I have written about Linden Hall on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer a few times the past couple of years.
Linden Hall has been rotting month by month, and becoming more and more vine covered. In recent months driving by , I have noticed more broken panes of glass.
According to eastwhiteland.org it was also know as “Wayne Tavern”. Although this location has some historic importance, I can’t find much about it.
On TEHistory.org I found one mention a while ago :
…at the end of #352, and again on the north side, stands the General Wayne Tavern, now a private residence. In 1777 Washington’s troops camped near the General Wayne.
So anyway….there was a Planning Commission meeting in East Whiteland last evening and Linden Hall was on the agenda:
5. Subdivision and Land Development: The Benson Companies, LLC, renovation of Linden Hall and the development of 60 townhouses on two parcels on the north side of Rt. 30 opposite the intersection of Rt. 352 in a VMX – Village Mixed Use Zoning District.
The site is 8.7 acres I am told. I don’t know if all of the land is usable, so I am not sure if 60 townhouse development is incredibly dense for the site, or moderate. It would be nice to get an online peek at the plans, but I don’t know if that will happen. And East Whiteland neither records nor televises meetings.
Previously I saw the property being marketed as things like “Linden Hall Shopping Center” which made me shudder because how many bad strip malls and mish-mosh shopping centers is needed along there, right? (But given what is up the road a bit, I guess everyone is lucky the site never became another run-down trailer park.)
There has been a Linden Hall Development LLC registered in PA since 2000 (Entity Number:2936326 , Entity Creation Date: 4/14/2000), and I found that mentioned in archived East Whiteland meeting notes from 2010.
I think if a developer is offering to restore and do an adaptive reuse of the actual Linden Hall it is far better a choice than what was once contemplated. Reference please the article from the Daily Local circa 2001:
E. Whiteland OKs exception to moratorium By Pateen Corcoran
POSTED: 05/28/01, 12:00 AM EDT | 0 COMMENTS
Though some questioned the waiver, a proposal to start the planning process for 50,100 square feet of commercial space on Route 30, known as the Linden Hall development, was unanimously approved.
Officials have defended their decision to allow the developer to submit a new plan despite the building moratorium since a similar proposal had been given final approval before the moratorium was enacted.
“The moratorium allows exceptions to previously approved subdivisions,” said Supervisor Virginia McMichael. “This project falls under that.”
“In the moratorium ordinance there’s a provision for this exception,” said Township Manager Terry Woodman.
Residents, however, questioned the exception.
“Everybody’s much concerned that they allowed the exception to the moratorium,” said resident Renee Mott…..Originally approved at the site was about 60,000 square feet of commercial space to include a Super Fresh supermarket.
“We’ve had an approval for over a year for a shopping center and a couple of shops,” said Linden Hall attorney Wendy McLean.
The proposed development will be located on about nine acres on the north side of Route 30, opposite Route 352.
The new plan proposes smaller shops, while eliminating the supermarket. A Class One historical building on the site is proposed to be used for offices, said McLean…..The sudden death of the project’s developer caused a delay. “It took the family quite a while to figure out what to do,” said McLean. “In the meantime the supermarket backed out and we haven’t been able to get another supermarket interested.”….Davis and McMichael voted to approve the waiver. Chairwoman Michele Vaughn was absent.
(Yes, the same Michelle Vaughn who just finished her time as head of the Chesco Dems.)
Linden Hall has been on and off East Whiteland Township agendas over the years and as time has passed it has fallen into more and more disrepair. So with cautious optimism I am pleased to report that Benson Companies apparently presented what were described to me as “very nice sketch plans.” It appears to be a much better use of the property that planners are hopeful will clean up that particular area, which quite frankly looks like crap.
Discussed in conjunction with the plan were proposed crosswalks to be installed across Lancaster Avenue (Lincoln Highway, Route 30- take your pick) and Route 352. Traffic improvements there I am sure would be welcome, and hopefully that might deter drivers playing beat the light as well as running that light.
As for the actual adaptive reuse of Linden Hall on the site, my sources tell me the developer will actually make the historic structure his new offices (he is currently on Phoenixville Pike). Apparently (and welcome news as well), Benson Companies has been working with East Whiteland’s Historic Commission to keep the historic look of the structure, while modernizing and adding onto the back.
I had heard of Benson Companies before because of a development they are doing on Strafford Avenue near the farmers market in Wayne, PA. That development is the old Chef Tells/Villa Strafford site, which has been another somewhat concerning and contentious development site for a few years. The contention there started several developers ago on that site in 2011. I had no idea until recently that this was the developer that ended up with this site as that location has been a case of whose on first the past few years. However, in all fairness, I have heard that this development site is finally not as contentious.
Fingers crossed on this one. I am glad someone wants to save this old structure. After all, you don’t hear news like this very often when development news occurs, do you ?