Friday, September 4, 2015

Will would-be Sen. Coons end PA builder's DE class war?

Would-be Senator Chris Coons tries to broker a deal between a rich PA developer and his wealthiest constitutents

Will would-be Sen. Coons end PA builder's DE class war?


If New Castle County Executive Christopher Coons (D) beats Christine O'Donnell (R) for the US Senate seat they covet in Delaware's fall election, he'll face big ugly factional fights and furious negotiations.

Just like another day at the office: Coons today said he's brokered a compromise offer by Bala Cynwyd developer Stoltz Real Estate Partners after Vice President Joe Biden's neighbors in Greenville and local Republicans led by County Councilman Bob Weiner raised a furious reaction to Stoltz's extensive development plans.

While "it is generally appropriate for me to stay neutral while a land development plan moves through the detailed county review process," Coons said he got involved in negotiations to avoid threatened lawsuits. "I am happy to announce that after several meetings with representatives of the community and the developer, Stoltz Real Estate Partners has agreed to revise its plans for Greenville Center and Barley Mill Plaza by reducing the building heights and densities":

1) Stoltz says it will cancel plans for a high-rise tower and parking garage at the tony Greenville shopping center, building only a two-story building and a bank office, as long as it gets a county variance to reduce required parking.

2) Stoltz offered to cut its plans for the former DuPont Barley Mill Plaza office center, "from the currently filed 2,846,000 square feet to 1,654,000 square feet," including 454,000 square feet of new retail space along Del. 141, and 1,200,000 sq ft inside the complex, about what's already there, and limit new building to four stories. In exchange, Stoltz wants commercial re-zoning along 141.

3 & 4) Stoltz also agreed to cancel most of its plans for a smaller office building at a third site, 20 Montchanin Rd., while it wants approval to knock bushes and expand parking at 3704 Kennett Pike.

No deal, just an offer. "I appreciate the County Executive working on a solution, but the proposal for Barley Mill Plaza is (still) miles in any direction from an Interstate exit" and still looks too big for the neighborhood, Weiner told me. He also accused Coons' administration of "irregularities" in approving Stoltz's earlier plans, ignoring complaints about the process, and rushing the revised offer so it gets out before November's vote. Next, he says he'll ask neighbors what they think. 

Wilmington News Journal story here. Earlier note here.

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PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at,, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

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