The WC Press Development Issue - January 2019

Page 9

All design work and renderings of 44 West are the property of Bernardon.

The patience and persistence of Eli Kahn pays off as 44 West goes forward

F

ive seconds. That’s how long it

takes a pedestrian to decide if he or she wants to continue walking down any given urban road based on the appeal of its storefront and restaurant commercial streetscape, according to Dr. Timothy Cassidy, a principal at West Chester architectural firm Bernardon. For pedestrians walking the streets of the borough, however, the corner at the intersection of Church and Gay Streets has become…. well, a bit less than appealing in recent years. Bleak and blighted, a large, empty building stood at one of the busiest intersections smack in the center of town, looming in stark contrast to the otherwise vibrant panorama of West Chester’s downtown scene—a sight that has probably caused many a pedestrian to make a less-thanfive-second decision to head in a different direction. But perhaps the solution to an impatient pedestrian can be found in a patient real estate developer. A very, very patient one. The patient developer in question here is Eli Kahn, and the streetscape

is known as Mosteller’s Corner, a spot less mission finally realized by Kahn, and with a history as storied and varied as his hard-fought vision is being brought the borough itself. Tracing back to the to life by Bernardon. So what the heck “First Block” of the West Chester bor- took so long? Kahn attributes it to the ough, starting off as a hotel called Cross previous “anti-growth council,” in a nutKeys all the way back in 1786, it has by shell. “We hadn’t had one in the previturns harbored Mosteller’s Inc.—once ous 27 years, and we haven’t had one the largest retailer in Chester County— since, but we had one then, and we had and eventually morphed into the local to wait it out,” he told us. “If you don’t government offices of the courthouse have a whole lot of patience, you’ll never complex. But for several years now, the make it in this business.” building has languished, and Kahn has revisited and revamped his vision for the prime parcel again and again in It’s been a long road; in fact the face of opposition—as well as The WC Press first talked a groundswell of steadfast supwith Kahn about this project porters. It’s been a long road; in fact The WC Press first talked with almost exactly four years ago Kahn about this project almost exactly four years ago for our January 2015 Real Estate issue. While there’s a certain level of tenacThe wheels were finally set in motion on October 16 of last year, when Borough Council gave final approval for the project, and demolition at the site began on December 7. The new project, dubbed 44 West, is a somewhat relent-

ity involved here, there’s apparently the ability to not play ball when holding out for what you feel is the right thing, too. Indeed, in a quote in the June 21, 2017 Daily Local News, Kahn said after a council rejection of one of several previous

JANUARY 2019 THEWCPRESS.COM

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