A Main Line exodus: Devon dealer heads to Frazer in $8M sale

Gone from Devon's US 30 business district: Anro Printing, Waterloo Gardens... and now Sloane Toyota. Bob Sloane's Upper Main Line outpost plans a move to Frazer, two townships west, in East Whiteland, where the ex-industrial district (once home to White Autocar trucks, National Rolling Mills steel, the Wyeth pill factories) is being re-developed (by Brian O'Neill, Vanguard Group and others, encouraged by a development-and-tax-hungry elected Board of Supervisors) as a retail-office-apartment center.

$1 million an acre: Sloane has agreed to pay nearly $8 million for the 8-acre United Artist Movie Theater complex, 593 West Lancaster Ave., Frazer, says broker Christopher J. Magarity, vice president at Binswanger, who represented Sloane in the direct-from-seller deal.

"The site was a perfect fit" for Sloane, offering 495 parking spaces and a 40,000 sq ft building adjoining US 30 at US 202, Magarity added. Sloane plans a "total facade renovation." (As my colleague Andy Maykuth notes, the doomed theater is currently, ironically, showing The Identity Thief.

With Sloane's planned departure, there are several prominent vacant commerical properties along U.S. 30 in the Devon sector of Easttown Township, already one of the most heavily residential communities in the county, as local taxpayers can tell you. Why didn't the multi-dealer chain expand closer to home? Says Magarity:

Sloane's Devon site "is less than 5 acres.  Bob needed almost double that, and there was nowhere to grow contiguously in Devon.  We had known Bob was in the market for 8-10 Acres along Rt 30, and he had been down the road with [Brian O'Neill's organization] on their land at Deerfield, but that didn't work out." So Magarity and partner Scott Williams "scoured the market," west out 30, deeper into Chester County.

"Obviously there are not many 8-10 acre parcels, with 500 parking spaces, along that corridor, so we approached Penn Real Estate Group on the idea of selling the theater site, and found the timing was ripe." He pronounced the result "a great deal for both sides."

What about the bankrupt for-sale Waterloo Gardens property at the top of Devon's hill? "Waterloo is a great location, but not a great site for Sloane Toyota's use.That does not present a lot of frontage on Rt 30, which is vital to car dealers, and it is also only 5 acres that are separated by Devon Rd."

How about the neat, vacant, pale-brick former Anro Printing plant down the hill on the Berwyn side? "Anro is now owned by YBH Audi, and we understand they will be under construction shortly."