Giant Kroger Marketplace still possible on West Chester site: What they’re saying

The West Chester Twp. trustees planned to sell the West Chester Activity Center on Cox Road but the deal fell through last year. Now Kroger and its landlord Regency Center appear to be resurrecting plans to build a giant Marketplace.
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The West Chester Twp. trustees planned to sell the West Chester Activity Center on Cox Road but the deal fell through last year. Now Kroger and its landlord Regency Center appear to be resurrecting plans to build a giant Marketplace.

Officials are doing a price check on whether the stalled Kroger Marketplace project at Tylersville and Cox roads in West Chester Twp. can be rejuvenated in the new world created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ryan Ertel, who is now a consultant for Regency Centers — Kroger’s landlord at the existing location — told the Journal-News talks with the giant grocery chain are ramping up after the deal fell apart last summer.

Things have changed drastically throughout the pandemic as businesses were forced to close due to strict health mandates and now everyone is trying to get the lay of land. Ertel said he should know more in about a month if negotiations can restart in earnest.

“We’re still exploring it, obviously there’s been some changes with the pandemic and we’re just trying to navigate that and figure out what the new world looks like,” Ertel said. “We’re interested in it.... The parties that were involved before still seem motivated to figure a deal out and that’s what everybody is trying to do.”

ExploreKroger Marketplace project canceled, for now, in West Chester Twp.: What we know now

There have been many moving parts and parties involved in trying to build a new 117,166-square-foot Marketplace. The deal was contingent on Regency Centers being able to acquire the former West Chester Twp. Activity Center on Cox Road, 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 agreed to sell the Activity Center — where programs for seniors and other groups were housed — for $1.8 million in September 2019. Regency requested an extension of its due diligence period to finalize the other deals last March, but cancelled the purchase agreement with the township last August. At the time Trustee Mark Welch told the Journal-News “basically Kroger is choking over the lease price.”

Regency had secured agreements with the church and the Dixon family that owns Chesterwood. The Journal-News has not been able to reach church officials for comment, but according to their website they already relocated to the Morning Star Baptist Church location on Summerhill Drive in West Chester. The county auditor’s website shows Providence purchased the property for $2 million.

The Activity Center has remained vacant but Township Administrator Larry Burks said while he has been in contact with Ertel, they have also gotten verbal quotes of around $100,000 to demolish the site in case the Kroger deal can’t be done.

“We might just go ahead and do that just to have it out of the way so we might be able to entertain more offers on the property,” Burks said. “Sometimes when people see movement or activity on the property and the old building comes down, it might spark a little more interest.”

Kroger officials would not confirm if there are renewed negotiations but Welch said he hopes they can eventually close a deal.

“I’m a big supporter of it, the township is ready, willing and able just like it was when we constructed our first deal with them,” Welch said. “We’d love for this to go through, we think it would be an addition to our community up there that they’ve wanted for a long time. We’ll work with them as much as we possibly can to get this thing done.”