visitors seven days a week. Here are highlights of the development:
• The town center has lots of outdoor dining.
• The architecture is eclectic and modern-looking—not traditional like many new town centers.
• The plaza has comfortable places to sit, programming such as live music and events, and a really fun fountain for the kids.
• About 1,250 housing units will surround the shops and restaurants when the project is complete. Once fully occupied, this housing could bump up Upper Merion Township’s population 10 to 15 percent.
• “Imagine if that was your bank, that was your favorite restaurant, that was where you lived,” said one recent visitor. “You’d never have to leave the community.”
• “The next 10 projects you become aware of will be mixed-use, walkable, compact places,” said Tom Comitta, president of Thomas Comitta Associates Inc., a town planning and landscape architecture firm in West Chester.