Supervisors polarized over PREIT

posted Thu, Jan 26, 2012

By Nancy Johnson

Chester County Press

Once again, on Monday night as the New Garden Board of Supervisors discussed requests by PREIT concerning their shopping center complex, there were two schools of thought on the subject.

PREIT is requesting clarification on several issues in the settlement plan, which township solicitor Neil Land summarized as 1) moderate modifications to the building footprints; 2) Ability to reallocate space (square footage) between buildings; and 3) Minor changes to the facades of the buildings.

After last month’s extensive discussion by the board on the subject, the supervisors had asked Land to put together a draft of an agreement that would allow the first and third of these requests, but would not agree to the second request, the one regarding the ability to vary the square footage among the buildings.

The concern among board members was that if PREIT was granted the ability to move the total square footage space among the buildings, they could take wind up with an even smaller town center area while the large power center would be even bigger.

“I think it’s a good response,” supervisor Warren Reynolds said of Land’s agreement. “But again, it’s all about what PREIT would like and what we’re going to give them. I think there should be something for New Garden in there, so therefore, I am not going to vote for it.”

Supervisor Betty Gordon also voiced her disapproval of granting PREIT’s requests. “I’m still uncomfortable with this plan. I don’t know what we’re giving away,” she insisted.

Gordon said she was concerned that PREIT had no tenants committed as of yet. “Is it the economy as they say or is it because businesses don’t feel it is the right location for them? What if it is sold?” she questioned. “I’m very uncomfortable with the whole thing. We are giving away some of our power and I don’t see what New Garden gets out of it but the money that they already owe us.”

In the end, the supervisors voted 3 to 2 to in favor of presenting Land’s agreement to PREIT, with Reynolds and Gordon casting the dissenting votes.

The supervisors also heard from Land regarding another topic that is a regular on the New Garden Township agenda, Candlewyck. The solicitor had prepared for the Board’s approval, release and hold harmless agreements for Travellers and Liberty Mutual Insurance companies that would finalize the transactions to release three bonds totaling $451,820. The monies will be used to complete a number of punchlist items left unfinished at the development by now bankrupt Orleans.

“It’s been a long haul to get there,” Land said with a hint of a smile. “We’re not done the project yet, but the release of funds will get it going. These folks have waited a long time.”

Township manager Dan Fox suggested that the Homeowners Association create a priority list of the work remaining at Candlewyck. “$451,000 may not cover it all,” he noted.

Land agreed that the punchlist should be prioritized from the most to least important items.

President of the Candlewyck Homeowner’s Association John Wiedmann asked, “What additional accountability is the Township going to take on?” He noted that while there may have been different members, the Board of Supervisors did return escrow money to Orleans.

The Nunan Group’s patience paid off as the supervisors unanimously granted approval for their land development project at 1120 Newark Rd. that has been in discussion for several years. The project will include constructing a 9,000 square foot commercial building on the site to be used primarily to store materials and equipment for ServPro. A small portion of the building will be used for training rooms.

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For more information, please visit the Friends of New Garden website.

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