Renovation of a one-story, plus mezzanine manufacturing facility.
Chester Charter School for the Arts (“CCSA”) previously operated out of a modified warehouse building and had students enrolled from kindergarten to 10th grade. The space presented significant limitations and due to its prior use as a warehouse, the interior layout did not adequately address the proper needs of a permanent school environment. Additionally, the building’s landlord would not renew the school’s lease. Understanding the demands for a quality academic and arts school that met needs of the community, CCSA needed to expand into a new facility that offered the space and amenities necessary to allow students to be successful while the school proceeded in a timely fashion to ensure students and enrollment were not disrupted.
Part of a larger initiative by Widener University to invest in its community, Becker & Frondorf worked with developer Teres Holdings to create University Crossings, a state-of-the-art mixed-use development adjacent to its Chester, PA campus. In addition to providing 70 new student apartment units and a 50-room hotel, the project includes 12,000 square feet of new retail and office space.
Lack of access to healthy food is a critical issue in Chester, Pennsylvania, where more than 15,000 residents do not have adequate access to a full-service supermarket. Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest nonprofit hunger-relief organization, sought to help residents of Chester combat this critical situation, by creating the country’s only not-for-profit grocery store called Fare & Square. Fare & Square, set to open in the spring of 2013, will be located in a community that is a USDA-designated food desert and has been without a grocery store for over 11 years. Commercial grocery stores have increasingly fled urban areas such as Chester due to higher operating costs and limited space, forcing residents to travel far distances for fresh food. Because of the severely distressed nature of Chester, the city had difficulty attracting healthy food retailers to the area, so The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), working with Nonprofit Finance Fund, stepped in to provide $7 million in NMTC financing to Philabundance. This financing allowed Philabundance to acquire and renovate an abandoned grocery store property and covered equipment and other start-up costs. TRF also provided a $1.3 million bridge loan made possible by Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative and federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative funds. This project has also attracted considerable philanthropic and private support, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Sunoco and Wawa. The Fare and Square supermarket will bring approximately 14,000 square feet of food retail space to Chester, offering a full range of food staples for purchase, all at below-market prices. The new store involves an innovative business model combining an emergency food pantry and a retail store that will, as Fare & Square grows, be introduced to other communities in need. Fare & Square promises several advantages for the community – access to fresh food, the creation of 30 permanent jobs, volunteer opportunities, and increased economic activity.