BREAKING big fire at atwater

UPDATE: One of my readers has pointed out a great article in The Daily Local which has outlined this fire which obviously is still under investigation:

Firefighters face difficult factors batting a fire in a building under construction

By Ginger Rae Dunbar gdunbar@21st-centurymedia.com @GingerDunbar on Twitter

Atwater is a ginormous development that is new in Chester County. Part of it which is in Tredyffrin Township is on fire.

900 block of Atwater Drive. 6ABC is on site. Echo Lake.

This is scary stuff and multiple fire companies have responded. My photos are from my readers. (Who are also reporting so many fire trucks that first responders are walking up the driveway.)

Below is from Chester County Working Fires. I think it is beyond 3 alarms. Thank God this building is unoccupied and please say prayers for all the first responders involved.

This last photo from another of my readers shows the long line of first responders. It makes you wonder about new construction doesn’t it?

Again, thank God this wasn’t occupied yet. Especially because it is for senior citizens I am told.

I will close with noting I have no idea what caused this fire. Some are speculating high winds, but I don’t know what the origin of the fire is. I will update the post if any of that is made known. I will update the post as additional media reports on it.

Many thanks to my readers for the photos and for Chester County Working Fires for covering it.

I do not know if the fire has been contained as I post this.

dear ryan homes….

Dear Ryan Homes,

Please pardon me while I barf all over your saccharine sweet ridiculous glossy postcard you mailed me today. My apologies, truly, part of it is because I am sick and part of it is because, well, I simply can’t stomach anymore developer drivel.

Who are you to judge the living I “deserve”?  I live quite nicely in Chester County.  I have an actual home that isn’t made of plastic and plywood.  

Why on earth would you think I wanted the urban Stepford plasticness of a non-organic fake neighborhood next to a highway?  Especially  because I live in a real neighborhood with real people?

I know, I know you want to sell everyone on the plastic houses that would be so lovely next to the elite blue lagoon of the old  quarry lake.  You know the one that no one has sufficiently fenced around yet?

The East Whiteland supervisors and staff like the director of building and planning are salivating and counting the ratables before they are hatched completely ….I get that. But it doesn’t necessarily mean build it and they will come. Of course they might all come and then it’s going to be like part of Chester County has turned into King of Prussia West. Or Bensalem, pick your  development.

Your “lake views” are as fake as the architecture you are touting here. That isn’t an actual lake it’s a toxic body of water left over from the days of quarries. If you were smart you would have fenced that in properly by now, but I predict it will take something awful happening before you actually do – presuming you guys own that since I don’t know who actually owns it. 

As far as I’m concerned everything being built over at Atwater is just developer blight on the horizon and density that we aren’t going to be able to handle in a few years.  And the schools certainly will bear the brunt of this and municipal and other services as well. And the roads are already groaning. 

But hey like everyone else’s development plans, it’s like all of yours exist in a tiny bubble with a green Elysian field surrounding it…. And in this case also bordering an unnaturally blue, toxic “lake”.

I’m sure by now you’re sorry I am on your mailing list. Trust me the feeling is mutual.

Signed ,

Just me, mocking  bad developments proudly for decades.

carribean blue in chesco?

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A view of the new construction on the quarry at Atwater recently. Somehow I don’t think just the fact limestone was quarried there makes that water that particular Caribbean blue in Chester County?

Also do not think this is what Enya meant either….

Sure makes you wonder….

In a similarly colored water area in England, the Daily Mail referred to that “disused quarry”  (also limestone) as “The Poison Blue Lagoon”

They call it the Blue Lagoon, and people come from far and wide to cool off in its clear waters.

Yet the flooded former quarry is so polluted that its contents are almost as toxic as bleach.

warning-1Signs close to the shoreline warn that not only is the water known to contain abandoned cars, dead animals and human waste, but it has a pH level of 11.3 – compared with 12.6 for bleach and 11.5 for ammonia.

They state how the water is toxic enough to cause ‘skin and eye irritations, stomach problems and fungal infections’.

warning-2

 

Ick ick ick….I wonder….Is it a similar situation at Atwater?  It is undoubtedly given the dirty toxic past of that area and surrounding area like Bishop Tube not just limestone sludge in that water and shouldn’t that be considered especially given the volume of development and density going in over there? After all, it’s not like there is substantial fencing separating the old quarry from new Tyvec wrapped plastic villages and what not over there are there? And wasn’t there a junk yard near by too?

Experts say quarries can be more dangerous than other bodies of water.  For all sorts of reasons.

It looks but is not quite Caribbean Blue. Just food for thought.  Who actually owns the quarry in East Whiteland you can see from Atwater, etc?

hardly fine dining in a fake general warren village

general warren

Sometimes imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes it is just imitation or borrowing a name to play on the history they don’t care about anyway.  Such is the case of  developer to the masses Eli Kahn and his “The Village at General Warren”  in the “Charlestown Retail Center”  on “General Warren Blvd” in Malvern off 29 in or near that behemoth of ugliness known as Atwater. You know Atwater, where there is a giant quarry and insufficient fencing? And lots and lots of development?

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It makes me recall a recent blog comment which in part said:

The “Suburban Landscape” County planning category promotes infill and appropriate density. County buzzwords for “put all the crap in this part of the County so we can keep some parts of the County green.”  East Whiteland is already written off as far as controlling development….the more here, the better in the County’s eyes. The prior issue of County Plan had existing homes obliterated by corporate park….so their intent has been clear for a long time. All very sad.

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So that says to me no one really cares, and we have to wonder if everything is a fait accompli? How sad, indeed.

So what got me thinking about this today?  An article in Patch which doesn’t exactly represent actual journalism at this point. They regurgitate the hard work of actual reporters and they post press releases in their entirety as articles. Journalism, Patch style. Here is is with typos (you’re welcome):

pj 1pj 2

Three screenshots as they appeared in Malvern Patch August 31, 2016

Three screenshots as they appeared in Malvern Patch August 31, 2016

Ah yes another chain pub style restaurant…because there are not enough of them locally, correct? Is this the finest of fine dining they think we should have in Chester County? And much like name brand car dealerships, they all look the same. They all have the same menu. Pick a Whelihan’s, they are all the same and there is one in Downingtown, there is one coming to Oaks, there is one in West Chester, Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, Reading, Blue Bell, and Leighton and that is just PA. There is also Cherry Hill, Haddon Twp, Maple Shade, Medford Lakes, and Washington Township.

After all, nothing says date night or family dinner out like a modern day Houlihan’s, right?  You can never have too much of the same thing everywhere, right?

I am sorry not sorry but why do we have to be both a development wasteland and a dining wasteland too?

And then there is the whole “Village at General Warren” of it all. Apparently the whole thing is brought to you by a company called Bernardon.  Look at their website and you will find little individuality.  It’s all formula “architecture”  (they also “designed” that thing Easttown residents are fighting called Devon Yard.)

Perhaps Mr. Kahn is getting older and forgets there already is a General Warren Village.  Part of it is located within the view shed of CubeSmart which he built and caused neighbors great distress over, right?

Now granted, General Warren Village as a development. Post WWII.

general-warren-1

But it was a planned development with decent sized lots which did not eat every tree in sight. The kind of development they don’t do today because today it is all about developers getting in and out with as much money as possible, which means what you get are cheaply constructed cram plans of same-y saminess.

The General Warren Inne, for which the real Village is named after is a country inn constructed in 1745. This 250 plus-year-old inn, once owned by the grandson of William Penn, is surrounded by woods on a few acres, and is an 18th century survivor (just think if anyone really gave a crap about Linden Hall, Linden Hall could be just as charming!)

I love the General Warren Inne.  I have seconded wedding photographers there and it is just lovely.  And it is still a bed and breakfast, and provides a wonderful alternative to chain hotels. So you have a developer borrowing the name after a fashion, but I bet they don’t really know the history.  Here is the history compiled by the General Warren Inne on itself:

Since 1745, the historic General Warren has been center stage for American history and a premier carriage stop for hungry travelers.

During The French & Indian War The story of the General Warren can be followed through its name changes. The Inne was first named in 1745 as The Admiral Vernon Inne, in honor of the naval commander Admiral Edward Vernon. He led the 1739 attack and capture of Portobello, Panama. In 1758, the name was changed to the Admiral Warren after the famed Admiral Peter Warren, a hero in defense of the American colony that year at Louisburg, (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) during the French and Indian War.

American Revolution During the revolution, the inn was owned by John Penn of Philadelphia, loyalist and grandson of William Penn. Its key location on the main highway between Philadelphia and Lancaster had helped the Admiral Warren become a popular stage stop and a Tory stronghold. It was here that the Loyalists met, drew maps and plotted against the revolutionaries. Howe and Cornwallis use these maps to negotiate the great valley, the route to capture Philadelphia.

Paoli Massacre The infamous Paoli Massacre, was planned and launched from The Admiral Warren Inne. Local folklore has it that on the night of September 20, 1777, the British, led by Lord Grey, captured the local blacksmith and tortured him on the third floor of the inn. Upon receiving the information that General “Mad Anthony” Wayne was camped one mile South of the Inne, the British attacked with bayonettes after midnight.

The Lancaster Turnpike Era In 1786, John Penn sold the property to Casper Fahnestock, a German Seventh Day Adventist from Ephrata. During Fahnestock’s long ownership, the Inne once again thrived, attracting many Lancaster County Germans and other travelers along The Lancaster Turnpike because of its reputation for clean lodging and excellent food.

The Early 19th Century In 1825 an effort was made to make amends with the new nation, the Admiral Warren was renamed the General Warren, to honor the American hero of Bunker Hill. During the 1820’s, the height of turnpike travel was reached, and the General Warren became a relay stop for mail stages and a post office. Then in April of 1831, the Philadelphia and Columbia Railway opened for travel, and in May of 1834, the last regular stage went through. The new, faster and cheaper means of travel via the rails doomed the inn as traffic by-passed the property.

The Inn’s Dormant Period In the 1830’s the great grandson of the first Fahnestock turned the Inne into a Temperance Hotel, cutting down his apple orchard to prevent cider from being made. The lack of spirits doomed the hotel, and it closed within a few years. From that point into the early 20th Century, The General Warren changed hands often, occasionally becoming a private residence. In the 1920’s, the inn reopened as a restaurant, with limited success over the next 60 years.

The Modern Era As area population and business grew in the mid 1980’s, the current owners made great strides to return the inn to its 18th Century elegance. The upper floors were renovated into 8 suites, the addition of a private dining room and all-weather heated patio for cocktail parties, outdoor dining and weddings. In 2005, the latest improvements included the new Admiral Vernon Dining Room and the return of The Warren Tavern, a spacious bar for dining and spirits, relocated to the original spot of the old tavern from the 19th Century.

Today at the General Warren Today’s guest at General Warren will find the perfect blend of old world charm, excellence in continental cuisine, fine wines and delightful overnight accommodations.

So the history of the General Warren and the eighteenth century architecture is captured how exactly by this “The Village at General Warren” in the Charlestown Retail Center?

The answer of course, is it is not.  It is just another example of a developer using aspects of our communities to sell their projects.  And another chain restaurant brings mostly minimum wage jobs with it, and well how many people do you know who can support a home and a family on a minimum wage job?

I don’t know who development like this is for, but certainly not truly our communities. Maybe if these developers actually tried to do something better with their commercial spaces or tried to being actual fine dining and not just chain pub food I wouldn’t be so cynical. But I am.

Apparently chain pub food is becoming as plentiful as WaWas. Say here’s an idea: why not merge the two and add a chain drug store with a drive thru. All smushed together – save time!!! No one has ever done that before.

Eyes rolling in Lego Land. It’s a big box world out there.

The General Warren Inne for which the real General Warren Village was named

The General Warren Inne for which the real General Warren Village was named

gotta have a wawa? ok but why so many east whiteland?

wawa1

Someone I met with yesterday who lives farther out in a more rural and straight farming community in Chester County said to me when we met up in Malvern Borough “I don’t like to come this way much any longer. It’s too congested and is getting over-developed.”

Yup. That is exactly how I felt about the Main Line when I left and I still do.

When I was little I remember distinctly the separation of city into green that one felt when traveling from Philadelphia to the suburbs known as the Main Line.  In the heat of the summer, the temperature would drop quite a bit once you got back to suburbia because of the trees and the green. The farther west you headed the cooler it got. Until you go to say Lancaster County. Lancaster was always hot and humid. Too far from water I suppose.

But as I grew up that temperature differential dropped as development occurred.  I remember the first development as a kid that I saw as a death knell to a way of life was what they call Oak Hill in Penn Valley.  I remember when there was farm there and lots of open space. When you drove by one corner you could see the remains of a silo and a spring house down in a little valley.

I love Chester County but I fear for Chester County because the planning is all pro-developer from municipality to municipality.  It’s not about us, the residents. It’s not about open space and protecting our farming and agricultural traditions and our history. It’s about the ratables and the lore that business taxes will cure all woes. Will they? When our school districts get full to busting at the seams and no plans were made for them, will that be curing all woes? Or will that just make those taxes go up as the school districts scramble to catch up in the ever-growing land of plastic houses?

Great Valley is one school district I wonder about in the land of disconnect.  And that is because of East Whiteland.

East Whiteland recently released a list of development in the works, and I do not believe that is all of it (read East Whiteland Development List Township Release Fall 2015 ). I find this list terrifying because well, I want to live in Chester County, not the next King of Prussia, Plymouth Meeting, or Conshohocken.  The development is all designed and planned so that developers can cram in as much per square foot as possible. It’s about calling all lemmings, your Tyvec wrapped monstrosities are ready.

And a lot of this is apartments. Apartments. When did the country become about apartments? And hey, is what is built already really filling to capacity?

oneill heaven

That is O’Neill’s building on the other side of Worthington. The Royal Worthington which I find well, royally unattractive. Sorry.  It has as much appeal as a Lego Tower only not as colorful. Lego towers are fun to build as kids, but do you want to live in one? With a “royal” view of highways? Imagine going out on their lovely Juliette balconies and hearing the whir of 202 and other major highways? Yeah, that’s Chester County living alrighty.

And then skip over to the Borough of Malvern. Eastside Flats. I love Chirstophers and the little boutiques, Kimberton Whole Foods and Malvern Creamery. But the buildings? The design? It says nothing about where they are placed, they are just a monument of in-your-face development left by the developer who sold the project and moved on. I know little of the new Eastside Flats owners other than trucks going there and equipment are always blocking King Road. And the apartments at night do not appear to have full occupancy.

Only Patch seems to be noticing all the development from media land, and what they post is only peripheral given I doubt the Malvern  Patch editor actually comes to the Malvern area which is more than a borough. One article talks about brining “thousands” to the area.

Sigh.

King of Prussia and worse here we come if people don’t wake up.

I drove by Linden Hall the other day. The land has been raped and scraped and pillaged in advance of those townhouses that are coming. I keep hearing about all the “restoration” that is supposed to occur to Linden Hall, which is quite historically significant, but I see nothing. Except broken windows on the side when I drive by. If the house is left open to the elements and construction much longer, how will that affect the actual ability to save Linden Hall? There is after all, nothing that guarantees that building’s preservation.

Let’s talk about historic preservation. East Whiteland has a historical commission pretty much in name only because you never hear about what they do, what they have saved, what they are planning to save. They don’t post their meeting agendas, they don’t post their meeting minutes.  The last minutes and only minutes one can find posted are from 2009, and it isn’t much. Here is a screen shot from just now:

East Whiteland Hist

So now let us go to the impetus for this post: WaWa. WaWa is like the new RiteAid wanting to gobble up as many commercial spaces as possible. East Whiteland has three in close proximity. Two in the Route 29 area (Swedesford off 29 and near route 30 on 29), and one on Planebrook and 30 (first photo in this post). Now there are plans for another WaWa in East Whiteland.  Umm there already is a WaWa, PA,  East Whiteland.

According to Patch this next WaWa is going in at the Haven at Atwater – another ridiculously pretentious name for a land of plastic which even Patch describes as “massive”. If that one gets built will it also be a pick up spot for day jobbers?

Response is mixed. I believe a lot of people don’t want another WaWa but some are of the mind set  more is good and how WaWa will keep taxes down and let municipal services grow. I do not quite get that logic because if municipal services have to grow, all taxpayers have to pay. And what about people on fixed incomes?

I know the jingle of “Gotta have a WaWa” but  there is no accounting for taste and one would *hope* people would want better for East Whiteland than gobs of plastic townhouses, limited historic preservation in a very historic area, and oh yes plastic chain stores to serve the plastic townhouse set?  Given the Wegmans and Target and existing WaWas and other things, I would say the 29 corridor is pretty well served already.

Time will tell.  Personally, I like my own coffee better.

Thanks for stopping by.

wegmans