Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Chesterbrook Shopping Center sold at auction for $8.9 million — Here’s hoping that there’s brighter days ahead!

Like many people living in the western section of Tredyffrin, I use Chesterbrook Boulevard to go to Gateway Shopping Center or Valley Forge Park, which has me regularly passing by the sad, nearly empty Chesterbrook Shopping Center. Developed in the early 1980’s, the Chesterbrook Shopping Center is located in the middle a planned mixed-use community that includes the Chesterbrook Corporate Center and the 865-acre residential community.

The 122,216 square foot shopping center lost its anchor store, Genuadi’s supermarket in August 2010. With the departure of the 40,000 square foot grocery store, the Center saw a significant drop in foot traffic and began a downward spiral as the empty storefronts continued. Routinely on the weekends, the left side of the parking lot at Chesterbrook poses as a used car location, regularly sporting 5 or 6 cars with their sale signs in the window.

In June of this year, the Center went into foreclosure – Chesterbrook Village Center Associates (owned by Brixmor Property Group) owed their lender approximately $9.5 million. As a point of record, Brixmor purchased Centro Properties Group in 2011 (for a price of $9.4 billion), which included the Chesterbrook Shopping Center. Each time the property changed hands; local residents would get excited, expecting that improvements and updates to the center would happen. Unfortunately, that was never the case.

About a month ago, a public notice of a receiver’s sale of Chesterbrook Shopping Center on Friday, November 1, was put up on the front door of Genuardi’s and elsewhere through the Center. According to the statement, the Center would be sold to the highest bidder. Real estate attorney Murph Wysocki attended Friday’s auction at the office of Dinsmore & Stohl LLP in Chesterbrook and generously provided the following update for Community Matters:

The saga of the Chesterbrook Village Center continues. On Friday, November 1, the Chesterbrook Village Center was sold to 500 Chesterbrook Boulevard, LP, the current lender, for a credit bid price of $8,918,291.05. That is the approximate amount of the mortgage debt held by 500 Chesterbrook on the Center. There were no other bids. Final closing and delivery of the deed should occur no more than twenty days after the sale, if everything proceeds as anticipated.

The public Recieiver’s Sale (foreclosure sale) was conducted by the Court–appointed receiver, Valley Forge Investment Corporation, at the offices of Dinsmore & Stohl LLP pursuant to an order of the United States District Courts of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

According to Richard A. O’Halloran, Esq., foreclosure counsel for 500 Chesterbrook, Valley Investment Corporation, the receiver, and 500 Chesterbrook, the lender and winning bidder, are not affiliated. Mr. O’Halloran also stated that 500 Boulevard was retaining its options for the Center, including owning and developing, or selling, and had not decided on proposed plans for the Center.

This most recent troubled chapter in the Chesterbrook Village Center saga may be coming to an end. But there is a long way to go. Let’s hope that this is a true start rather than another one of the many false starts we have seen for the Center. The ultimate developer will need to meet with Chesterbrook residents to openly discuss future plans for the Center.

The redevelopment of the Chesterbrook Village Center will be significant for the Chesterbrook community and Tredyffrin Township. The Tredyffrin Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and the developer should engage residents and business owners in the project approval process at each step. This is an opportunity for everyone affected to work together for community-friendly redevelopment that forges a new beginning for the Chesterbrook Village Center and benefits the residents of Chesterbrook.

Thanks Murph for attending the auction and providing this valuable information on the sale of the Chesterbrook Shopping Center; I hope that the Center is now on to a brighter future. Certainly, the property does present its own set of challenges and its dated look is screaming for a ‘makeover’ but it’s a goldmine redevelopment opportunity for a the right developer! Here’s hoping that there’s better days ahead for Chesterbrook Shopping Center and that it’s time has finally come!

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  1. Thanks to Murph for attending this meeting and keeping the community informed. I for one look forward to Murph’s being one of our township supervisors very soon so that our township leadership stays on top of this critical commercial space.

  2. Great to hear that there is some progress being made on the Chesterbrook Shopping Center. Every week I ask the people at Citizens Bank about any news of developments. Rumors have always abounded.

    I was puzzled by the local Democratic candidates claiming that they could get something going in Chesterbrook. It is my impression that the Center stumbled after shifting shopping patterns due to the success of nearbyTrader Joes and two Wegmans. The parking plan at Chesterbrook does not help either. Economics trumped politics on this one.

    A Produce Junction and over 55 Adult community would be great! Lower price produce and flowers plus new housing with low impact on the schools would be marvelous. An Adult Day Care Center could meet a growing need too.

    The current foot print of the Center does not work. On Saturdays the parking lot in the center section is full and most of the stores are vacant. Strange.

  3. Planet Fitness! A low cost monthly gym would do amazingly well compared to all the alternatives. Between the local population of Chesterbrook plus all the corporate offices it would rake in money.

  4. I would love to see trader joes move to Chesterbrook. It would allow for a bigger store and have a better parking situation.

    1. gateway shopping center = high visibility, high traffic, high occupancy

      Chesterbrook shopping center = low visibility, low traffic, low occupancy

      the market has spoken – chesterbrook village shopping center is a very, very tough place for retail and restaurant to make money.

      1. That’s actually not true. The previous owners of the Chesterbrook shopping center were very unfriendly to their retail tenants. They actually chased out the tenants by their actions. Genardi’s left because they were losing market share to recent supermarket arrivals in the region. But the other “mom & pop” shops were hit by outragious rent increases in that shopping center with much higher per sq foot than what shops in higher visible locations had.

        Look at all the corporate offices in Chesterbrook…don’t you think that lunch traffic alone could sustain the food establishments that have gone under there if it weren’t for the higher than normal overhead charged by the previous managment of the property. Look at how much easier it is to park and get in/out at lunch hours for those locations in Chesterbrook than in Gateway.

        But I go back to my original suggestion… a Planet Fitness would do very well at the old Genardi’s location. Between the corporate offices and local residents plus the surrounding community, a low cost per month gym membership would rake in money compared to all the high priced gyms in our area.

        1. The Chesterbrook tenants have been leaving en masse for far longer then the most recent owners have been in place. There hasn’t been stable occupancy in decades. Significantly higher turnover than any other shopping center in the area.

          If you are so certain that “a Planet Fitness would do very well” then you should open one – it is a franchise! Good luck!

  5. I work in Chesterbrook and I wish I could WALK to the Center. What were they thinking when none of the trails lead there…and then you have to cross a busy road. More sidewalks would really help! PRODUCE JUNCTION would be a terrific tenant, too!

  6. Location, Location, Location. Valley Fair has very high visibility on 202, but little “right turn access” and we all know that 3 or 4 stores have failed there…the major restaurant has changed names many times…Superfresh became Pathmark.
    There is ample land available for any of the stores you suggest…without hiding in Chesterbrook. The demographics of the area do not support major retail. Never did. Genardis did well there because when it opened, it was almost one of a kind….but then other Genuardis opened and Trader Joes….do you remember that Gateway’s TJ Maxx was once an Acme?
    Wegmans will ultimately empty ACME spaces too….the market does actually reward good choices…and ignores bad ones. We don’t have sophisticated taxes here — so tax relief isn’t an option. IF this was a good site for something, it would be there. If you shop at the places you mentioned, you can be an ambassador yourself and try to interest them.

  7. I am concerned about the Pathmark. I don’t know how they can survive as when I go there it is really quiet, at different times of the day/night while wegmans is just about always hopping. I like many of the employees at pathmark. I hope they will survive.

  8. Hi Everyone!

    Speaking of “Valley Fair”…..I worked at Valley Forge Music Fair from 1990-1997, as Executive Assistant to Shelly Gross, CEO and Owner of Valley Forge and Westbury Music Fairs. Just hearing that word, “Valley Fair” makes me really sad……remembering the incredible shows, and what a loss to the surrounding communities, as well as the
    local restaurants. I was living in the Valley Stream section of Chesterbrook, during those years, and LOVED my condo living!! Genuardi’s Supermarket was thriving then, and what a “treat” to have this store so close to me!! Although I now live on a horse farm near Collegeville, I sincerely hope that when this shopping center reopens, great business will return for the Chesterbrook residents!!

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