Giant Kroger Marketplace in West Chester delayed to complete property buys

The giant Kroger Marketplace planned for Tylersville and Cox roads in West Chester Twp. is taking longer than expected, so the trustees granted a due-diligence extension.

The township agreed to sell its Activity Center on Cox Road last fall for $1.8 million. West Chester Plaza owner Regency Centers was the only group to submit a proposal. The acquisition would allow for a new 95,545-square-foot Kroger to replace the existing store, but the grocery giant and retail center owners want to build a 117,166-square-foot Marketplace which would require the purchase of additional properties nearby.

Regency Centers had 90 days to acquire Providence Bible Fellowship Church and some land from Chesterwood Village property, which is owned by Hillandale Communities and six months to complete due diligence. However three 90-day extensions could be requested at a cost of $50,000 each. The trustees agreed to amend the contract last week giving Regency another six months with $100,000 due in September.

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Township Administrator Larry Burks explained the situation Kroger’s landlord has encountered to trustees recently.

“Regency has established property acquisition agreements with Providence Bible Fellowship (Church) and Hillandale Communities as anticipated,” Burks said. “However the time the process has taken to establish these agreements has taken longer than anticipated, therefore site planning, zoning and many of the normal due diligence issues are yet to be addressed.”

Ryan Ertel, senior leasing agent at Regency, told the Journal-News there are about 10 other property owners his company needs to reach easement and other agreements with to complete the complicated deal.

“Redevelopment of our existing site may require some of those easements to be expanded or narrowed or refined in some way and all that requires discussion and buy-in from the other parties…,” Ertel said. “So there’s discussions and attorneys and amendments and all that stuff has to be worked through and unfortunately that takes a lot of time.”

He said they knew all of these agreements were involved but it is an old site and some unforeseen things have cropped up. Regency still must go through zoning approvals with the county that could require addressing traffic and other concerns, so the new September deadline could also be extended, at an additional cost to Regency, Ertel said.

Regency submitted the proposal last July, and the timetable at the time called for a July 2022 opening.

“There is no hard deadline date yet, it’s still a very fluid project,” Ertel said. “Anything that slows you down it’s a domino effect so the date is going to continue to be fluid as we work through this process. As we get further along we’ll know more and be able to narrow that window of when they might open.”

Trustee Mark Welch said the township understands how complicated this project is and pushing the $50,000 off to the next deadline isn’t a “big deal.”

“This whole thing is a win-win, it’s a win for the township, it’s a win for business, it’s a win for residents and why not give a little bit of extra time in order to allow this win-win situation to develop and make its way through,” Welch said. “All we’ve done is pushed it out there six months, that money just goes to the purchase price anyway.”

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