Downingtown Borough Redevelopment On Track

Downingtown Borough Council OKs next step for new train station project

By Staff Reporter – Daily Local News

Downingtown Borough Council on Wednesday approved a developer’s conditional use application for the former Sonoco Property.

Hankin Group’s approved conditional use application for the development of Brandywine Station includes a mixed-use transit oriented development at the site of what officials are hopeful will be the new Downingtown Amtrak/SEPTA Train Station.

Hankin Group, an Exton-based real estate development, construction and management company, spent more than two years assembling the 21 different parcels that comprise the property for the project. The approval of the conditional use follows Hankin’s official announcement of its plans back in August.

“We’ve come a long way already,” Neal Fisher, Vice President of Development for the Hankin Group, said. “This project is unique to Downingtown and together we’ve worked through some challenges.”

Hankin Group has acquired 68 total acres located at the intersection of Boot Road and Route 322 (Brandywine Avenue) with plans to build 442 residential units atop 14,200 square feet of retail space. The proposed uses will be contained in six buildings, and the retail space will be located on the ground floor of the buildings at the new intersection of Brandywine Avenue and the development’s proposed entrance driveways, according to the conditional use application.

The proposed plan meets the existing Traditional Neighborhood Development District zoning that is designed to meet Downingtown’s aesthetic.

“I am so pleased our community has the opportunity to work with the Hankin Group on this project,” Councilwoman Patricia McGlone said. “Having viewed the architectural renderings and listened to Vice President of Engineering Neal Fisher’s plan for the old mill property, I anticipate a tremendous residential and retail center that everyone in our community will use and enjoy.”

The property consists of 40 acres in Downingtown Borough and 28 acres in East Caln Township. The development additionally will feature a pedestrian bridge connecting Downingtown’s Johnsontown Park to the east bank of the Brandywine Creek and a trail system that links to the proposed extension of the Chester-Valley Trail system. It will also include more than 100,000 square-feet of commercial office space.

“The Downingtown community is making a statement with this project,” Mayor Josh Maxwell said. “The addition of the largest private investment in our community’s history, including private funds being dedicated to bringing the Chester Valley Trail and the potential relocation of the Amtrak/SEPTA station to our downtown will make Downingtown stand out in the region.”

Downingtown officials, the borough council members and the Downingtown Main Street Association, along with representatives from the Hankin Group have been working in different ways to advance the project since 2015.

“The mixed-use plan that was presented by the Hankin Group and approved Downingtown Borough Council, will not only expedite the long overdue removal of the dangerously dilapidated buildings,” said Councilman Alex Rakoff, “it will also provide a walkable transit-oriented development that aligns perfectly with both the potential construction of the new Amtrak/SEPTA train station and the small town industrial feel that signifies Downingtown.”

According to the Hankin Group, asbestos abatement work is currently underway on a several severely dilapidated rowhomes and demolition work will begin next week.

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