1 West State Street Easements and Discussion
Part of the summary article regarding Media Borough Council workshop on April 7th, 2011.
Councilwoman Monica Simpson led a question and answer with public members regarding the sale of 1 West State St., reiterating the plan for the building, while Councilman Eric Stein highlighted that the purchasing company would be investing a significant amount of money in the property. An addendum outlining the timeline of the property was handed out at the meeting.
Brian Hall, candidate for Borough Council in 2011, asked what the easements would protect.
Monica Simpson: “The easements were for the State Street side, the palladium windows, the columns, the memorial, and the Jackson Street Side the same thing.”
Brian Hall: “The veteran’s memorial?”
Monica Simpson: “We would work that into the easements. There would be specific types of windows … so it would prohibit someone from tearing down the building, unless they kept two walls and put something big behind them.”
Kent Davidson (Media, PA News), and candidate for Borough Council in 2011, asked Robert Scott, Borough Solicitor, if the easements could be challenged in the future.
Robert Scott: “Anything can be challenged, but if it’s part of the consideration of the purchase price, it’s a big hurdle to overcome… to invalidate any easement is not easily done.”
Kent Davidson: “Is it expensive, or is it just time?”
Robert Scott: “It’s that there’s a difficult legal burden to meet, and I don’t see how one would be defeated in these circumstances, where it’s been freely negotiated.”
Kent Davidson: “What if the property changes hands?”
Robert Scott: “It’s binding on the land, an easement is recorded against a property, so it goes with future owners.”
Peter Williamson: “Court cases have attacked facade easements across the nation, but they have been attacked on whether they were tax-deductible or not, not the actual conditions of what they said, what they restricted … to date I don’t believe any facade easements in the nation have been thrown out.”
Robert Scott: “My friend Carl worked on a case in Chester County where a judge forced them to tear a house down … completely built house was required to be destroyed because it was in violation of a conservation easement … that’s how effective they can be.”
Kent Davidson: “So, it’s unlikely that would be challenged down the road.”
Robert Scott: “I think there’s a low chance that it would be invalidated.”
The follow up question was the tax revenue generated from the property, which is $18,200 per year, $1,800 of which would go to Media Borough, the bulk going to school taxes.
He then asked Borough Council President Pete Alyanakian about the offer in 2005 from Dan Brodeur for $1 million dollars whether it was a “legal offer”, e.g. a contract as opposted to a Letter of Intent.
He replied that yes, it was a legal offer, it was the only bid we received, and was rejected by council in a 5-2 vote.
Kent Davidson: “Did that have the conservation easements associated with it?”
Pete Alyanakian: “No.”
Jeffry Cadorette, Vice President of Administration & Development Commercial Sales and Leasing, Media Real Estate added his comments:
“I think that the offer that you’ve been made and the use that has been propesed is interesting. I think that that it’s not the highest and best use for the property, I think that the value of the property is in the land, not in the building … and I understand that there is an emotional tie to the building.
I’ve heard people say that it is the anchor location in Media. If it is the anchor location in Media, then you are making a decision to use it very poorly.
In my professional opinion, as a developer, the highest and best use for that property would not to take a hot dog and make it into a filet mignon. It would be to tear it down, and develop it into something that is an anchor for that corner, and the provides more for the economic development of the community. So if you want to hold onto some image … some ambiance … that’s wonderful. But I think you’re being short-sighted.
The ambiance of that building is not going to help the economic health of Media. It’ll be pretty … with a lot of empty stores around it.”
Robert Scott added: “This easement is in favor of the borough, and if the borough ever changed their mind int he future, that’s something that future councils could do.”