|Ruth L. Bennett Home & Wilson Nursery|
Shortly after the post, I received a call from someone offering me the opportunity to join them in an effort to restore the Wilson Nursery. I wasn’t interested in taking on that project, but I didn’t say no right away.
After making a couple phone calls, I learned that PennDot had earmarked one million dollars to restore those two buildings from money set aside from the new ramps on the Commodore Barry Bridge. I spoke to the project manager who confirmed that money would soon be released and plans completed for the building restorations.
For $1 million, I would think the money would be better spent razing the buildings and building something new, but it’s not my money. There's some historic preservation thing preventing a new start, too.
The project manager passed my name on to the engineer who invited me to the meeting where they presented the new restoration plans to the Ruth L. Bennett Improvement Club, the group who manages two buildings. The meeting was held at the Elks Club in early October where the engineer and architect reviewed the project history and presented the restoration plans and drawings to about a half dozen people, some of whom were not members of the Improvement Club, and several of the Improvement Club members were not present.
I was flabbergasted! These guys are really going to spend $1 million to restore these two buildings. What a gift to the city of Chester.
However, The Ruth L. Bennett Improvement Club has no plans for the restored buildings. There is no planning going on for future use of either property. When the keys are turned over to the Improvement Club, there will be two amazingly restored buildings with no security, no furniture, no curtains, no paint, no light bulbs, no appliances, no tenants, no insurance, and no source of income to maintain the upkeep.
There was talk that Delores Freeman would move her Nia Center into the Wilson Nursery but unless that program grows by leaps and bounds, I can’t see them being capable to even afford the electric bill with the shiny new central air-conditioning and heating system that will be installed.
In the spirit of economic development, these buildings should command market rate or above for rental space. These will be the newest buildings in Chester and they're historic. What is market rate two blocks from PPL Park?
I offered my assistance to help them put a project plan together to be ready for the November 2013 grand opening, but I haven’t heard a word from anyone.
Unless someone steps in to save this project, it’s going to be a grand flop when it could and should be a grand ribbon cutting.