The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce wants to be a reliable source of information and updates on developments that affect our footprint. This page will serve as a resource to the public, offering up-to-date changes to the issues occuring in our beloved community of West Chester, PA.

Mosteller Corner Redevelopment

There is a proposed development for the northwest corner of Gay & Church, which were once part of the County offices that have since relocated.

The E. Kahn Development Corporation was given conditional use approval for a mixed-use commercial structure at this location. This is another step towards development of a structure with retail/restaurant on the first floor and offices on the upper floors. Plans for an alternative plaza development which include two 60-foot, mixed-use retail and office structures have not been submitted for consideration by Council and have neither been accepted nor rejected.

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Survey Results

DEVELOPER RESPONSE

Question 1: What is the status of “this” project?

Borough Council granted Application for Preliminary Land Development and Conditional Use Approval for a five (5) story, 75 foot, mixed-use building with approximately 14,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the first floor and 60,000 square feet of Class A office space. We are actively pursuing prospective lead tenants for the approved plan.

Question 2: How does this project enhance the economic vitality of the greater West Chester area?

Brings new life into the retail fabric of the town center, with the potential to increase the daytime population in Borough with 150 new office jobs.

Question 3: What are the challenges you are facing?

Challenging site conditions resulting in higher costs of construction.

BOROUGH RESPONSE

Question 1: What is the status of “this” project?

There are currently 2 approved land development plans for the former Mosteller, or Chester County Annex, property owned by D-Town Associates. The first approved plan, acted on by Borough Council in 2013, is for a 90 foot building with residential, commercial, and ground level retail components served by an underground parking facility. The second approved plan is for a 75ft building with a commercial and ground level retail component and also served by an underground parking facility. Borough Council approved this plan in June 2015. Both plans were submitted prior to a change in the Borough’s Zoning Ordinance, made by a previous council, that limited building height in the Town Center zoning district to 60 feet, and required full on-site parking.

In the fall of 2014, D-Town brought before Council an informal, third concept for developing the property, referred to as the “plaza plan.” The concept proposed a 60ft commercial building, with ground level retail, no on-site parking, and a classic hardscaped urban plaza presumably with some level of public access. In order for D-Town to implement the plaza plan, it needed substantive zoning ordinance relief, namely in respect to the requirement to provide parking for the project and to address updated stormwater management requirements. There was an ask by the developer in November 2014 to interpret a perceived legal “loophole” to allow the plaza plan development as a modification of a previously approved plan under the terms of expired ordinances. The request for this zoning relief as a modification of a previously approved plan was deemed an unacceptable interpretation of what constitutes a modification that would have had precedent setting consequences according to the Borough’s legal experts and counsel.

As of this response, the Borough of West Chester has not received a land development application for this concept nor any substantive necessary details (like public access), despite Council’s public invitation to D-Town to engage in further discussion about the plaza plan. Fortunately, there have been some recent discussions with D-Town Associates, in the past month initiated by the President of Council. The outcomes of those discussions are pending.

Question 2: How does this project enhance the economic vitality of the greater West Chester area?

“This project” can mean several different options, per the previous response. We’ll point out some economic vitality considerations.
1. The denser the area developed, the greater the supply of residents, retail, and/or business tenants, all three of which add to the Borough’s economic vitality and supply opportunities for existing businesses to grow and expand in support of those new residents and businesses.
2. A thoughtfully designed public space in the Borough’s Town Center may provide intangible positive economic effects for the Borough and area businesses if the space creates a more attractive and useful area as perceived by the people.
3. A Residential component allows for increasing the tax base for the municipality, county, and the school district. Residential also increases the supply of high income residents to patronize businesses in the community.
4. An empty, unoccupied building has very little to offer, except an out dated property tax assessment. Council is willing to continue to work with D-Town on development of the site in a manner that respects the goals and outcomes identified in its planning documents for the development the Town Center.

Question 3: What are the challenges you are facing?

As a municipality, the Borough faces tremendous challenges, which can be the subject of another survey. As to the Mosteller property, the borough has no concerns, that haven’t already been addressed, with the 2 already approved plans (90 ft with residential component & 75ft office). These plans can now be built, by right, if the developer chooses to at their discretion.

There are many challenges with allowing the “plaza plan” concept, as the concept doesn’t conform with current and substantive requirements of the zoning ordinances, and in which no formal application or relevant details have been provided by the developer. The borough has consistently expressed its desire to discuss the needs of both organizations, and to receiving details sufficient to understand the proposal, and even ultimately look to change ordinances that address those specific needs and interests. Any of those modifications must also be in the best interest of the whole town center and the community as a whole for any new development. The balance would have to take into consideration Building Height, Historic Preservation, Site Design, Parking, Walkability, Public Space (in the concept of the Plaza, what access the public would have and how that is memorialized), & Revenue Generation.