Kennett Square Borough approves zoning changes with an eye toward West State Street redevelopment
By Steven Hoffman
On April 6, 2015, StanAb, LP, a West Chester-based real estate development company, made a presentation to Kennett Square Borough Council about its vision for the Lofts of State Street, a mixed-use project that would bring nearly 200 luxury apartments, as well as some commercial space, to the 600 block of State Street in Kennett Square Borough.
The seeds for the Lofts of State Street project were actually planted even earlier than that. Kennett Square mayor Matt Fetick invited StanAb officials to a breakfast meeting in the spring of 2013 to encourage them to explore real estate development opportunities in the borough.
Now, more than six years later, the project may be gaining some real momentum. Kennett Square Borough Council recently approved zoning changes, by a 5-to-2 vote, that will allow for taller and longer buildings in the C-2 Secondary Commercial Zoning District along West State Street from South Washington Street to Mill Road, the borough’s western border. As a result of the zoning changes, the allowable height of buildings will increase to 55 feet and the allowable length of the buildings will be up to 400 feet. The zoning changes could pave the way for the Lofts of State Street project to move forward.
Kennett Square Borough Council president Doug Doerfler emphasized that this project, which would transform the western part of State Street that was once the home to two car dealers, would still need to go through the regular land-development process before it would be approved.
The interest that StanAb LP has in undertaking a large project in Kennett Square illustrates the borough’s ongoing revitalization efforts. StanAb LP was formed by Tony Stancato and Vic Abdala in 1995 after they had spent more than a decade building and developing single-family residential neighborhoods in central Chester County. StanAb LP has undertaken numerous high-end commercial and multi-family projects in the region, perhaps most notably the redevelopment of the former Woolworth's Department Store site in downtown West Chester. That redevelopment project featured a retail office strip center that was anchored by Iron Hill Brewery and office suites. The company also oversaw the development of the Green Tree Building in West Chester.
At the time of the initial presentation, Stancato noted that large projects like Magnolia Place and Victory Brewing showed how vibrant the borough is. He compared Kennett Square to West Chester Borough, which also benefited from a strong revitalization. He said that there was a need for additional luxury rental properties in Kennett Square, and a market study in 2015 supported that idea.
While borough council supported the zoning changes, some residents have been vocally and vehemently opposed to the project. There are concerns about the impact the project would have on traffic in the borough, especially with several large residential projects planned for neighboring Kennett Township. There are also concerns about the strains that population growth would place on the borough’s infrastructure.
Doerfler said that it was imperative for borough council to consider all the concerns that are raised by residents, and to keep the lines of communication open regarding the project.