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West Chester officials up in the air over courthouse sale

A piece of government-held real estate in West Chester has been up for sale since last year, but the crippled housing market has made the sale of the old, empty courthouse complex unwieldy for local officials. The Chester County board of commissioners has two interested bidders and wants public input on the property acquisition.

Two developers are competing for the complex. An initial bid of $4.2 million from Zukin Realty was countered with a $4.5 million offer from Two North High Associates L.P.

Officials had set an early June deadline for bids, but Zukin Realty attempted to slip in a new $4.8 million offer past the cut-off date. Commissioners are hesitant in their decision about whether to consider the late bid. Some officials say that acquiring another $300,000 through the sale may be worth letting the deadline issue fall by the wayside.

The board is going to ask area residents to help solve the problem. Board members feel there are three options, including considering the bids as they stand, setting a new and final deadline or allowing Two North High to counter-bid.

Price may not be the only factor driving the commissioners' hesitation. The developers' plans for the future of the old courthouse complex are also an issue it wants to sort out with West Chester residents.

Each developer has a separate plan for the government property. Two North High told county officials it wants to redevelop at least part of the area and tear down some of the existing structures. Zukin Realty is planning a complete rehabilitation project that would not sacrifice any of the buildings already standing in the 153,000 square foot area.

Source: philly.com, "Chesco commissioners ponder late bid for facilities," Kathleen Brady Shea, Aug. 11, 2011

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