Commercial site under development in West Chester

A development 14 years in the making is taking its time getting there.

The commercial area of West Chester Village, planned for nearly 21 acres fronting Ohio 747, just north of Hutzelman Way, will develop “on a staggered basis,” according to Martha Hutzelman, the site’s owner.

Hutzelman Square at West Chester Village will consist of 128,600 square feet of retail space with room for five outlots, said David Wittekind of In-Line Development Company, the property’s development consultant.

The first outlot to be developed was Chase Bank, which opened in 2011. Children’s Learning Adventure, a 33,000-square-foot early childhood center, is the next outlot planned for construction, but a permit has not yet been filed, Wittekind said.

West Chester Academy, which opened in April, was the first retail center building to be constructed.

Other users are in discussions to develop on the site, but none have been finalized, Wittekind said.

The site was a 204-acre Hutzelman family farm since the early 19th century. When Hutzelman’s father died in 1995, family members decided they wanted to sell off the property, but ensure it was developed in a manner that fits in with the community, Hutzelman said.

“We decided as a family that we wanted to be very careful about what we did with the property so that it would provide a legacy for the community,” she said.

The site was first rezoned in 2001, but the commercial portion sat undeveloped over the years as the family focused on creating “a unified approach to having a quality development and a sense of community for the entire property.”

That includes walking trails and water features among the single-family homes, apartment and condominiums that have filled the site in the years since the project was first announced.

“We review everyone who comes in and what their site plan is to make sure that it carries forth those same standards of quality,” Hutzelman said.

Previously, the family set the criteria for a developer who it approved to build a strip center and allowed the developer to find tenants for it, she said.

For the commercial part of the site now being developed, the family wanted to do the same and not just bring in “random users,” Hutzelman said.

“We had a number of people approach us who wanted to put in various types of businesses but we didn’t feel like they were the types of business that would benefit the community,” she said. “We’re trying to be more selective because this is the commercial centerpiece of the property.”

That means deliberately avoiding commonplace establishments such as automotive centers and gas stations in favor of businesses “of an educational nature” or family-oriented, sit-down restaurants, she said.

There’s no timeline for the rest of the site to be developed, Hutzelman said.

“What we’ve learned over the years is, it’s better to be patient and get the right people,” she said.

Hutzelman Square is scheduled to go before West Chester Twp. Commission at its June 15 meeting, requesting a final development plan for parking addition, landscaping, lighting and directional signs. It also will be requesting revisions to the previously approved preliminary development plan.

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