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Brandywine Town Center, civic leaders agree to changes - Community News

Brandywine Town Center, civic leaders agree to changes

By Jesse Chadderdon
Community News
Posted May 27, 2008 @ 06:24 PM

Hockessin, Del. —
Community leaders and the Brandywine Town Center have agreed to a series of deed restriction changes that could lead to additional tenants. It will also preserve some open space around the perimeter of the 1.2 million square foot retail center.

The agreement, which amends deed restrictions drafted before the center opened in 1991, comes after more than a year of negotiations between Acadia Realty Trust, which owns the center, and several nearby communities. New Castle County Council still must approve the deed restrictions before they are officially implemented.

The changes would allow Acadia to find tenants for a 6,000-square-foot unutilized space under the large glass atrium in the middle of the center. That space, originally designated as a food court, has remained vacant since the center opened because of a cap on the amount of floor area the owners could lease.

In exchange, Acadia has committed that two of three restaurants planned for external pad sites near the center’s fountain will no longer be built. The third will be a Red Robin family restaurant.

Instead, Acadia will build a children’s play area there, with new walking paths that allow shoppers to easily walk between it and the front of the retail center.

“If accepted, the amendment will allow an increase of space available for tenants serving the community and also add community amenities including a playground, extended walking paths, and sound-proofing of the Community Center for improved acoustics,” said Acadia’s attorney Melvyn Monzack in an e-mail. “Nothing is intended to disrupt the character and path-forward of the neighboring communities, and we are committed to being good neighbors.”

Chuck Landry, president of the Council for Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred (CCOBH), said there has been a longstanding history of tension between the civic group and the Town Center that Acadia has done its best to resolve by agreeing to the new deed restrictions.

While CCOBH stopped short of endorsing the changes, Landry said the proposal was consistent with the organization’s vision for future growth in Brandywine Hundred.

“A lot of those hard feelings are still there and still run pretty deep, so it was very difficult for us to reach a consensus,” he said. “But the center is there, it’s real and it has to be dealt with.”

Charlie Oberly, former president of the Brandywine Hunt Civic Association, said he believed the agreement benefits both the Town Center and his community.

“They’ve agreed to help us out with some issues we’ve been facing, so as an association we’ve decided to be supportive of this,” he said.

Oberly said Acadia has agreed to take over the liability of a large storm water pond that sits between the center and Brandywine Hunt, and has also committed to financing the construction of gates and fencing around the community.

“Communities surrounding the Brandywine Town Center are evolving, and the proposed improvements to the Brandywine Town Center are intended to keep pace with that progress,” Monzack said.

Councilman Robert Weiner (R-Chatham), who helped facilitate the discussions, said the agreement was in the best interest of all involved.

“There were a whole set of components that didn’t work for the community, the tenants or the current ownership,” he said. “The center was a 1980s concept mall that made no sense the in 21st Century.”

Weiner said he believed construction of the playground would be crucial to bringing more pedestrians to the south side of the center.

“The goal is to make that part of the center more accessible,” he said. “It’s to try to compensate for poor design.”

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"Iíd like to express my appreciation to Councilman Bob Weiner who exhibits strength, determination and fortitude and is always on the side of the people. I followed Bobís actions when he was head of CCOBH's zoning committee and made strong efforts to try to stop the Brandywine Town Center construction. He has continued with energy and zeal in many pivotal positions in spite of enduring a lot of negative professional and personal attacks. I appreciate that he is never deterred."

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