dressing up lancaster ave in paoli 

On the corner of South Valley and Lancaster Ave. have always sat these really cool 1920s store fronts. But for years they were kind of run down with apartments above.  When they were sold, people were naturally nervous because well, more tend to tear things down these days. They don’t often choose adaptive reuse.

But my friend from my living in Lower Merion Township days, Lauren Wylonis, had a vision and here we are: an absolutely stunning restoration and adaptive reuse…and an absolutely gorgeous retail store.

Kings Haven Design, another arm of her Kings Haven brand, which includes things like Kings Haven Properties as well.

The store is full of super beautiful and unusual things, a carefully curated collection.  This is a store that individuals just seeking that something special for their home and design professionals. As a matter of fact, you can read all about Kings Haven in the latest edition of my other friend Caroline O’Halloran’s Savvy Main Line!

What Lauren and her team have accomplished is extraordinary, and her taste is marvelous.

Lauren and I both made the move to Chester County from Lower Merion a few years ago at around the same time.  

“We have always shared a love of the cool old architecture of the Main Line and beyond, and Lauren parlayed that love plus her amazing taste and talent for finding the coolest pieces into the Kings Haven brands!

Check out her store! Adaptive reuse can be really really awesome!  I promise you will love, love, love the store!

Opens to the public December 10!

still coming soon in west chester?

coming-soon

I love the Farmers & Mechanics Building and was super excited that Myles Development was thinking outside the box and creating a boutique hotel.  As a matter of fact I had offered Tom Myles free photography of his site as it was being rehabilitated for a “brag book” I was so excited. But I never heard a thing after I offered that in February, 2016.  And that’s fine, I am busy enough as it is.

But… who has heard anything about how the rehab/adaptive reuse is going? Has anyone seen the work so far? (I am still really interested in the rooftop garden and how that will turn out!)

I went searching for news and found the above on a small hotel site called Marshall Hotels & Resorts.

I saw an update that they are pre-leasing office space – that was on the Myles Development site and screen shot below.

But that is it – can’t find additional media coverage or anything.  I am rooting for this project, so if anyone has any updates, please post a comment!

myles

….meanwhile back in westtown 

Residents and concerned citizens turned out tonight to the Westtown Planning Commission at Stetson Middle School. Toll Brothers even got a Revolutionary War Soldier. Photo courtesy of nice people from SCOWT


Dear Toll Brothers,  methinks this is only the beginning….Great job residents and others, great job! 

Dear Robinson Family, it is never too late to do the right thing.  Please consider that….unless you really don’t care about the legacy of Crebilly?

thoughts on the future of development and chester county

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Random thought I had today…

There are so many people upset by pending development on properties including but not limited to Earles Lake (Newtown Twp Delaware County)  Crebilly (Westtown Township, Chester County), Woodlawn (Concord Twp Delaware County), and Don Guanella (Marple Twp. Delaware County). I applaud those amazing residents fighting the good fight in their respective communities!

But ask anyone in land protection about just how hard it is to turn things around once land is under agreement of sale with a developer. There is very little the township or land trust or individuals, or groups, or anyone can do at that point.

But…. if residents could take some of that good energy and fight to protect vulnerable parcels that are NOT yet under agreement of sale, then they might just make some progress and have a chance to save community open space, arable farmland, and viewsheds.

And as you ponder, please think outside the box when investigating property that’s vulnerable.

For example I am told, and many people are shocked to learn, that places like Tyler Arboretum (650 acres) and Newlin Grist Mill are not actually completely protected land and all or pieces of those properties could be sold if their boards decided they wanted to. (Or if they were desperate for money.)

This is often the challenge for public gardens and arboreta…An example would be a conservation easement  that was put on on the Schuylkill Center a few years ago, and if memory serves it took forever to negotiate but that board was concerned with their own history of selling off chunks of the property over the years when times were lean.

What got me to thinking about this is the upcoming Crebilly Planning Commission Meeting where Toll is presenting. Westtown Township Planning Commission that has been scheduled this first  public meeting with Toll Brothers is reportedly Wednesday, November 16th at 6:30 PM and will be held at Stetson Middle School. (It is not on the Westtown website yet so I do not know if it is set in stone or not.)

I received the following from concerned Chester County resident Mindy Rhodes the following:

It is imperative that the community attend this meeting. It is imperative that you speak at this meeting. Your testimonies need to be on record. It doesn’t matter what township you are from- please show up!

In this meeting, Toll will present their plans and there will be much time for public comments. I have not seen the plans, but my understanding is this:

Toll has submitted 3 different plans:


1) Code Compliant Plan (approx. 320 units)
2) Single Waiver Plan (approx. 320 units) *Toll is requesting a waiver for the standard 60′ requirement in between buildings to 30′ instead
3) Maximum Bonus Density (approx. 400 units) *Toll will need to make their case to the Township to justify this by means of ‘improvements’


Other details:
*Development will be closer to the center of Crebilly leaving ‘open space’ around the exterior
*1 access will be on 202 south of Westminster Church
*2 access roads on West Pleasant Grove Road to align with Dunvegan and Hidden Pond Way
*1 access on 926 near Bridalwood
*No plans to access South New Street

 

This is how far we are.  And Westtown will be limited on what they can do.  Why? Because at the end of the day, municipalities are indeed limited by the Commonwealth’s bible that defines planning and zoning – The MPC or Municipalities Planning Code of Pennsylvania.

I have been saying it for years: quite simply put the MPC needs an overhaul. We need to re-define suburbs and exurbs. We need to better define and set up protections for historic preservation and land preservation, and so much more. We need to stop the death march of development across Chester County and Pennsylvania.

People have been contacting state and federally elected officials about plans like what we are about to see formerly unfold for Crebilly. Those officials like to say “we are so sorry, we can’t get involved in local issues.”

The hell they can’t.  Maybe they can’t change zoning, but they sure as hell can use their political stature to bring opposing sides to the table to perhaps explore other ideas.  That is part of why we elect them.  And when it comes to State Representatives and State Senators, if they can’t adopt our issues as theirs, time to vote for someone else AND they are the ones who can get the Municipalities Planning Code overhauled and updated…it’s in their job description!

We have a major election day coming up one week from today.  Reach out to candidates and ask them what they have done for us lately.  Like with issues over DEVELOPMENT (or pipelines through Chester County). They all can’t be about campaign donations.

We also need to get out message out CLEARLY to the Chester County Planning Commission.  To me it would also help if the person who headed it up actually LIVED in Chester County. A pro-development leader from Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County is not appropriate because HE DOESN’T LIVE HERE. Landscapes3 needs to actually reflect US not what someone else thinks is us.

Also to be considered is better knowing our history.  I learned something new about Crebilly the other day:

historical

Look, we have to do better.  We have to figure it out together. After all, Chester County deserves better.

Thanks for stopping by.

loch aerie sold again

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Ok it is no secret how much I love Loch Aerie.  I last wrote about her April 21, 2016 when I thought she had sold.

I had wondered what was going on because no one had heard anything.  I saw lights on a few times at night over the summer and the lawn was getting cut.

I had found there two deed related documents on Chester County’s website (see highmount-1 and  highmount-2 ) but that was it.

Well guess what?

As per Vista Today Loch Aerie has sold again.  Apparently they are reporting that the deal fell through and their real estate agent from Berkshire Hathaway Mike Diggin submitted an offer on behalf of Steven and Dana Poirier of Downingtown and it was accepted.

I was able to confirm Vista’s story via, what else? Social Media!

loch-aerie-sold-again

Yay!

Why yay? I do not know these people but they want to rehab it and have a wedding venue and maybe it sounds like the husband’s office as well.

I remember them from auction day, they were across the room from me.

new-people

Anyway, that is all the news fit to print on 700 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern, PA.

Tip of the hat to Vista for getting the scoop. I enjoyed my brief stint writing for them, I just couldn’t do it for free so  that writing experience was unfortunately short lived.

I see this as positive news for Loch Aerie.  I look forward to their opening day.

UPDATE: Here is what I was told about Loch Aerie and recent change of ownership:

“The high bidder did close and buy the property. It did not fall through.

He then sold it to the 3rd place bidder from the auction.”

Selfishly I hope the consider Frens & Frens out of West Chester for an architecture firm – they are the ones who restored Beechwood House in Bryn Mawr.  I was on the Committee to Save Beechwood years ago – it is how I fell in love with Addison Hutton houses.

I will close with a  video done on Beechwood for the restoration so people can se a modern adaptive reuse of an old mansion/home can work!

the announcement: natural lands trust regarding saving bryn coed

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

Now that it has been announced, I can say that I have known for a few years that Natural Lands Trust was working on saving Bryn Coed.  I was asked to not say anything, so into the proverbial vault it went.  But I can’t say it is untrue that developers were sniffing around Bryn Coed’s 1500+ acres can I ?  After all, it is a magical piece of land that is almost mythical, isn’t it?

Here is the official press release:

One Step Closer to Preservation of Bryn Coed Farms

Media, Pa. – Natural Lands Trust announced today a major milestone in the non-profit land conservation organization’s effort to preserve 1,505 acres in northern Chester County known as Bryn Coed Farms.

 

On September 28, 2016, Natural Lands Trust and the current property owners, the Dietrich family, executed an Agreement of Sale for the property. Natural Lands Trust now has six months to conduct due diligence, including Phase II environmental testing.

 

The fate of the property has been the subject of much speculation over the years as development pressures have increased in the region. Located primarily in West Vincent Township, Chester County, with portions also in East and West Pikeland Townships, the property is one of the largest remaining undeveloped, unprotected tracts of land in the Greater Philadelphia region. Under current zoning, nearly 700 homes could be built on the property if it is not placed under protection.

 

Natural Lands Trust has been working with the Dietrichs for more than five years to conserve the land.

 

“It is too early to celebrate, but we are optimistic that much of this iconic property can be conserved,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “It’s a complex deal with many moving parts, but Bryn Coed is certainly worth fighting to save. It’s a community and ecological treasure.”

 

If successful, the deal would result in a 400-plus-acre nature preserve with eight miles of hiking trails that will be owned and managed by Natural Lands Trust. The preserve will be open to visitors, free of charge, just like other nature preserves owned by the regional conservation group—including the 112-acre Binky Lee Preserve in nearby Chester Springs. In addition, West Vincent Township is considering Natural Lands Trust’s offer to establish a 72-acre municipal park on the property.

 

The remainder of the property would be divided into large conservation properties, preserved by conservation easements, and sold to private individuals.

 

“The amount of land that can be permanently protected as a Natural Lands Trust preserve is dependent on the amount of funding we can raise. The cost of preserving the entirety of such a vast and valuable property is beyond the currently available resources. We will be seeking support from the public in the weeks and months ahead,” Morrison added.

 

In 2003, the Dietrich brothers decided to divest themselves of the property. Various conservation and development options were explored but never came to a successful conclusion.

 

In recent years, several developers have been in negotiations with the Deitrichs, including Toll Brothers, which had proposed a 254-unit development on about one-quarter of the property.

 

Much of the property is actively farmed or in pasture. There are nearly 500 acres of mature woodlands on the property that are home to a myriad of songbirds and other wildlife. Generations of residents and visitors have enjoyed the pastoral views of Bryn Coed Farms.

 

The land also contains the headwaters to Pickering Creek, and is a high priority for source water protection. Bryn Coed Farms alone constitutes 17 percent of the remaining unprotected high-priority land in the Pickering Creek watershed.

 

Persons interested in receiving more information as the Bryn Coed Farms conservation effort progresses are invited to visit www.natlands.org/bryncoed and sign up for email updates. Those interested in learning more about the conservation properties that will be available for sale should contact Brian Sundermeir, Bryn Coed project manager, at 610-353-5587, ext. 237.

 

Natural Lands Trust is the region’s largest land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 43 nature preserves totaling nearly 22,000 acres. Today, some 2.5 million people live within five miles of land under the organization’s protection. For more information, visit www.natlands.org.

 

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

So, this is not yet quite a done deal. There are three municipalities and a lot of due diligence and environmental testing.  From what I am reading, not all of the land will be conserved (it’s a little unclear) ,  but one can hope and no matter what this is a heck of a lot more than anyone expected.

As I understand it, The NLT-owned preserve will be a “big chunk ” of Bryn Coed.  The remainder will be large conservation lots with easements on them and trail easements as well. The size of the preserve can grow if Natural Lands Trust gets more money towards the project.

To David Robinson and his family who own Crebilly, why can’t you look at something like this? You can afford to.

Ok I just wanted to put this out there as some thought my post from the other evening was fabricated. I do my homework, and it doesn’t get much more official than the press release from Natural Lands Trust. And this is THEIR hard work and no one else’s (because I know some who will try to take credit, and well it is not theirs to take.)

BRAVO NLT!  This is why I am a member and big believer in the Natural Lands Trust, they  do not just talk the talk, they walk the walk.  (Brian O’Leary and the Chester County Planning Commission could learn something here, just saying.)

I am a member of Natural Lands Trust, and proudly so.  Please consider a membership. This is me asking incidentally, not them. Go out and enjoy the glorious weekend this weekend. This surely is an awesome way to start it!

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust

Alessandra Manzotti photos courtesy of Natural Lands Trust