Photos and italicized text are from a Malvern business owner. I feel very badly for them.
📌Ok Malvern we need help with the kids! The kids sit out front of the butcher shop, which we don’t mind. What I do mind is they constantly leave tons of trash on the bench, the ground and the window sills, dump their drinks on the ground and smash up food that I go out and pick up. It’s not a good image when customers are coming into the store or walking the shopping center. I have reminded the kids multiple times to pick up their trash before they leave. I even went out one day and screamed across the parking lot for them to come back and clean up after seeing the huge mess they left out there. Now yesterday I went and bought a trash can and sat it right next to the bench so it’s convenient for them. Tonight we go to leave to find more trash (we already picked some up before I took a picture) and they punched in the lid of the can and kicked the can in. I am at my wits end and need suggestions?? What else can we do? I don’t want to be a meanie, but I also refuse to let these kids continue trashing the shopping center and me having to clean up after them every day, multiple times a day! HELP!!! I’m waving the I surrender flag 🏳📌
Ok I don’t get these kids and also do not understand why Malvern Borough hasn’t done anything or the Malvern Business Association? I am sharing this out there so hopefully people can help these small businesses out.
Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough. Still don’t like them how many years later, although I do support the businesses. So who owns Eastside Flats now because I am uncertain at this point who owns the development and who manages it? It’s not the original developer.
Does everyone remember a couple of different things that put Eastside flats in the news early on? The amazingly and shockingly low amount of ratables Malvern Borough would receive for approving a development still out of scale and character for the Borough of Malvern? And the other kerfuffle when The Whip Tavern said no to Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough?
But then everyone heard Christopher’s was coming to town. It was like that one thing changed a lot of perception about this behemoth of a development. I have always felt like Christopher’s was a kind of anchor that drew people to Eastside Flats and other people and other businesses quite possibly. I know they are what initially made me personally give Eastside Flats a chance.
Christopher’s made Malvern more of a destination, which in turn benefited other businesses and the borough itself. And if there was a community event, Christopher’s in Malvern was right there for the community the way Christopher’s in Wayne always has been.
And for years Christopher’s did things like featured local artists on their walls. And they had wonderful staff. If you told one of the Christopher’s waitstaff you had a particular food allergy or a series of food allergies, they all knew the menu so well that they could bring you a flawless order that wouldn’t make you sick. They did this for a friend of mine one time when we went in for lunch. She had a lot of food allergies and they took care of her so perfectly. (it’s because of all these things that I will continue to go to Wayne once life returns to a more normal pattern.)
Recently, Christopher’s closed their Malvern location thanks to the COVID19 of it all, to return solely to a Wayne which leaves a giant, gaping, empty hole in the streetscape,and also, well they will be missed. In addition to being a wonderful business, Christopher’s offered food that wasn’t formula pub food and you didn’t just go there because it was a bar. You went there because it was a restaurant and it was a nice experience for all ages. It wasn’t huge or cavernous and cold as a space it was kind of just right. But can you imagine what the rent nut was to cover in Eastside Flats?
COVID-19 has caused America’s hospitality industry from coast to coast to take a direct and brutal hit. The largest in history for that industry. Restaurants and other hospitality industry businesses are closing left and right from coast to coast. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that not only are they getting no assistance, it’s the rents they are being charged.
But I have to ask, what kind of rent do these commercial landlords think they will get? After all, we are in a struggling in the present economy at a minimum, and nobody wants to look at what the other potential downside is, correct? I also think overall the economy has not been as strong as we have been led to believe. And people will argue with me about that but that’s just how I feel.
Malvern’s charm is in it’s history and size, much like the village portion of Berwyn and similarly scaled small towns and villages. Berwyn is in Easttown Township and a present is suffering from potential development implications of its own, but I think they need to look at what’s going on in Malvern Borough right now.
These new developments come in and even with old developments they will offer a lower rent to get somebody in the door. Then those rents get jumped over time to the point that the businesses have to look at their own financial viability and decide if they want to put food on the table of their families and staff or food on the table of whoever the commercial landlords are.
I know plenty of people who have over the years owned other restaurants or brick and mortar stores in various communities who had to make the painful decision to close because after their initial honeymoon when they first came to town and did business with their respective commercial landlords, they couldn’t justify the rents any longer.
And commercial property owners don’t really necessarily care about the empty storefronts in our communities, it’s about what they can make. So they won’t look at continual lease turnover the same way a community might. If one of their property sits empty, I am told they apply those losses to the bottom line of profits from other properties, so for them, it’s business as usual if a place is empty, right? Greedy is as greedy does right? And a lot of these commercial landlords aren’t local. So they don’t get what happens locally nor do they really care do they?
So now we are here in 2020. In October 2020 which has to be one of the most stressful and heartbreaking years a lot of us have experienced in our lifetimes. And a global pandemic known as COVID-19 is bringing the economy down like a house of cards, card by freaking card isn’t it? Drive Route 30 alone from further west to east to the city line. You really see the empty store fronts. This is no joke.
When it comes to local restaurants, not all of them have the space to put things outside and not all of the communities have the wherewithal to let the businesses put tables outside. And because this virus is not under control, and there’s no shot for it, everything is two steps forward and seven steps back is what it feels like. We are in the midst of additional outbreaks now. Which of course then makes businesses fear they will have to shut down again.
Someone said to me that essentially politics is driving all of this. And you can’t just blame it on one party or the other. Especially out here in these smaller municipalities. They don’t really have political savvy or Wiley Coyoteness. And yes, in Philadelphia they do (cue Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and the giant mess there), but out here? The politicians don’t necessarily run much, they are kind of run, aren’t they?
So when I heard about Christopher’s closing, I mentioned it to a chef in search of a space. And they didn’t want just any space they wanted the right space. And this is a chef who will blow a lot of culinary minds. They have the international and national credentials, they have the knowledge base and experience. So I told them about Eastside Flats. Selfishly, I want them to open a restaurant in our area. A lot of people do. They are also the kind of person who would bring people to the community just the way Christopher’s did and say Alba and General Warren do. It would be win-win to our communities and existing fine dining.
I asked this person the other day whatever had happened with them investigating Eastside Flats. And I think suffice it to say, unrealistic rents on the part of the commercial landlord happened. Did I mention this is a person with business experience? They essentially told me that what was being quoted for rent wouldn’t be sustainable during a normal period, let alone a global pandemic. Essentially, a business needs to sustain itself and with what whomever over there at Eastside is currently thinking, it just wouldn’t happen, that they wouldn’t even be able to break even. It’s a typical commercial property dilemma, and the dilemma is the only party who would be making a profit would be the commercial property owner and what small business in their right mind wants to assume that risk?
I am not an economist, but I remember hearing somewhere once that most restaurants only start to turn a profit in the 3 to 5 year mark if they are lucky and survive that long. Profit is revenue minus costs, both fixed and variable, right? Starting a restaurant is fantastically expensive correct? Also what fits into the equation is also not confusing profitability with revenue generating, yes? Even if a restaurant is generating high revenue, they’re not necessarily reflecting a similar profit, correct?
So I think Malvern Borough and other municipalities need to wake up. Stop just bending over for absentee commercial landlords and developers. Recognize that compromise is something that they have to negotiate so we get quality non-formula and not just chain or franchise businesses in our communities. We need a retail mix that has better planning, essentially. In a lot of other areas municipalities have retail coordinators who help recruit businesses to the communities in which they work and help the negotiation process between potential businesses and commercial landlords. Even business district authorities and business associations will do this. And the simple reason for that is nobody is as invested in the community as the community itself.
Eastside Flats is kind of looking like a ghost town. And they just let a huge opportunity for our community and for them walk away because of unrealistic rent expectations. They might not like my opinion but the first amendment allows me to have it.
So that is your food for thought so to speak for the day. How are your communities being impacted by commercial landlords during COVID-19? And how will the hospitality industry survive and what will it look like after this? And when you are formulating your response try to leave the politics out of it because politicians and political parties come and go but these are our local businesses.
Also if you are interested Bon Appétit Magazine has a terrific article from the end of September on how you can help those in the restaurant industry.
Development is a funny thing. I see all of these amazing adaptive reuse and other projects everywhere but in the area we call home. Chester County is overrun with bad and/or inappropriate plans. And yes there is one that concerns me in Malvern Borough. But first we need to talk about the last development which caused me concern there before due to it’s hulking nature: Eastside Flats.
And at the end of the day one of the biggest problems STILL with Eastside Flats is lack of human scale and inappropriate design for the area. They tower over everything and citify a small town in a way that is architecturally inappropriate. And I would still like to know how fire trucks can navigate this site completely in the event of fire?
Eastside Flats still is in my opinion, architecturally unimaginative and looks like hulky, looming Lego buildings that created a canyon effect in tiny Malvern. That is NOT a reflection on the businesses there which I love and patronize. Nothing about these buildings ties into the quaint Borough of Malvern or it’s history. I said this in 2013 and I still think that.
And again, this has NOTHING to do with the businesses. It’s the aesthetics, lack of human scale and even the crappy scored-to-look-like-brick-concrete-sidewalks which are a slip and fall and trip hazard. And the fact there is STILL no curb cut from the public parking lot so you don’t have to walk over MULCH. I mean how many years will it take to correct that? And there is little room for delivery trucks, so it’s not uncommon to find UPS and other trucks blocking a pedestrian’s path from parking lot to sidewalk. The finishes on the facade of the buildings are also already showing wear.
The consequences of Eastside Flats caused an election upheaval in 2013. Yet, Malvern Borough is still facing inappropriate development that will be completely out of scale again, in my opinion, if built. And no, I don’t have a horse in this race. I will merely be around to say I told you so if it gets built the way it looks now in the plans.
What was torn down a few years ago….
Here are the documents you can peruse that were sent to me by concerned residents in Malvern Borough (screenshots below are from these documents – it shows the evolution of proposed plans and note it doesn’t look like it’s Malvern at all):
“So much local development that happens before people are aware of it, and then the only thing people can do it complain after the fact. It would be great to get public input on this before it’s an inevitability.
The residents who attended the last PC meeting raising the several concerns about this project are: * Height – it will be out of scale and character with the surrounding buildings and neighborhood behind. They are requesting a variance for height. * Traffic – The proposed design will have people entering leaving at the intersection of King and Bridge, adding to our current rush hour traffic woes. * Construction – How are they going to stage this kind of construction on our overcrowded streets. They are refusing to consider another entrance off of Woodland, which would make this easier. To get the Woodland entrance they would need to purchase 2 parking spaces from the current owner. * Aesthetics – This is a gateway to Malvern. Do we really want a corporate monolith looming above the street as our welcome to Malvern?“
Another resident said:
“I think the applicant should turn his building 90 degrees on its eastern axis nearest Woodland. The short side of the structure takes up only half the King St. frontage of the current proposal. Run the remainder of the building back to the property’s 160′ depth, ending up with the same size building. Plenty of window light all around because the Woodland and King neighbor is small and not deep anyway (which the applicant should buy if possible, anyway). A now 65′ wide frontage (by 43′ high) is far more compatible with the current scale on King. Now, what do you do with the remaining half of the lot to the west? You put in a beautiful hardscape (cobblestones, bricks, maybe even pervious, etc) all the way to the property depth, studded with lots of trees (diminishing a couple or three parking spaces, for sure, but that’s all, and don’t forget, trees reduce bare ground temperature by 30%). Maybe the drive comes in from Bridge or maybe it goes in from Woodland, but that doesn’t matter to the concept. (Woodland is clearly better for traffic, though.) Office parking on the hardscape during business hours. The Borough gets the parking in the evening, without security concerns because no one has to go through the off-limits parking under building.On special occasions we would have a new park-like hardscape area for public events. And most critically, we all enjoy the view from Bridge, seeing lots of trees and openness at Our Town’s last main entrance.” It’s a creative solution instead of a box building that checks all of the bureaucratic boxes. In Malvern it seems we use our ordinances to justify buildings that no one wants. “
I am told that developer folks are asking for like 4 variances: height relief, parking relief, buffer relief (going from 20 ft. to 5 ft.), relief from having to install some kind of parking island? So, if these variances are granted without conditions, such as making them subject to PC recommendations based on SALDO issues, there will be very little the Borough can do to require changes to the plan, right?
Ok so I wrote about the site in 2015 when the original buildings were coming down. I felt back then that although I understood there probably there was no way to save the 19th century storefront and other structures given the decrepit buildings they was attached to. But this is the kind of waste that makes me crazy because someone had seemingly sat on this land for the better part of what? A decade or better?
Still lost? Remember where the lovely store UpHome had their first home? Across King from The Flying Pig? What was reported to have been Malvern’s last 19th century store front? There.
So Malvern Borough, you got rid of Malvern Victorian Christmas for something not quite as memorable, although nice. Are you slowly going to be overtaken by things too large and hulking for a small Main Street oriented town? Please consider better.
And Malvern Borough residents? Some of you will send me nasty comments or post them because I am expressing concern here. That’s on you. You can be ostriches or you can get involved with your borough again.
If I lived and paid taxes in the Borough of Malvern I would want better for my community. I would want new construction to fit and reflected the character of the borough. So ask your borough folks when meeting will occur for this plan. Or not. Again, it’s up to you. I am merely expressing my opinion and concern.
I am not a fan of the color scheme which was chosen (too blah beige) but the new apartment building on King in Malvern Borough really looks good. It’s not quite done as you can see from the lawn that isn’t a lawn yet, but I like it.
They put a lot of time and attention into architectural design and detail. And it’s all the way around the building not just a false front, which is the case most of the time.
Everyone always thinks I hate every bit of development. The truth is, I don’t. When you have people like this who are thoughtful about what their finished product is going to be I totally respect that. These people put a lot of time and effort into trying to make their building blend with the surrounding area and structures. It’s a modern building with homage to the past.
This was sent to me by one of my readers to me this morning at 8:05 AM. This is the Flying Pig in Malvern Borough. On the corner of King and Bridge. A nice local business, a staple of the borough community, and beloved by so many in the extended community.
The irony is Malvern Borough does a lot of murals, so if somebody wanted to paint on walls they could volunteer and paint on walls proactively.
This graffiti is wrong. It’s not hip, it’s not cool, it’s wrong. This is hard-earned money out of the pocket of any small business that has to deal with this.
If anyone knows who did this, or if anyone has external outdoor security cameras that may have captured who these people were going to and from the site, I hope they pay it forward and go to the police. In turn, I hope the police don’t come down like a hammer on anyone apprehended for this, but instead give them something proactive like community service so they can learn and move forward.
I get the people wish to express themselves, but this is not the way to do it. Don’t punish small businesses like this. Don’t punish residents like this. Slow your roll and find another way.
To the Flying Pig and other businesses with exposed walls especially, as we learned years ago when facing a sudden onset of graffiti in Ardmore, PA (Lower Merion Township) it isn’t a bad idea to invest in anti-graffiti paint or anti-graffiti sealer coats.
At the time we were dealing with this in Ardmore, residents used to come together and help the small businesses clean up the graffiti and repaint. I always found it heartening that something that was pure vandalism could bring a community together, even for a short time.
Malvern Borough is a treasure. I am really sorry to have to report on this sad act this morning.
August 1, 2018 UPDATE: So last evening the fire company released the above. Very carefully scripted in my humble opinion. They say several factors including low ticket sales and the amount of volunteer work to get it done properly- however it’s not not exclusively those reasons necessarily is it? They didn’t say there wasn’t any protest did they?
While I am super happy to hear they are doing well with other fund raisers, many questions remain since the whole pig roast protest thing was reported by multiple individuals including the lady who first posted about this in Malvern Community Forum.
Maybe I have an overly suspicious mind, I really don’t know, but I still think there is more to the story than the public knows. And to Malvern Fire Company, no, I would never undo a donation I gave, but after hearing what I heard, like many others I sent in a small donation because I felt so badly about what I had heard. Now I do not know what to think and honestly, I also don’t quite know how I feel about THAT.
Original post intact below.
I received this from a friend at 4:51 PM today. I first heard about this this morning. And I was outraged. What I was told is that the poor fire company got emails and phone calls saying a pig roast was a horrible thing to do to an animal, and HUH???
I’m sorry where do these people think that bacon, hotdogs, ribs and more come from?What the hell is wrong with people? And I’m sorry that this news is worth a “what the hell.” This pig roast is a community event that has been quite successful in Malvern Borough for the Malvern Fire Company. Our communities are served by mostly volunteer fire companies and community fundraisers help a lot!
I do not know what is wrong with people moving out here but do they think that their food is grown on either of the roofs of Wegmans, Kimberton Whole Foods, or Whole Foods?
What do they want? A tofu roast?To say you love the community and then to throw a monkey wrench into a successful community summer fundraiser for a local fire company is shameful. And those people who wrote those emails and made those phone calls should be giving immediate donations to the Malvern Fire Company to make up for what they will lose by canceling this event. I know I made a small donation to the Malvern Fire Company this afternoon after I heard about this.
You can make a donation by going to their website and looking for the yellow donate button or my mailing them a check or dropping it off at the fire house on King. They are at 424 E. King Malvern, PA 19355.
Pig roasts, clam bakes, chicken dinners, fairs, carnivals and barbecues are also a hallmark of summer. Old fashioned fun steeped in traditions older than we are.They foster a sense of community and for local fire companies they raise money and help them out. Plus they are helping all of us out by hosting an all-American community event.
If this craziness is true, it is anti-American in my book to fuss and get it cancelled. Anyone who either called or emailed the fire company to protest a pig roast also has no clue as to the agricultural history of Chester County! I get that people are vegan and vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean the entire community at large is or should be. And truthfully when you go to these events if you are vegan and vegetarian you either bring your own food or you find a way to eat around the meat. You don’t up and get a community event cancelled for that or because you dont like it in general do you?
And before somebody rolls up on me saying I am discriminating against vegans and vegetarians, I have them in my family. And what I know about my own family members is they’re not going to go protest to have a community event canceled because it’s not food they eat. They just eat around it and support the community event. Hey what a novel idea – that’s what grown-ups do.
I’ve gone to plenty of beef and beer fundraisers over the course of my life and I don’t drink beer. I have soda instead.
The screenshot above is one I have in its original format but the poster’s name was crossed out for post purposes to protect their identity.
In communities, I don’t think you mess with traditions. Now maybe this pig roast wasn’t an age-old fire company tradition, but it has been a successful event for the past few years and was becoming a new tradition in the summer. I think it’s really pathetic that people would ruin that for the public at large, their community in which they live, and for a beloved local volunteer fire company.
Please consider giving an immediate donation to the Malvern fire company to help them offset the loss they will experience for not holding this event if this is true.
I still think this event should go on and if ignorant people want to protest it like they protest planned deer hunts in Valley Forge Park, let them. They are the ones who are the smaller, ignorant people for it. I’m getting off my soapbox now. I am just appalled at this news if it’s true.
This morning when I arrived in Malvern Borough for a creative meeting with colleagues I could barely get into the municipal parking lot across King from the Buttery safely. There was a giant pick up truck with a flatbed trailer attached to it parking behind the spaces in the lot. It belonged to workmen working on the property on the other side of the fence.
I did not photograph the truck (because I bet they were just told to park there that it would be OK and they took someone’s word at face value) , but in photo above you can see where I am talking about and imagine for yourself how difficult it was to navigate that parking lot and parking spaces with something that took up easily three quarters of the length of the parking lot which is not particularly deep to begin with.
As I was getting parked someone came out to the truck which was an out of local vicinity truck. I saw the guy and I said “Hi, I hate to bother you but do you actually have permission from Malvern to park like this and leave your truck and trailer parked here?”
The guy responded “I think so?”
So I said “I’m not trying to give you a hard time but it was very difficult to park, so I hope you’re not offended if I call Malvern Borough and ask.”
As I was dialing Malvern Borough, they magically moved the truck out of the municipal parking lot. The person who answered the phone at the borough transferred me to the police so I asked the police if this truck had permission to park like this because it was really difficult to navigate the parking lot with it parked there. I also told whoever the man was (who did not identify himself nor did he ask me for any of my information) that as soon as I asked them if they had permission to park a construction vehicle there they got someone to move the truck and trailer.
The response from this gentleman was polite but you could tell the last thing he wanted to do was speak to some woman trying to park in the municipal parking lot and having issues.
He said to me that basically I needed to understand that they tried to cut local business people a break. And I said to him it wasn’t a local business person it was a very out of area truck and trailer parked in a municipal lot. And that they were not displaying anything that indicated they had permission to park there. (which prompted my phone call in the first place.)
He also told me well he didn’t have a problem with them offloading equipment and then moving the truck, which I actually agree with because it’s just being polite. BUT if I had not asked them if they had permission to park there all day I bet they would’ve left the truck there all day and that’s not fair to people who want to utilize a municipal parking lot in the first place is it?
The idea behind municipal parking lots anywhere especially in small towns is to get visitors’ vehicles off the streets and in a safe spot. That way residents have places to park their own cars and visitors can,well, enjoy their visits, right?
Since this part of Malvern Borough has been built up with Eastside Flats there are often issues with how people park. I always park where I am supposed to because I don’t want to inconvenience any business or resident. But I find, shall we say commercial vehicles, aren’t so considerate. I have also taken photos of what it was like trying to get out of the parking lot and back onto King.
There is always a perpetually parked UPS truck for Eastside Flats. For some reason they seem to always park right in front of the pedestrian crosswalks. The pedestrian crosswalks are lovely but people don’t get what they are and why they are there and they aren’t enforced, so crossing King there is still a bit of a game of chicken.
On the same side of the street as the municipal lot on the opposing corner was some kind of a clean out of another property. Two trucks. I have included another photo that shows where one of those trucks was parked which made it extraordinarily difficult to get out of there safely onto King because they were right on the corner.
Sightlines are supposed to be clear, right? it’s a safety issue right? It’s something that planners are always supposed to take into consideration and see that they are done properly right?
I adore Malvern Borough but I humbly suggest that they revisit some of these trouble spots with parking and traffic before somebody gets in an accident and hurt.
I’m chalking this up to growing pains. But it is something that this town needs to figure out as they grow and move forward into the future. It’s also what other towns should look at when they have giant developers who want to come build things on their Main Streets.