Future bright for Kennett Square, Kennett Twp.
Plans outlined for economic success of the borough and Kennett Township for the next decade.
KENNETT SQUARE >> The old NVF property, a 26-acre site located off Mill Road that was once on the SuperFund list for serious contamination of land, should play a major role in the economic success of the borough and Kennett Township for the next decade.
“It’s the key,” said Matt Fetick, Kennett Square mayor.
That was one of the recommendations by 4Ward Planning and RBA Associates in a final report Thursday night on the Kennett Region Economic Study. The report focused on six areas within Kennett Square and Kennett Township and represents a community vision of the type of development officials need for prosperity in the near future.
“The NVF site is the home run site for your town,” said Todd Poole of 4Ward Planning. “It is a nice future development site for something to happen there.”
Abandoned for years, the former industrial site was recently bought by the Delaware Valley Development Corp. George Beer, founder and president of DVDC, has presented several plans to the Kennett Square Planning Commission that call for a mix of residential and senior housing units. But a small portion of the NVF site is contaminated, preventing residential housing there.
In the study, the consultants focused on six core areas: the State Street corridor, the Cypress Street corridor, the area known as Miller’s Hill on the eastern border between the borough and the township, the Ways Lane area in Kennett Township, Birch Street from Walnut to Broad streets, the former NVF site and the area on the west side of Mill Road in Kennett Township.
Recommendations for the NVF site include promoting the development of 115 single-family duplex townhouses, 80 multi-family rental units in four mid-rise apartment buildings, and zoning the site for senior housing over a one-deck parking area. The report said the developer of the NVF site should explore developing an aquatic center with ties to Genesis HealthCare.
In addition, officials should craft an overlay zone to require new public open space of at least one acre on the NVF site. A movie theater, radio station or satellite campus for a school system, or a Google-type campus would be ideal there, the report stated. A store such as Trader Joe’s would make the area attractive, and borough officials could consider relocating offices to the NVF area.
The recommendation for Miller’s Hill is to seek resources to design, install and maintain a signature gateway landscape along frontage from the Cypress and State streets intersection to Walnut Street within the
next six months. Officials should evaluate zoning requirements for a potential business park and consider expanding the range of permitted uses to include hospice and medical or outpatient-related services. Officials should also consider illumination of sculptural elements there.
Ways Lane, on the edge of Kennett Square, should play a valuable role in future near-term development, the planners suggested. The area would be well suited for a “tiny house” village of 20 or more units, the report stated. It would also be idea for development of about 80 mixedincome singles and townhouses. Longwood Gardens could guarantee seasonal housing units to its workers. Ideally, this should begin in the next 18 months, the report indicated.
Birch Street could repurposed into an arts and cultural district. The Creamery will not survive on its own, and more needs to be developed around it. The report said officials would be wise to explore public art funding, and engage Longwood Gardens for curatorial voice and technical assistance. The Red Clay Trail should be signed and illuminated, and Birch Street should be considered a trail head. Zoning should be expanded to include multifamily residential, up to 100 units. Current industrial and warehouse buildings, work yards and parking lots should be repurposed. Borough officials should add the definition of a pop-up commercial operation to make Birch Street a fun area.
On State Street, walk ability and bikeability should be extended, drawing people all the way to Victory Brewing Co. at Mill Road. Big truck traffic should be eliminated and parking should be improved at Broad Street west to the Market at Liberty Place to make it safer. Businesses on State Street are already prospering, benefitting from the marketing done by Historic Main Street.
“You don’t have a recruitment problem,” Poole said. “You don’t have enough space to permit all the entrepreneurs that want to be here. I guarantee that if a shop goes under tomorrow, within two months, someone will fill that space. People want to be here.”
Poole recommended the area is ideally suited for an in-town museum or an urban anchor institution. The character of the town should remain without tearing buildings down along State Street. Finally, the tall-building overlay district should be extended the State, Cypress and Broad street corridors. This would allow more tall buildings in town. Also “craft distillery” should be a permitted use in the C-2 district.
On Cypress Street, officials should evaluate the possibility of a two-way cycle track for bicyclists and identify the location for 16 on-street parking spaces that would be displaced. Officials should seek funding resources to design, install and maintain seasonal plantings and street trees, perhaps partnering with Longwood Gardens.
“There is a great deal of room to grow the west end gateway,” Poole said.
All of this development, Poole said, could have an impact on schools, adding about 600 to 1,150 new students over the next 10 years. But the Kennett Consolidated School District could easily handle it. Poole said his firm is finishing up the fiscal impact analysis this impact.
The lack of parking in Kennett Square was identified as a huge problem. Poole recommended a parking garage be built in the western edge of town, near The Market at Liberty Place.
“Ultimately you will need structured parking in this borough, because you are running out of surface parking area,” he said.
A Vision Partnership Program Grant from the Chester County Commissioners, administered by the county’s Planning Commission, funded a portion of the $60,000 study. The remainder was funded by Kennett Township, Kennett Square, Historic Kennett Square, and Longwood Gardens.
Matt Fetick, Kennett Square mayor, addresses the crowd that gathered Thursday night at the American Legion Building to hear the final report on a comprehensive economic development study.