West Chester approves Activity Center sale for giant new Kroger store

West Chester Twp. trustees on Tuesday unanimously approved the $1.8 million sale of the township’s Activity Center that houses senior programming to clear the way for a giant Kroger Marketplace.

West Chester Plaza owner Regency Centers was the only group to submit a proposal for the Activity Center. The activity center acquisition would allow for a new 95,545-square-foot Kroger, and the grocery giant and retail center owners have even bigger plans to build a 117,166-square-foot Marketplace if other pieces come together.

The township is looking into retrofitting the basement of the Muhlhauser Barn with HVAC for the senior programming. Trustee Board President Mark Welch said officials don’t have cost estimates yet, but they could take proceeds from the sale of one nonperforming asset and enhance another.

“The way I justify any expense which would include fixing up the Muhlhauser Barn, if it’s $500,000 to fix that space up, then that’s a space that everybody can use,” he said.

RELATED: West Chester trustees to vote on Activity Center sale for new Kroger tonight

More pieces must come together for the Kroger Marketplace to materialize, including Regency purchasing the Providence Bible Fellowship church and property from Chesterwood Village.

Ryan Ertel with Regency Centers, in his letter to the trustees that accompanied the original proposal, said redeveloping the site would triple property values and increase the tax bill from $169,000 to more than $500,000 annually and double the plaza footprint to about 20 acres.

“It’s our unpretentious desire to upgrade this shopping center to a first-class retail destination so as to preserve Kroger’s presence at this location, enrich one of West Chester’s most discernible intersections, and afford our community with a new Kroger store and a fresh retail shopping experience — all while adding significant value to the tax base,” Ertel wrote.

Here are some of the concessions Regency Centers made at the township’s request:

• $50,000 in earnest money, up from a $15,000 deposit in the original offer

• The due diligence period was reduced from 18 months to 180 days, but three 90-day extensions can be requested at a cost of $50,000 each and those are potentially non-refundable under the terms of the deal

• Conditions were clarified on the right to terminate if Regency can’t secure the church property and a parcel from Chesterwood Village

The agreement states that if Regency is unable to secure the church property within 90 days, it can terminate the agreement with the township. After 90 days, the agreement can’t be terminated unless something adverse is discovered during the due diligence period, there is an issue with zoning or Kroger won’t sign a lease.

A church official previously confirmed it has “a team of guys that are working on that” but would not comment further.

Ertel told the Journal-News he can’t comment.

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