New Garden board votes to place PREIT request on hold
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust – commonly referred to as PREIT – came knocking again on New Garden Township's door on Monday night asking for a favor, but the township's board of supervisors politely denied their request – for the moment.
By a unanimous vote, the board decided table a request by PREIT to lift the age restriction of the planned 55-and-over residential component of PREIT's planned White Clay Point project, requesting that Township Solicitor Vince Pompo further explore the request and make a formal recommendation at the board's Aug. 10 meeting, before a final decision is reached.
White Clay Point is projected to be a 187-acre mixed-use project that will provide for 84 acres of retail space, 52 acres devoted to a town center and 51 acres dedicated to the construction of 83 single detached units. The residences are planned for the property adjacent to the Hartefeld development and golf course, near Sharp Road.
Speaking before the board, PREIT representative Chris Mrosinksi told the supervisors that if the township lifts the age restriction on future development, it would facilitate a quicker discussion with four real estate developers who have expressed interest to PREIT about developing the property. Mrosinski said that three of the four developers told him that unless the township lifts the age restriction ban, they would not "the right people to talk to right now."
"Two of the developers are waiting to find out the outcome of this discussion this evening, to see if they will go through a due diligence period to work through the process, talk with the township and figure out what the hurdles would be, but before they start that and spend money, they would want to know if there is an aptitude to lift that [age] restriction," Mrosinski said. "[Lifting the age-restriction] frees us up to a broader base of potential developers. Our focus is to get the residential piece [sold] in order to market it to a larger audience, and take it from there."
On the retail side of the White Clay Point project, Mrosinski said that there remains an interest from a few grocery stores and a movie theater to establish a footprint there, but the company is still working through how to get enough leasing done, in order to move forward on the project.
"That remains the biggest hurdle at this time," he said. "The bulk of the retail is still in a leasing phase, and not part of our immediate plans."
In other township business, the board approved the hiring of Steve Melton as the township's new roadmaster, at a salary of $50,400. Melton currently serves as an assistant foreman for Kennett Square Borough. He is expected to begin his new position in August.
The board voted in favor of retaining Ascela Partners as the township's health insurance broker, for a health insurance program that will be offered at a premium of $24,217.69 a month. The township provides health insurance to 22 full-time employees and several of their family members. The policy will be in effect from Aug. 1 to July 31, 2016.
New Garden Township Police Chief Gerald Simpson addressed the on-going burden the police department has in remaining in its temporary offices on Gap-Newport Pike, a modular, 2,100 square-foot connection of trailers
when we put that in place, it was a temporary patch to get us through to, 'What are we going to do [in the future]?'" Simpson said. "We try to make it work, but it doesn't work. We have 17 people working out of a 2,100-square-foot facility. It doesn't work. We have prisoners in that facility using shared bathrooms with our employees. That doesn't work. There are numerous issues about that facility that need to be addressed."
Simpson said that he, Scheivert and former supervisor Bob Norris will be meeting on Aug. 11 to discuss future housing options for the police.