The WC Press - Spring 2022

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Kati Mac Floral Designs helps us celebrate the season of renewal in West Chester


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Letter

from the

Publisher

Dan Mathers shares some personal insight into this month’s theme

West Chester is one of those unique places in the world where we get to experience four distinct seasons. When you ask those who live here what it is about the region that they find so alluring, it’s this seasonality they so often cite. There are those who love nothing more than waking up to a blanket of freshly fallen snow, or folks who swear by falling foliage and the beautiful crisp air of autumn. Of course plenty of people appreciate the vibrant hues and aromas of a bright spring day, and there are even a few of us who clamor for sweaty summer afternoons cooking under the sun. And yet I don’t think it’s actually the fact of distinct seasons that’s so alluring; I think it’s the moments between. While our managing editor Kate Chadwick will disagree, (she did, after all, pen a love letter to fall in our October issue) I’d argue that for most autumn enthusiasts, it isn’t really the flannels and spiced lattes they adore — it’s the opportunity to escape those sweltering weeks of late August. Wouldn’t boots and fireplaces lose their appeal if you used them 12 months a year? But spring is different, isn’t it? The season itself embodies change. For me, spotting the first wild flowers blooming among the patches of sodden grass has always felt more like the beginning of a new year than any change of calendar. Spring is a time of birth and renewal, of reemergence and new growth. And that’s a theme we’re celebrating in this issue. In the spirit of new growth, we examine 44 West, the property whose proposal, design and construction captured the borough’s attention for years. We’ve all become exceedingly familiar with the building’s exterior and have undoubtedly spent time in the public space it overlooks at the corner of Church & Gay, so we are excited to offer an inside look at this new structure. Meanwhile, just up the street, there’s a Zukin Realty project debuting shortly that embraces the spirit of renewal, bringing new life to a four-story facade that’s stood tall on Gay Street since shortly after the Civil War. We take you into the property’s past, its current renovations, and examine Zukin’s intentions for the future. Our most deliberately spring-themed piece is about flowers, and in it we turn the lens on Kati Mac Floral Designs and the nonprofit foundation their business supports. Ultimately the story is much more about people and the great things they can achieve for one another when they find a cause in which they believe. And yet, seeming to stand in obstinate opposition to all this talk of change, the publication you currently hold marks 10 years since the first ever issue of The WC Press was printed. It’s a milestone achievement and one that could not have been accomplished without the incredible support this community has provided, from advertisers, to readers, and the people who’ve contributed content to these pages for the past decade. So I want to say thank you, genuinely, to everyone who’s ever read even a single story in my frivolous publication. You’ve made it possible for me to create my own narrative of renewal, and I hope this magazine has given you all something in return. Enjoy. –dan@thewcpress.com

The

Press PUBLISHER Dan Mathers dan@thewcpress.com

ADVERTISING MANAGER Nick Vecchio nick@thewcpress.com MANAGING EDITOR Kate Chadwick kchadwick@thewcpress.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Nazarena Luzzi Castro nazarenaluzzi.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Jesse Piersol jpiersol@thewcpress.com Danielle Davies ddavies@thewcpress.com STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Erik Weber @westchesterviews

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” –Pablo Neruda COLUMNISTS Becca Boyd bboyd@thewcpress.com Andrea Mason amason@thewcpress.com DJ Romeo romeo@thewcpress.com Kate Chadwick kchadwick@thewcpress.com Published By... Mathers Productions 1271 Phoenixville Pk West Chester, PA 19380 mathersproductions.com 610-299-1100 The WC Press is a monthly magazine mailed to more than 3,000 homes throughout West Chester, as well as being dropped off to about 100 locations in and around the borough. For a free subscription — digital or mailed — visit thewcpress.com.

Worth

Noting

Our no-nonsense table of contents

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#THEWCPRESS Our favorite social media posts from fans are getting printed

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MARKET FORECAST Your planetary predictions with a particularly local twist

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BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED Kati Mac offers room to grow for employees with special needs

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DESIGN DILEMMAS Our resident interior designer helps you upgrade your space

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MOVING UP AND MOVING ON Following up on 44 West

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HOME BECCANOMICS Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking

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UNITING PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE Checking out the Spence building renovations with Scott Zukin

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PHOTO HUNT Spot the five differences and win a Barnaby’s gift card

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SPRING HIT LIST DJ Romeo curates a list of songs you’ll be singing this spring

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@thewcpress #thewcpress Like and follow us on social media, then tag us in your posts for a chance get your work published here. Our favorite image each month () will earn its photographer a gift card to @barnabyswestchester

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@thistlebeperfectwc

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Market Forecast

Resident astrologer Kate Chadwick provides your planetary predictions with a particularly local twist Aries (3/21-4/19): Go Aries—it’s ya birthday. It’s also the beginning of a new astrological year (yes, it’s all about you). Shake things up a bit—without burning them down. Why not sign up for a league at Heyday Athletic and burn up some of that energy? Taurus (4/20-5/20): It feels silly advising a Taurus to relax—you bulls have elevated relaxation to an art form. But you might want to tackle some of the clutter that’s piled up. Then, schedule yourself a nice spa day at La Difference and commence chilling. Gemini (5/21-6/20) There’s no “i” in “team”—but there are two in “Gemini.” Coincidence? No. You’re always ahead of the pack, because hardly anyone can keep up with you. Work on collaboration this spring, like taking a jaunt with friends to Tilted Axes. Cancer (6/21-7/22) Your crib is your crab castle, and it may be time to make the switch to working from home permanent if you haven’t already. We’re not talking laptop on the kitchen table here, but a designated home office; get to Giunta’s Furniture for inspiration. Leo (7/23-8/22) You have “the urge for going,” majestic beast— boredom with where you are is firing up your wanderlust. Where to, though? Remember it doesn’t always have to be glitzy destinations; try Opa Taverna for a taste of Greece without the hassle. Virgo (8/23-9/22) You’re stuck between working on that relationship (or cultivating a new one) and a desperate need for alone time. Luckily, galleries accommodate both scenarios. Head to Visual Expansion to feast your eyes—whether solo or à deux. Libra (9/23-10/22) This spring is all about boundaries, lovely Libra. You need to set some limits, personally and professionally. Whether it’s a date or a zoom, set a specific amount of time, then put on your Artistic Eyewear shades and jet. Scorpio (10/23-11/22) You’re all about the spring reboot, inside and out. But don’t go overboard. As soon as it’s a game of deprivation, you bail. Don’t do “no sugar;” do “more veggies.” And despite the name, Colonial Meat Market has a killer produce section. Sagittarius (11/23-12/21) You’re not just emerging from hibernation, archer friends—you’re bursting forth. Let’s get some head-turning outfits together, shall we? Phineas Gage is also bursting—with new spring arrivals. Get some. Capricorn (12/22-1/19) You’ve been having an issue with a certain someone. Although you’d rather die than bring the drama, clearing the air is better than seething. Meet at Market Street Grill—it’s always crowded enough that slightly raised voices go unnoticed. Aquarius (1/20-2/18) Aries season always lights up your communication sector, water-bearer friends, so take that ball and run. Reconnect with out-of-hibernation friends over happy hour at Greystone Oyster Bar and listen as much as talk. Pisces (2/19-3/20) Your mind’s on your money this spring, dear Pisces. Since your car is one of your biggest investments, make sure it’s in tip-top shape with a tune-up and schedule an appointment at DARE today. –kchadwick@thewcpress.com

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Where You’re Planted Kati Mac offers room to grow for employees with special needs STORY: KATE CHADWICK PHOTOS: ERIK WEBER

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E

ach year, about one in every 700 babies is born with Down syndrome, a condition caused by an extra chromosome. While researchers don’t know just what causes it, they have determined that the age of the mother can be a factor, and that mothers over the age of 35 are more likely to have a baby with Down syndrome. Since I had my children at the ages of 41 and 43, this was something I was paying attention to. I’d also grown up with an uncle who had Down syndrome, my mother’s brother, Donald. He died when I was 15 but I have vivid memories of him. He lived with my grandparents his entire life. I’ve never met a more upbeat person. He would sit at the window and keep my grandmother informed of everything that was happening on their Southwest Philly street. While his intellectual abilities were profoundly limited, he had an excellent memory. Friends and family sent him cards on every occasion, which he treasured, and you could hold one up and he’d tell you immediately who sent it, no matter how long ago it had been. Similarly, you could show him a photo of almost everyone he’d

ever met, and he’d identify them. While he wasn’t much of a hugger, he would often find my grandmother wherever she was in the house and go up to her, stand very close, and sort of pat her. It was my favorite thing about him. While he was unable to work, there were also no real programs or support systems in place at that time for people with Down syndrome or their families. Fortunately, times have changed, both nationally and right here in West Chester.

Looking out the window of Kati Mac onto High Street. Emily is 25 and works at Kati Mac. “We met after Katie was born,” Colleen told us. “Elaine founded the nonprofit Chester County Down Syndrome Interest Group, CCDSIG. She started it when Emily was one; she found there was no support or groups, or even much information out there, so she went ahead and founded one. We were both on the board and are now good friends.”

Elaine founded the nonprofit Chester County Down Syndrome Interest Group... She found there was no support or groups, or even much information out there, so she went ahead and founded one.

The two women shared a vision, although they’d never discussed it: “Having a place where people with special needs could not only be trained and could work, but where they could feel super valued and feel part of a team,” Colleen said. “And then Elaine came to me just over a year ago and said ‘we have an opportunity I’d love to talk to you about.’”

Colleen Brennan and Elaine Scott are partners and co-owners of Kati Mac Floral Designs on High Street. Both have daughters with Down syndrome; Colleen’s daughter Katie is 14 and going to Henderson High next year; Elaine’s daughter

That opportunity was the flower shop. “Elaine came to me about Kati Mac, and although I’d been off the board for years, I was still active in the community,” Colleen told us. “We decided to do this personally. We spent six months research-

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ing the flower business and discussing whether we thought it would work for us, both as families and in the community. So, we started the transition, which of course involved talking with Ashlee and “Hey, are you up for this?” That would be Ashlee Smith, who has been with Kati Mac and its various changes for six years. She is the shop manager, lead designer, and official flyer of the plane. “And if she wasn’t up for it, we probably wouldn’t have done it,” Colleen said. “We needed an established presence and talent here; she’s flipped every single switch that has to be turned on or turned off in this place. We took over in June. Between June and December, I’d say we were trying to help her, when really Ashlee was just helping us all piece together how we were going to launch this whole idea.” For a while there, Ashlee was a oneman band, running the show after the pandemic. “I did bring back one of my assistants, and she’s still here,” Ashlee told us. “And then it was the two of us for a long time until Elaine and Colleen came

Emily Scott works at Kati Mac Floral Design, the shop where her mom is the co-owner, along with other members of the community with special needs. in. And we have a whole team now, which is just fantastic. From my perspective, as someone who went from just being a designer in a flower shop to having Elaine and Colleen walk in here and have this all up and running within six months has just been incredible, absolutely incredible. And it is such an amazing and positive environment to work in.” “While Ashlee was unbelievably gracious in staying on and being fully ‘I’m in,’ we needed to hire someone who could work with our employees,” Colleen said. “But working with them, as Ashlee would be, is something you’d have to be okay with and luckily for us, Ashlee was. Everyone who was in place here has been unbelievably willing to say ‘sure – we can make this work.’ We’re very fortunate.” The person they hired was Christy Rainey, who is responsible for the management and training of the four paid

Q&A with EMILY What is the best part of your job? My co-workers. What’s part of your work that you like doing best? Cutting off the stems and pulling off the leaves. Do you have a favorite flower? Yes! Pink roses. Is there a tough part of your job that you don’t like? No—I like all of it. What are you planning to do with the money you make? I don’t know yet. I’ve been saving it, maybe for a watch. What was it like to be on TV? Well, it was my first time. Do you think you’ll be on TV again? Yes, probably. If you weren’t working here, what would be your dream job? Anything with flowers! Sounds like you already have your dream job! Do you know how lucky you are? Yes. I know I am.

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employees with special needs and the two who are placed with the shop by transitional programs right out of high school. “Before I worked for Kati Mac, I worked as a full-time nanny,” Christy told us. “I left my job as a personal care assistant at a local school district to work as a nanny. When Colleen and Elaine approached me during their talks about this opportunity, I couldn’t say no!” “We did feel it was important to hire someone specifically to train and work directly with our employees and we’re so excited to say that we now have six individuals with special needs working here,” Colleen added—among them, Emily Scott. “Christy works with them, trains them, helps them clock in and clock out. We have two ways in which we can have people in the shop working: hiring them outright, or through these special transitional programs to provide training.” Christy was also new to the flower business. Given that processing flowers is a large part of what the employees do, “I had to learn a lot about flowers so that I could train the incoming employees. During that

process, I developed a newfound love of flowers. I don’t design, I’m not an artist, but I can do everything else flower related! I’m also learning a lot about running a small business, something I’ve never been involved with before.” According to Ashlee, however, Christy has become an asset not just in her own duties, but in shop duties. “Christy, who was brought in to do a specific job, has thrown herself in completely and now helps in the shop all the time,” Ashlee said. “She recently set up a wedding with me!”

All of the six individuals with special needs are part-time — some because they have other jobs! Christy says her job is both rewarding and challenging, but she clearly loves it. “The challenging part is figuring out which personalities work best for specific tasks. And the most rewarding part is when they walk in the door! They always show just how happy they are to be here at Kati Mac.”

From left to right: Co-owners Elaine Smith and Colleen Brennan; Christy Rainey who manages the employees and trainees with special needs; and Ashlee Smith, Kati Mac’s shop manager and lead designer. Once they realized that this venture was a go, Elaine and Colleen formed a new nonprofit, The Kati Mac Education Foundation, which supports the flower shop. So, if you buy flowers here, you’re supporting the work of the foundation. “All of the six individuals with special needs are part-time—some because they have other jobs!” Colleen said. “They are some of the busiest people! Christy works out all of the shifts; we wanted to start out small but that could change over time. I couldn’t be prouder of the fact that we have people with special needs working here all the time. I really do think that this marriage of flowers and people with special needs is just so great.” There were a lot of practical matters to be taken into consideration right from

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the beginning. “Retail is so different from my previous career,” Colleen said. “When I left my previous job at 5pm, my day was over. This is constant. And goal number one is to stay here!” Colleen said. “So, we have to keep costs under control, because the goal is to make this work in the long run. And it’s expensive. Flowers are expensive, and I feel very strongly about having talented people here, so that means a healthy payroll. So, we try to cut costs where we can.” And they hit upon a genius idea. People were asking both of the women what they could to help. “Friends of mine, acquaintances; so many people say, ‘how can I help?’ It took us some time to figure out a way for all of these people to help us and finally it was like ‘What about deliveries?’ So, deliveries it was. We deliver flowers every day. And all of our deliveries—all of them—are done by volunteers. For instance, I’m delivering today. We use a program called SignUpGenius for every day except Sunday, when we are closed. And if we don’t fill all of those slots, it’s Elaine or me. We have also reopened on Mondays, and I come in on Mondays and process flowers with a friend because it’s usually everyone else’s day off.” Kati Mac is still, at the end of the day, a full-service florist, says Ashlee. “Weddings, proms, Mother’s Day, deliveries, etcetera,” she told us. “We have also started the transition in the front of the shop to a little bit more of a gift shop. We used to be focused fully on flowers; now we keep a ton of plants in stock, and locally made candles, honey, and prints by local artists. We’re trying to keep everything community-based, including getting flowers from local growers and farmers when we can. The local community is totally our focus.”

I feel very strongly about having talented people here And now that things are slowly returning to as normal as it’s going to get for a while, the shop is picking up steam as well. “Especially when the weather warms up, people are buying more flowers,” Ashlee said. “Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are of course our busiest times, and there always seems to be a prom on Mother’s

Kati Mac has potted, planted and freshly cut floral arrangements and individual plants available. Day weekend, and sometimes even a wedding, which is kind of a double shot. Just this month it’s really picked up and we’re so thankful. Plus, people in the community are starting to realize we have more to offer than flowers.” The inclusion of employees with special needs sets Kati Mac apart, but the supportive environment really goes beyond that. “I have no problem envisioning our employees doing anything else in the shop,” says Ashlee. “It’s no different to me than hiring a college kid. Some are better just processing flowers, others might want to move into designing, others with customer service. The lesson here is that anyone with special needs can potentially work anywhere.” That sentiment is music to Colleen’s ears. “I can’t tell you how great Ashlee’s comment makes me feel as the mom to a child with special needs. You don’t want your child automatically relegated to ‘okay

you can bag the groceries or sweep the floor, but that’s it.’ You want your child to be able to grow and have opportunities. We are so lucky to be able to provide that here.” When I was in my twenties and living alone in Lancaster, PA, one of my favorite things to do every Friday was to visit Central Market, the farmers market in the middle of town, and buy myself a bunch of flowers. In my thirties and in full-on DINK territory, my then-fiancé and I bought a house in Ardmore, and my Friday flower spot became the farmers market in Suburban Square, or occasionally the original Carlino’s location. These days—divorced and supporting two kids—I had to kick my Friday flower habit and ax it from my budget. But a couple of Fridays ago, I bought myself a gorgeous bouquet at Kati Mac after meeting with them for this story. And my purchase not only beautified my environment, but it went towards supporting an excellent cause. I love it when that happens.

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Design Dilemmas Andrea Mason of Andrea Mason Design is a professional interior designer who wants to help you upgrade your space

Constantly evolving, the design world keeps us on our toes with both fresh ideas and repeated styles with a new twist. This year has many exciting interior design developments, and these are just a few that might help elevate your next design project... Browns: Brown color palettes are having a major resurgence. People have spent years with the white and gray wall trend and are looking for something warmer and cozier. Browns add a comfortable element to a home, reminding us of nature and the outdoors. Think dark chocolate brown walls, caramel tufted leather sofa, or lightly colored tan silk pillows. Biophilic Design: Biophilic Design is connecting people with nature. We are all craving that relationship with the outdoors because of its benefits, such as less stress and clearer minds. Bring in as much natural light as possible and introduce natural materials like a jute rug or seagrass baskets. A beautiful floral wallpaper or graphic pillow and potted plants will do wonders for your mental health. Bold Patterns and Colors: One of my favorites of 2022 is saying goodbye to muted and white rooms and introducing more color and patterns. I suggest starting with one room and then moving onto the next, introducing a new color or even patterned wallpaper. Florals, geometric patterns, toile, or texture like grasscloth; we are seeing it all. This can also be in your furniture and decor, like a check pillow or green sofa. Plaster: You are probably the most familiar with textural plaster application on walls. Plaster can also be found on furniture and accessories, creating an uneven, organic appearance. It’s a great way to introduce a new material to a space. Lamps and chandeliers can be made in plaster or furniture like a gorgeous coffee table, and even smaller decor pieces like candlesticks and planters. Just another wonderful way to add interest to your next project. Antique Shopping: One of the best things you can do when shopping for furniture and thinking of our planet is to go antique shopping. Giving furniture a new home and reusing instead of buying something new is sustainable shopping at its best. Vintage pieces are timeless, and they are usually built well (most likely the reason why they are still around). I also really love how antiques tell a story and give something extra special to a space that you can’t find anywhere else. They are truly one of a kind. There are also a few things we will be seeing less of this year. Your all-white walls will be splashed with more color. Open floor plans will be replaced with more private spaces. Thoughtless decor will now be replaced with careful and meaningful design, with an emphasis on making sure everything has a purpose. If you ever need assistance implementing these designs, I’m here to help! Visit my website for more information on my design services: andreamasondesign.com –amason@thewcpress.com

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&

Moving

Moving

Following up on 44 West story by Jesse Piersol photos courtesy Bernardon

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n the last issue of this magazine, I waxed romantic about the stunning sunset view that illuminated my meal in the dining room of Sedona Taphouse. At the time, I couldn’t imagine any better vista of downtown West Chester. Yet here I am, four floors up in the 44 West building, gazing out across the rooftops of Church Street all the way to the edges of West Bradford Township in the distant skyline.

wanted windows as large as possible, to capture all of the borough from the outside into the inside.”

Maximizing this expansive vista was a goal of the 44 West project from the beginning. “The design is all about being totally transparent,” explains Neil Liebman of Bernardon, the architecture firm responsible for the design of the exterior building and landscape, as well as the interior lobby and common areas. “We

Anyone motivated to go on a casual tour of 44 West should be forewarned— there’s no waltzing into this place to explore. Just inside the main entrance a coded security pad controls access beyond the foyer. And it is not just physical barriers that prevent access; most of the tenants of 44 West declined to

With the lobbies, the concept was also to bring the outside in. “The building has more of an industrial feel,” he describes, “with all the brick and the tall windows, like a factory. We took that concept to the interior design, using reclaimed wood and exposed structures as the inspiration.”

You’ve probably looked at this revolving door from the other side a dozen times. Welcome inside the lobby of 44 West. speak with us at all. Thankfully, one company welcomed us with the enthusiasm and hospitality befitting their topfloor status in the coolest building in town.

The Penthouse At 10:00 on a sunny winter morning, Ted White’s office is bathed in natural light pouring in from the vast bank of windows flanking the north and west corners of the room. White is President and CEO of Verrica Pharmaceuticals, a

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publicly traded medical pharmaceutical company that develops treatments for dermatological diseases. Verrica was previously headquartered in the 10 North High Street building. When he first heard about the 44 West project, White called his friend Eli Kahn, the developer. “I said, ‘we want in on that,’” White recalls. “And I told him we want the top floor, of course.”

“We wanted windows as large as possible, to capture all of the borough from the outside into the inside.”

doesn’t look like a medical facility,” White says. He describes instead the experience of an upscale boutique filled with illuminated shelves that showcase all manner of products to support the quest for beauty. Verrica worked with commercial space planners to craft a space that addressed their needs and reflected their identity. The company’s colors— blue and purple—are echoed throughout the space. Subtle wisps of purple grace the marbled gray flooring.

-Neil Liebman

Chris Hayes, Verrica’s General Counsel, had previously worked with local fabricator Andrew MacLaren, and they looked to him for much of the interior design, including the furniture, walls, lighting, and blinds.

In the dermatology field, image is everything. “You walk into any dermatologist’s office these days, and it

“Andrew told us to go check out the remnant yard for a piece of granite,” White relates, and indeed—they found an exquisite beige specimen marbled with turquoise and purple that now

Verrica Pharmaceuticals corporate offices occupy the top floor of the building, and their lobby offers rare views of the downtown. serves as the tabletop in the executive conference room. Long benches in the conference rooms serve as both storage and seating. In one such room is centered a table whose vast dimensions inspire the mind to puzzle out how it made its way through the doors and hallway to its destination. “I dare you to find a seam,” White challenges (I can’t). He flips a switch under the table and the “V” in the Verrica logo lights up. Security is built into the design of 44 West, and it extends into the choices made for individual tenants. In Verrica’s case, the medical pharmaceutical business is subject to strict regulations that needed to be accommodated in the

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design of the new office. “It’s a big deal,” he explains. “Our old office on 10 North High Street had a full-time security guard. We need certain requirements, such as sprinklers in the filing room where records are kept, security of records, and per-level security of elevators.” Location is key to image, and that applies to the types of businesses that also occupy the building. “We didn’t want any medical professionals in the building, because then we would have patients stopping by to shop for products or looking for services.” (44 West is also leased by marketing and investment businesses.) Over the course of his 30-year career, White has had opportunities to work and live anywhere in the world, but he’s never wanted to move anywhere else. A resident of West Chester, he believes it is

“The building has more of an industrial feel... with allthe brick and the tall windows, like a factory. We took that concept to the interior design, using reclaimed wood and exposed structures as the inspiration.” -Neil Liebman

essential for him to locate the business in the community. “It’s a one-stop shop for going out,” he says, calling out Market Street Grill, Benny’s, and Carlino’s as frequent lunch destinations, as well as Pietro’s Prime and Mercato for corporate

The building’s shared areas offer recessed lounges with sweeping views of the borough. dinners. The location supports the local economy, too. “It helps local businesses because we’re patronizing them,” he says. “People are getting haircuts. They’re getting their nails done here.”

Space for Everyone 44 West is about more than just what goes on inside its walls, though. Ted White is looking forward to making a platform in the plaza courtyard for viewing West Chester’s renowned parades. Additionally, Eli Kahn mentions Sedona Taphouse and the soon-to-open LaScala’s Fire for “adding a tremendous vibe to the streetscape.”

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“We made a decision not to construct the additional 80,000 square feet of space we were permitted to build. I doubt very much another developer would make such a sacrifice... I’m happy we changed course.” -Eli Kahn There is a deeper meaning for this outdoor space. In the January 2019 issue of The WC Press, Kahn described how the project would be a tribute to his late business partner, Jack Loew, who died in 2014. Today, Kahn points to the feature that most reminds him of his friend. “I think

Jack would have gotten great joy watching little kids be fascinated with the fountain that bears his name,” he says. “The building, and especially the plaza, turned out exactly how we thought it would. The plaza is an amazing amenity to downtown West Chester, and I get great joy seeing people using it and enjoying the fountain. Jack is somewhere up there, smiling.” Neil Liebman concurs. “44 West went through five or more different designs,” he relates. “There was a fivestory office at one point. There was a mixed-used building with condos.” And the plaza almost didn’t happen. “This was a unique project that had a lot to do with commemorating Jack,” Kahn explains.“We made a decision not to construct the additional 80,000 square feet of space we were permitted to build. I doubt very much another developer would make such a sacrifice, given

Verrica’s distinctive logo is clearly visible from the street outside, and from inside the views of sunset are absolutely stunning real estate values in West Chester. I’m happy we changed course.” Liebman shares his own emotional moment when strolling past the building with his wife. As they posed for a photo, he was reminded of how Jack Loew, also his mentor, had helped him start his own business more than 30 years ago. “44 West is a transformation of the borough. If you read through borough ordinances, they require you to build to the edge of the property,” Liebman says. “We created this pocket park and exterior space so that all the people who visit West Chester could take advantage of a space that didn’t exist before that building was built.”

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Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking on her blog at homebeccanomics.com

Beccanomics

Winter fat is a very real thing. It’s widely practiced and generally deemed acceptable; a little extra to keep you warm, hidden behind roomy coats. Today, with skorts making a serious comeback in the upcoming warmer temps, it’s time to get real. These two recipes work as a meal and I assure you, taste nothing like “health food.” Great news: nutritious eating doesn’t make you sad if you do it right. –bboyd@thewcpress.com Lemon Rosemary Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs serves 4-6 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or thighs, trimmed of excess fat pressed 1/2-1 tsp. kosher salt 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary 1/2 tsp. black pepper Juice and zest of 1 lemon 2 Tbsp. avocado or olive oil 1 Tbsp. Butter 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dry chicken with paper towels and sprinkle skin side with salt and pepper (reserving half for the second side). 2. Heat oil in stainless steel, oven proof skillet/fry pan over medium high heat. 3. Add chicken, skin side down. Do not move chicken. Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. When chicken is deeply golden brown and has released from pan completely, flip to second side. Let cook until lightly golden brown. 4. Move pan to oven. Bake for about 20 minutes or until meat registers 170 degrees. Remove from oven and remove chicken from pan to plate. 5. Add garlic and rosemary to pan and cook over medium heat while whisking until garlic is fragrant. 6. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, zest, and butter. Whisk until cohesive and serve immediately with chicken. Warm Grain Salad w/ Walnuts, Greens & Dried Cherries serves 6 1/2 c. walnuts, roughly chopped 1 c. millet or quinoa 2 c. water 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided 1/2 c. dried cherries 1/2 c. olive oil 1/4 c. champagne vinegar

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard 1 Tbsp. honey 1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 (5 oz) container baby spinach and kale, sliced 1/4 tsp. black pepper

1. Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium low heat, stirring

occasionally, until fragrant (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. 2. Toast millet or quinoa in dry saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it smells nutty. Add water and 1/4 tsp. of the salt and increase heat to high. Cover. Once boiling, reduce to simmer. Cook, covered, about 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Take off heat, remove lid, add cherries, and cover. Let sit five minutes. 3. Meanwhile, whisk olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey in a large bowl until well blended. Add onion and garlic and stir to combine. Let sit five minutes. 4. Add greens, grains, cherries, walnuts, plus salte and pepper. Stir well to combine. Serve.

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THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


UNITING

PAST PRESENT FUTURE Story Jesse Piersol Photo Erik Weber

Checking out the Spence Building Renovations with Scott Zukin

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© Padula Media

S

tepping through the threshold of 29 East Gay Street, the visitor detects smells of fresh lumber, drywall dust, and forward momentum in the air. A man on aluminum stilts smooths a trowel across the upper reaches of a wall in the first- floor stairwell. The whirring of saw blades and popping of nail guns reverberate from the upper levels of the building. Soon, the drop cloths and construction materials will disappear, replaced by gastronomes lingering over their meals and libations at the as-yet undecided restaurant that will occupy this space. Scott Zukin gestures toward the long left wall, using his hands to frame the outline of an imaginary bar that might run the length of it. Zukin, of Zukin Realty, is the developer behind the ambitious project. “I’ve been in the business long enough to know what types of features appeal to them,” he says of prospective restaurateurs. He envisions a room in the back for hosting private parties, or even the kitchen, or a downstairs area suitable for a kitchen as well. Currently in talks with several prospective tenants, he is

being careful about making the selection, because he doesn’t want this eatery to compete with any of his other tenants, and he wants to diversify the downtown’s ever-expanding culinary scene. The restaurant will continue the Spence building’s long legacy. Its original owner, James Spence, was an accomplished entrepreneur and restaurateur who descended from a family of enslaved people. Both he and his establishment, which he took over from his grandparents, were extremely popular in West Chester; the eatery was renowned for the quality of the food and known as a popular gathering spot. James Spence was the first African American in Chester County to own a liquor license. While the restaurant portion of the project is certainly exciting, it’s just one component of the renovation that will invigorate this historic building, built circa 1890, into a centerpiece of the downtown West Chester experience. Eleven unique one- and two-bedroom apartments will combine modern design with the building’s rich history.

Preserving the Past Zukin had originally imagined replacing the exterior’s crumbling stucco façade with white brick, similar to the exterior of the Side Bar building across the street. When they began peeling the stucco away, however, they discovered the original sandstone façade underneath and shifted gears to repair and restore as much of it as possible. The texture of the sandstone complements the curving shape of the doorway and the first-floor window wells. Old buildings tend to be quirky. One of this structure’s quirks can be seen when looking at the front of the building from Gay Street, where it’s impossible not to notice that the left side and right side have two different floor heights. Unfortunately, the façade on the left side was too far deteriorated to salvage, so Zukin plans to use wood for that portion. Some features, like the staircase and its stout wood handrails, are all original. Other features seem original, but are actually new, like the small balconies that protrude from the apartments overlook-

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THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


circa 1949 In this photo, where you can see Spence off to the left, the right of the picture shows a sign for a celebration of “West Chester’s Gigantic Sesqui-Centennial Celebration” — that’s 150 years... and about 75 years in our past.

circa 1975 To the far right is the post office, but in from that is Thatcher’s Pharmacy, the business run by Stan Zukin that was the basis for all his family has since built in this town. Next to that is Benny’s Pizza — yes, same pizza, different location.

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© Erik Weber

FAR FROM FINISHED The building has come a long way, and excitement for its completion is mounting. But the reality is it’s far from finished. This bare-bones ‘before’ entryway will be converted into a beautiful, modern ‘after’ restaurant before the project wraps up.

circa 1920 Sure, it’s not a great picture, but what can you expect from an image that’s more than 100 years old?

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Join Church Farm School on Friday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m. for our spring fundraiser, Night at the Track!

• Custom cocktails and wood-fired pizza by 13th Street Cocktails

This horse-racing themed evening under the stars on the school’s historic campus honors the rich equestrian heritage within Chester County while fundraising for Church Farm School’s new all-weather track for its scholar-athletes. Night at the Track is being held in conjunction with Alumni Weekend 2022.

• Derby-themed costume contest

• Derby N’ Dance Party by Mr. B Entertainment • Lawn games • Derby-themed food by Sodexo • Music by the CFS Singers acappella group • Remarks by CFS students and faculty

LEARN MORE & REGISTER TO ATTEND AT 42

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH

gocfs.net/gala


ing Gay Street. They are perfectly sized for a pair of modest chairs and a book, or an afternoon of people watching. Their design and wrought iron railing echoes that of the second-floor balcony that once spanned the width of the building.

© Padula Media

Planning Ahead “Historic buildings are exempt from certain modern environmental design standards,” Zukin says, “but we still implement them because it’s the right thing to do.” In one of the apartments, the studs weren’t thick enough to permit using the most energy efficient insulation, so they supplemented the traditional insulation with spray insulation to improve that energy efficiency. With its classification as a historic building, there are no elevators, nor are there amenities such as a swimming pool or fitness center in the building. “It’s city living,” says Zukin, “so it’s not for everybody.” That said, he doesn’t envision any particular “type” of tenant living here. So far, he has had as many inquiries from people in their 50s as he has from young professionals. The largest apartment of them all is on the top floor. It also has the highest ceiling. Zukin says they initially investigated the possibility of making that apartment bi-level, but there wasn’t enough room. Instead, they blew out the old ceiling and followed the roofline, giving the space an expansive, modern feel. Combined with the fourth-floor view of Gay Street, this is truly the penthouse space. One of the features that Zukin could not change was the building’s slate-shingle mansard roof (a style of four-sided roof, with each side having two separate pitches). And so, he capitalized on the requirement by creating two rooftop terraces nestled next to the roof and dormers. These areas are accessible to everyone in the building. One side looks out toward the Chestnut Street parking garage, and eventually, toward the hotel that Zukin is building next door, while the other side overlooks the western skyscape. These top-floor terraces meld the old with the new and offer residents evenings watching the sun set or mornings of watching it rise, participants in a present-day reimagination and renovation—one of many to grace this ever-evolving town.

© Padula Media © Erik Weber

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Does anything say “Spring” more clearly than a garden bursting with color? If you can spot the five differences hidden within these tulips, email your answers to contests@thewcpress.com and you’ve got a chance to win a Saloon 151 Gift Card.

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Spring Hits List DJ Romeo curates a list of the tracks you’ll be singing all month long The following is a list of songs that will take over the radio stations in the next few months. You’ll soon know them by heart and play them ‘til they’re tired. And, you can now stream the list in its entirey at: www.thewcpress.com/playlist @DJRomeo24 | www.DJRomeo.fm

Escape - Kx5 (deadmau5, Kaskade) ft. Hayla Dancing Feet - Kygo ft. DNCE The Last Goodbye - ODESZA ft. Bettye LaVette COMPLETE MESS - 5 Seconds of Summer Follow - Martin Garrix & Zedd Waterfall - Disclosure ft. RAYE The Joker And The Queen - Ed Sheeran & Taylor Swift Redlight - Swedish House Mafia ft. Sting Sweetest Pie - Megan Thee Stallion ft. Dua Lipa Attention - Omah Lay ft. Justin Bieber Closer - Saweetie ft. H.E.R. iPad - The Chainsmokers West Coast - OneRepublic Drive Away - Krewella Numb Little Bug - Em Beihold Used To Know Me - Charli XCX She’s all i wanna be - Tate McRae Bam Bam - Camila Cabello ft. Ed Sheeran Clap Your Hands - Kungs Bones - Imagine Dragons It’s A Killa - FISHER ft. Shermanology Tom’s Diner - AnnenMayKantereit Freaky Deaky - Tyga x Doja Cat Don’t Forget My Love - Diplo ft. Miguel House On Fire - Mimi Webb Good Luck - Mabel ft. Jax Jones & Galantis Fair - Normani Ghost Story - Carrie Underwood Boyfriend - Dove Cameron Say Nothing - Flume ft. MAY-A

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