Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Dinsmore & Stohl LLP

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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