Trustees cautiously optimistic about fourth Activity Center purchase offer

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

West Chester Twp. trustees are cautiously optimistic a fourth purchase offer of $2.25 million for the old Activity Center will result in a final sale.

The board agreed to a purchase agreement with Quattro Development out of Illinois to buy the property on Cox Road a week ago. The purchase price is $2.25 million nearly the full asking price of $2.5 million that was set in January. Officials said as of Monday Quattro has not yet returned the signed agreement.

The township has had three failed sales attempts, the first from Kroger for a giant Marketplace store, then Dr. Mohamed Aziz wanted to create medical offices and an event center plan went down two weeks ago. Trustee Mark Welch told the Journal-News they hopefully have a sale, but it isn’t written in stone yet.

“It’s hard to get excited after there’s been a lot of swings and misses, what you do is you become very stoic,” Welch said. “It’s like okay here’s the offer, I’m not going to get excited, I’m indifferent at this point because of that. We’ll see where it goes, if it goes, it goes, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.”

Quattro’s website lists 65 recent property purchases and about half say the developments will be leased to Higher Ground Education to operate Guidepost Montessori schools. Township officials said that is the company’s intention for the former Activity Center. Quattro officials could not be reached for comment.

Trustee Ann Becker said the old Activity Center — it was originally the township’s library — should be a good fit for a Montessori school given the wide open spaces, but the future use can’t be their only concern.

“Being a property owner of a government space is difficult because we have to balance what we want for the community, but at the same time get the best price for the taxpayer,” Becker said. “So it’s a balancing act between businesses that might want to buy it and prices that they’re willing to offer. It’s a tough spot.”

The Activity Center came into play after Community First Solutions stopped providing senior programming in 2019. Shortly thereafter the township agreed to sell the building to Kroger’s landlord Regency Centers but that turned out to be a two-year debacle.

Trustee Lee Wong also said he is “optimistically hopeful” this sale will go through, adding the Kroger deal was “delay after delay, just jerking us around, so we had enough of it.”

“I’m optimistic,” Wong said. “This is a good company, we checked, it’s a solid company.”

The agreement calls for $25,000 in earnest money and a 60-day due diligence period to do a detailed inspection of the property that is being sold as-is. An additional 60-day period is allowed while Quattro seeks permitting and possible other requirements, and a 30-day extension if requested. If Quattro fails to meet the deadline for notifying the township it plans to back out, they lose $10,000 of the earnest money.

Kroger’s landlord Regency Centers had a much more complicated purchase agreement. The Activity Center came into play after Community First Solutions stopped providing senior programming in 2019. Shortly thereafter the township agreed to sell the building to Kroger’s landlord Regency Centers for $1.8 million.

The deal was contingent on Regency Centers being able to acquire the Activity Center, the Providence Bible Fellowship church, a sliver from Chesterwood Village and easements and agreements with about 10 other property owners to complete the complicated deal.

The trustees gave Regency extensions of the timeline that was set in the purchase agreement to March 2020. The company had 90 days to acquire the church and Chesterwood properties 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 giving Regency another six months with $100,000 due September 2020. Regency cancelled the deal just before the payment would have been due.

Likewise, Aziz offered to buy the property in April for $1.9 million but after the due diligence period he asked the trustees to shave $300,000 off the price because of some required upgrades like sprinklers.

At the time Welch told the Journal-News he believed they could have kept the $100,000 in earnest money because he was changing the purchase agreement which said the building was being sold as it stands. But he said they would likely spend more in legal fees if Aziz took them to court.

Aziz sued the township in 2016 over a temporary moratorium banning drug rehab centers. The lawsuit settled and Aziz eventually opened his rehab center on U.S. 42.

The last deal fizzled two weeks ago. The trustees were set to approve an agreement with a local family to create an event center but the offer was rescinded because financing failed for the $2.3 million offer.

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