Cannery Row project set to move forward in Kennett Square
● By Steven Hoffman
The Cannery Row project in Kennett Square is a step closer to a groundbreaking after a conditional-use hearing took place on Tuesday, Sept. 6. After the hearing, Kennett Square Borough Council unanimously approved a series of five waivers that move the project closer to final approval.
The mixed-use project, which includes retail space, office space, restaurant space, and luxury apartments, is planned for a 5.2-acre site in the southwest corner of the borough, near the corner of Cypress Street and South Mill Road. Most of the property—about 3.9 acres—is situated in Kennett Township, while the remaining 1.3 acres is in the borough on a parcel that is already zoned C-2. The site, which is in the area of Victory Brewing and Magnolia Place was formerly the home of SunnyDell Foods Mushroom Cannery. A fire took place at the site a decade ago and SunnyDell Foods subsequently moved its operations to Oxford.
Mary Ann Rossi, an attorney with the MacElree Harvey law firm in West Chester, assisted Mike Pia, Jr. with the presentation at the conditional-use hearing. Pia, the vice president of Kennett Square Realty, is serving as the agent for Cannery Row Properties, L.P., the developer for the project.
Kennett Square Borough Council previously approved a conditional-use plan for the Cannery Row project, but when the engineering work was completed, some changes were needed. Pia outlined some of those changes that have been introduced since borough council approved the original conditional-use plan.
The plans originally included four distinct buildings on the site—three in Kennett Square Borough and one, a large office building, in Kennett Township. The mixed-use project initially included 11,000 square feet of retail space and 3,000 square feet of restaurant space, as well as a three-story building with one floor of retail space and two floors of luxury apartments. According to the new plans, there will still be three buildings in the borough and one in township, but the sizes of the buildings have been changed slightly—overall, there is a slight decrease in the total square footage of the buildings. This will allow for more green space on the property.
For the entire site, there are 127 parking spaces included in the plans, which is what is required by the regulations of both the borough and the township.
Rossi characterized the changes that were made as being fairly modest in scope.
At one point during the hearing, she asked Pia, “Do you anticipate any more changes?”
“I do not foresee any more changes,” Pia replied.
Borough council unanimously approved the waivers. Council president Dan Maffei noted the council would have the opportunity to attach conditions to the project, if necessary, at the time the final plans are considered.
Pia said that the project is slightly closer to final approval in Kennett Township than in the borough. He also said that the site construction could get underway as soon as the plans are signed, and the building construction would start shortly after that.
In other business at the meeting, there was brief discussion about some zoning ordinance changes that could be proposed in the near future. Borough officials may take a look at its conditional-use process, and whether a more streamlined process is possible. Borough officials could also make changes to the lighting ordinance, which has some technical issues that need to be addressed.
Borough council approved the Special Event applications for the Homecoming Parade on Sept. 29 and the Halloween Parade on Oct. 30, and the Holiday Village on Dec. 3 and 4.
There was a lengthy discussion about a request for a demolition permit for a building at 515 South Broad Street. The borough's Historic Architectural Review Board wanted borough council to table the issue so that the request could undergo further review. Council initially agreed to the request, but during public comment, Patrick Taylor, a former council member who owns the property, expressed concerns that delaying the work created a serious safety issue as trespassers had been sneaking into the property from time to time. Taylor said that bringing the building down sooner rather than later was the only way to ensure that no one would get hurt in the building. Based on the safety concerns, council reconsidered its decision and approved the demolition permit—even though several council members were clearly reluctant not to allow the Historic Architectural Review Board the time it needed to do its work.
Mayor Matthew Fetick announced that the Borough of Kennett Square is looking for a borough resident to join the Chief of Police Search Committee that was recently established. Anyone interested in being considered for the committee should email Fetick at MayorFetick@KennettSquarePolice.org for more information.