West Chester Activity Center sale could fund new roundabout

Building expected to house Guidepost Montessori School.

The co-owner of the Illinois-based development group that plans to buy the West Chester Twp. Activity Center says he doesn’t see any reason the deal won’t go through, and trustees are mulling how to spend the $2.25M purchase payment.

The trustees recently agreed to an agreement with Quattro Development to buy the property on Cox Road. The purchase price is $2.25 million — nearly the full asking price of $2.5 million that was set in January. This is the fourth offer the trustees have received, all previous deals failed.

Rob Walters, co-owner of Quattro, said the only thing that could possibly “derail” the sale is if they are denied a special use permit or other necessary approvals for the Montessori school. He said they plan some minor exterior upgrades but ”it’ll look almost look like a totally new building on the inside.”

Walters said they could open by the middle of next year.

“Most of the money is going to be spent on the inside because you are going to have the kids in there,” Walters said. “The programming that this group puts on is enough where they don’t need a Taj Mahal on the outside. We’ll probably do some painting, some new signage, some tuck pointing maybe redo the parking lot, those kind of things, but there won’t be a massive change to the outside.”

Walters said the building will be leased to Higher Ground Education to operate a Guidepost Montessori School, a company they have worked with on 35 other projects, “they analyzed the demographics of the area and decided it fit for what they’re looking for which is a more affluent type community with kids.”

Township Administrator Larry Burks told the Journal-News since the trustees rezoned the property to a commercial planned use development district to facilitate the sale there should not be any special permits required.

“It is my expectation that they are going to love being in West Chester,” Burks said.

All three of the trustees told the Journal-News — although no formal action has been taken — they would like to invest the sale proceeds in a new roundabout south of the Tylersville Road intersection.

“There’s a very good use of that money right there at Cox Road and Kingsgate and it would be a roundabout,” Trustee Mark Welch said. “Getting in and out of Kingsgate during any kind of rush hour scenario on Cox Road is just harrowing.”

Welch said he would be interested in investigating grant opportunities for the project, but acknowledged that always slows things down. That’s why they decided to pony up the $20 million for the diverging diamond overpass at Union Centre Boulevard themselves without outside financial assistance.

There haven’t been any cost estimates on a roundabout at that location but there is a relatively small roundabout at LeSourdsville West Chester and Millikin roads that cost $1 million a year ago, before inflationary pressures blew in.

Burks said if the roundabout is the preferred project they would work with Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens to explore safety grant opportunities.

“This being so close to a school might qualify really well for it, but I don’t know if there are enough accidents or injuries, the things they measure,” Burks said.

Trustee Ann Becker said she favors the roundabout idea but another priority would be to invest in the project to upgrade the U.S. 42 corridor. She said there could be money for both projects. The trustees are expected to vote on small business grants as part of that plan in a couple weeks.

“I would say the Route 42 project would be my top priority,” she said. “We haven’t started our conversation with the community yet and that’s important to me. Part of our strategic planning in August will be to lay out a date-specific timeline on that, so we’ll work out the more pertinent details on that. And we don’t have to spend all that money right now.”

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.

Dr. Mohamed Aziz offered to buy the property for $1.9 million earlier this year for medical offices but rescinded the offer when the trustees refused to drop the price $300,000 after he found how much he would have to spend on required upgrades.

The last deal fizzled three 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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