Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Community Matters – in and around Tredyffrin

Community Matters . . . in and around Tredyffrin

In one of the biggest property deals since the start of the global financial crisis, the Australian company Centro Properties Groups has agreed to sell its 588 US shopping malls to private equity giant Blackstone Group for $9.4 billion.

The local connection – Centro owns Chesterbrook Shopping Center and Valley Fair Shopping Center! I assume the existing retail leases in these shopping centers will pass with the transfer of sale. Many folks are looking forward to McKenzies Brew House restaurant plans for the old Charlie Brown location at Valley Fair Shopping Center. Here’s hoping that Blackstone will breathe new life into Chesterbrook Shopping Center and find a tenant for the empty Genuardi’s grocery store. And let’s not forget that this corporate sale could mean significant transfer tax revenue to the school district and the township!

In case you missed this one . . . in order to make shelf room for new products, the Pennsylvania State liquor stores is having special discount sale, starting today. Approximately 400 items have been marked down to clearance prices until they are gone.

Last night was the Board of Supervisors Meeting. Notes of the evening included Mike Heaberg’s swearing in as new supervisor by Judge Jeremy Blackburn; recognition of the 300th anniversary of the historic Baptist Church in the Great Valley and certificates of appreciation for volunteer service to Grace Keffer, Bob Haver and Molly Duffy.

By Board of Supervisors appointment, a Sidewalk Subcommittee was formed in March 2010 to look at resident’s wants and needs of sidewalks in the community. The process included public meetings, resident sidewalk survey, observations and discussion and Sidewalks Subcommittee chair Tory Snyder presented the findings and recommendations last night at the Board of Supervisors Meeting. (Here is a link to the recommendations). Surprising some of us in the audience, supervisor Phil Donahue made a motion for the board to accept the Sidewalk Subcommittee recommendations and move it to the Planning Commission to create a draft ordinance. Michelle Kichline seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. Hat’s off to the supervisors for this progressive, proactive show of support for the community! (As an aside, the Sidewalk Subcommittee Green Routes Network recommendation includes St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk in the plan.)

In addition to crafting a draft ordinance in regards to the Sidewalk Subcommittee recommendations, the Planning Commissioners is drafting an amendment to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance to give the Board of Supervisors final land development authority. Although there is a Public Hearing on land development authority scheduled for March 21, it was agreed there would be no final decision on that matter until after the sidewalk ordinance is resolved.

I was notified of a an updated ‘Best High School in Pennsylvania’ list and am pleased to report that Conestoga High School continues to receive high marks. Each year, “Newsweek” magazine ranks the nation’s top 1,600 high schools–that’s only six percent of all public high schools in the country. This ranking helps parents and educators set standards for themselves. In 2010, 33 high schools from Pennsylvania, including Conestoga High School, made the list. These schools received high marks from both “Newsweek” and “U.S. News & World Report.”

According to the 2011 update, “Conestoga High School is ranked as the No. 502 high school in the nation by “Newsweek” and as No. 79 by “U.S. News & World Report.” It offers more Advanced Placement courses than any other high school, public or private, in Pennsylvania, and had 37 National Merit semifinalists in 2010. . . “ Congratulations Conestoga High School and Tredyffrin-Easttown School District!

Speaking of Conestoga High School . . . the curtains go up tonight on the student production of Phantom of the Opera. The show will run March 1 – 6, click here for ticket information. Phantom is one of my all-time favorite musicals – best wishes to the cast & break a leg!

That is it for now. I look forward to your thoughtful comments and please email me at if you have news or thoughts to share.

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  1. ” (As an aside, the Sidewalk Subcommittee Green Routes Network recommendation includes St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk in the plan.)”

    I left the meeting last night wondering how this recommendation will affect St. David’s obligation to build a narrow asphalt path (not even a sidewalk, no curbing or stormwater maitenance) along Upper Gulph Road.

    According to Section 2(d) they can still request a waiver from the requirements of Section 2(a) and pay a fee in lieu of construction as in Section 2(b).

    Am I reading this wrong?

  2. Pattye, the Centro to Blackstone sale is great news! Thanks for reporting it. Centro has done an abysmal job promoting Chesterbrook and Valley Fair, which is puzzling given the favorable retail demographics our area offers. The Daily Local recently reported (and I think you featured this also) that Chester County has an extremely low unemployment rate, under 6%. Let’s hope Blackstone makes these distressed properties a priority.

    1. I don’t know why they were no on the agenda — must have been an oversight. Because reps from Paoli, Berwyn & Radnor all gave reports. Although apparently there has been discussion about the fire companies not giving future reports because JD asked Bob Lamina as chair of BOS, to reconsider and permit the reports. I must have missed the back story that there was discussion about taking the fire companies off the agenda — wonder what the reason woudl be? To shorten the meetings? Do you know?

  3. The sale to Blackstone is terrific – I have spoken to several business owners & managers in the Chesterbrook shopping center over the years and they ALL have complained about Centro’s policies, high rents, and poor communication.

  4. The transfer tax possibility would be nice if true. I wonder if all these US properties are in a separate corporate entity which is being sold, and if so, would that trigger the transfer tax? You’d think that the Blackstone guys would be smart enough to figure out a way not to incur what might be a large liability if many other jurisdictions have the tax.

    And it might not be good to hold our breath waiting for lower rents now that the operation is in private equity hands. I imagine they’ll take a hard look at the portfolio, weed out the bottom end, and invest in the good parts. That would more likely trigger the transfer tax!

    On the BOS reports: is there something going on here? Libraries report, but police and fire do not? Will next month be the reverse? I’ve noted before that the committee schedule has been decimated (tri-cimated?); is this part of the same thing? Does it reflect power within the BOS? The BOS are too busy to hear what’s going on now?

    I agree with the comment from a while ago: it’s just crazy to have a non-compensated School Board managing $100 million and our children’s future, while the BOS take their stipend and scale back….

    I will say, though, that in contrast Phil Donahue reported on Monday that the Finance Committee has stepped up its pace, and is working hard on the contract and budget challenges ahead. A good sign.

    1. Ray, you bring up a point I had forgotten from the BOS meeting. Phil Donahue announced that the monthly Finance Committee meetings will now be twice a month. Getting a handle on the finances earlier rather than late in the year is definitely a good sign!

  5. Thanks for the heads up about the Phantom of the Opera at Conestoga High School. Got a chance to catch one of the shows, and all I can say was WOW!!!

  6. We have seen a few of the productions over the years and my wife and I are extremely impressed with the high caliber productions. And it is no surprise that some of these kids go on to Juliard and other top schools of music.

    Very proud of the kids, and the teachers and parents who guide them.

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