A long-pending proposal to redevelop Waterloo Gardens and adjacent properties with upscale retail and restaurants and apartments is facing some crucial decisions by the Easttown Township Planning Commission. It is also facing a threat by a prospective tenant to withdraw from the project – known as Devon Yard – if neighbors who object to the commercial real estate development elect to appeal an approval of the zoning overlay map that is currently before the Planning Commission.
The developer has proposed building two upscale restaurants, retail spaces and an apartment building. One of the prospective tenants is Urban Outfitters. The project in its current form needs approval of a rezoning that is embodied in a new zoning overlay. A zoning overlay consists of changes to the City’s zoning map covering only a few blocks or acres. In this case, the developer wants an overlay that would permit construction of a 100-unit apartment building that is 50 feet high. The plan was recently changed to reduce the number of units from 125 to 100 and the height from 60 feet to 50.
Neighbors generally support the retail and dining features in the project, but they think that the apartment building is too big. At a recent meeting involving the developer, city representatives and tenants, the attorney for the neighbors read from a letter in which Urban Outfitters was quoted as threatening to pull out of the project if any party appeals the enactment of the overlay beyond the Board of Supervisors. No one knows if Urban Outfitters is merely bluffing. Its true intentions will soon be revealed, however, because the Board appears likely to approve the overlay, and the citizens have been constant in their threat to appeal this decision.
This case again demonstrates the tangle of conflicting interests that often accompany plans to redevelop older neighborhoods. Anyone involved in a similar controversy can obtain significant information from a consultation with a knowledgeable real estate attorney. An experienced attorney can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and real estate laws that govern the dispute and can also suggest tactics for maximizing the chances of a favorable outcome.
Source: Mainline Media News, “DEVON YARD: Residents’ lawyer says Urban Outfitters threatens to pull out of project,” Linda Stein, April 18, 2016