Well, what do you know? We’re getting a Pizzeria Vetri after all.
Just not in Devon. Not yet. And maybe never, the way Devon Yard’s going lately.
By mid-fall, we’ll get another Anthropologie, a Free People (relocated from the other end of the Court), and yes, the Pizzeria Vetri (with bar & lounge) that we’ve all been pining for. At the mall.
Meanwhile, back in dear Devon, the Yard project is as mired in weeds and thorns as the old Waterloo plot on which it would sit.
Yuck runs amuck: Neighbor vs. neighbor. Little guy vs. “big, bad” developer. Homeowners’ concerns vs. township interests. Threats and counter-threats.
The latest: Red “Promote Easttown: Support Devon Yard” lawn signs dueling with the blue “Save Devon” signs we’ve become used to seeing near Waterloo. (And yup, the first homeowner to put up a red sign last week – architect John Toates – says he found it lying in his mulch the next morning – which is exactly what allegedly happened when the blue signs went up a few months ago. Oy.)
The lawyer for the blue team – those opposed – all but promises a potentially lengthy appeal if township supervisors OK the zoning change that would greenlight the project. (It says here that they will.)
“People have instructed me to file any and all legal action to prevent this outrageous change in the zoning law,” attorney Joe Kohn tells SAVVY in a phone interview.
So Kohn and Co. appeal, and, if necessary, appeal higher, and then perhaps appeal higher still.
And all of Devon Yard – Terrain, Anthro, two Vetri restaurants and that controversial four-story retail/apartment building across the street – comes a tumblin’ down.
Because if this drags out much longer, Urban Outfitters will ship out for friendlier shores.
The threat of an Urban exit may be the only thing upon which developer Eli Kahn and lawyer Joe Kohn can agree.
When Kahn downsized the apartment project – lopping off the fifth floor and cutting density from 135 to 100 units – only one person in his aggrieved homeowner group put down his pitchfork, Kohn says. Everyone else – about 100 strong – still opposes the plan, he says.
Here’s the funny thing about Urban’s alleged vow to pull out: Both Kohn and Kahn are using it to advance their cases.
Kohn says it’s proof that Easttown has been “sold a bill of goods,” that Urban (aka Anthro/Terrain/Vetri) is “not committed” to coming here. Their supersized Anthro is “experimental,” as is Terrain, because both are unproven, newish concepts. If they don’t fly, they’re outta here. Indeed, Kohn claims the whole Urban deal is a “bait and switch” ploy by a “greedy” developer to engineer a zoning change so he can put whatever the heck he wants on the site. Because, Kohn asserts, if Urban really wanted in at Waterloo, they’d have built it by now; we’d be chomping on Vetri pizza pie already.
Kohn insinuates a cabal: Who actually owns Waterloo Devon LP? He wonders aloud to SAVVY. The plan all along (in his view): Maximize profits. Hoodwink the township. Screw the neighbors. “Supervisors ought to have the brains to figure this out,” he says.
Developer Kahn, on the other hand, turns the Urban exit threat around. He tells SAVVY the deal will die if the approvals don’t come through post-haste. He’s been carrying the property for two-and-a-half years; he and Urban will only wait so long.
Kahn says he really, really wants to build this project and give Devon what it’s never had: a walkable town center with the same sort of shopping and dining amenities (but grander) that he enjoys in his hometown of Malvern – a borough he believes he enhanced when he built Eastside Flats.
People need to understand it’s a package deal, Kahn says. Urban’s involvement requires foot traffic from the apartment building and its first-floor shops. Kahn requires it, too. The numbers don’t add up for him if Devon Yard doesn’t include multi-family housing, he says. If he can’t get his apartment building (which he claims he can’t shrink any more), he’ll find another buyer for the whole kit and caboodle. And this being a primo plot on Route 30, plenty will come a courtin,’ he says.
(No argument here. Likely candidates: an assisted-living facility or medical office building. And there’s always the specter of that Super WaWa with gas pumps.)
With threats on both sides swarming like summer gnats, prospects for Devon Yard get dicier by the day.
The road ahead: Ball’s in the supes’ court. Again.
The Easttown Planning Commission approved the revised project April 6.
The site of the proposed apartments was “bizarrely zoned for small residential lots” back in the day, commission chair Mark Standish tells SAVVY, in a phone interview.
He’s not buying the argument that the $2,500/month (minimum) units will attract lots of families and strain the T/E School District. “People with kids will rent garden-style apartments or places with balconies and green spaces.” Kahn designed and priced these for empty-nester buyers, he says.
Standish also talks about how “conditional use” means that an Easttown A-OK on the zoning change wouldn’t mean the township’s work is done. As the process moves forward, extra conditions e.g. landscape buffers, could be imposed, he says.
Kahn’s Devon Yard project “isn’t perfect,” allows Standish, “but nothing ever is.” (This isn’t Standish’s first NIMBY rodeo, BTW. He’s served on Easttown planning commission for 15 years.) “You never know exactly what a developer is going to do. But I feel strongly that this is a good project. We tried to listen to everyone; we took a lot of time to review this. We believe Eli Kahn and Urban Outfitters are both quality players.”
Curious about how another big player in the ‘hood feels about Devon Yard, we asked Devon Horse Show Chairman Wayne Grafton for his take: “It’s on private property so I can’t comment,” Grafton said. “But I do believe the township will make the smart, correct decision.”
The saga should come to a head when Easttown supes take a vote at the end of a May 5 special meeting. Alas, with appeals on the horizon, that “head” may have no teeth.
Downtown Malvern is swooning over the new Scoops ’n Smiles.
Open for two long weekends, the ice cream/water ice shop next to Christopher’s on King Street, is already killing it. On its debut day, 220 customers showed up in five hours.
“I think I’ve met 45 percent of Malvern in six days,” says co-owner Akain Rowland, who lives across the street. “Malvern has definitely been wanting an ice cream shop.”
Akain owns Scoops with his brother, Yusef. Both are five-year U.S. Navy vets.
Their uncle, another partner, makes Scoops’ water ices. Ice cream is sourced locally from Nelson’s Ice Cream in Royersford, a family-owned creamery that churns out some 40 super-premium (16 percent butterfat) recipes using fresh, scratch ingredients. (A dying art in this age of mixes, folks.)
We can personally vouch for Scoops’ Cappuccino Crunch but folks are also lapping up Graham Slam and Mint Chocolate Chip, Akain says. Also refreshing: Scoops’ family-friendly prices.
The official grand opening will be April 30, the day before the Malvern Blooms street festival. Until then, get your Scoops Thursday to Sunday, 3 to 9 p.m.(ish). Scoops goes to six days and longer hours in May.
(P.S. More Malvern scoops are headed your way in the next SAVVY.)
Say what you will about college sports breeding bratty athletes and crooked coaches, we’re not buying it.
Not this week.
Not in our town.
For this was the week that we heard about not one, but two Big 5 basketball programs (with an assist from a third) stepping above and beyond the call.
Reducing many of us – not sayin’ who – to (happy) tears.
The first you may have heard about.
The two senior stars of the NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats (Arch and Chef) hid in a Havertown basement last Wednesday. Then, ‘cause they had nothing better to do that night, gave a 4-year-old cancer patient the surprise of his life.
The viral video is a must-watch.
The back story: The little guy’s parents, Annie and Andrew Davis, are both Nova Nationers. (Annie Miller’s Nova ‘06 and Villa Maria ’02; Andrew, a Prep alum, is Nova grad school Class of ’13.) Naturally, son Blaise has been belting out the “V for Villanova” fight song since he could talk. Sadly, he started limping in January and two weeks later – just shy of his 4th birthday – was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in his femur. The same rare cancer in the same bone that hometown football hero Mark Herzlich (Conestoga/BC/New York Giants) conquered so famously.
Wanting to create a place for Blaise and little sis Lucy to play while Blaise endured eight or so months of chemo, the couple hired contractor Tim Moore to slap up a little drywall over the knotty pine in their “dated” basement – nothing fancy.
But Moore had other ideas and didn’t let the family downstairs during the entire five-week renovation.
He built a supercool, custom Villanova-themed playhouse in a basement corner. Then asked his friend, Ree Dunphy, wife of Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy, to reach out to her Nova contacts.
And so, last Wednesday, when Blaise, Lucy, Anne and Andrew walked down the stairs for the Big Basement Reveal, team captains Ryan Archidiacono and Daniel Ochefu were sitting nonchalantly inside the Nova-blue playhouse, waiting to high five little Blaise.
“We were blown away,” Annie Davis tells SAVVY. “They shook hands and hugged us. Blaise’s face was priceless. They gave him an “Attitude” wristband and couldn’t have been nicer. They said, ‘We’re all with you, Blaise. The whole Villanova community is behind you.’ It melted my heart.“
What Nova co-captains Arch and Chef didn’t know: Blaise was scheduled for a crucial cancer scan the next day and his mom was worried sick about it. “They gave me two hours of pure joy that night,” she recalls. The scan results were good, by the way.
Another positive: The bump to Blaise’s Go Fund Me account after a video of the Big Basement Surprise went viral. Either Annie (a nurse) or Andrew (a guidance counselor) will stay home with Blaise on unpaid leave and the #beatitblaise campaign, started by Annie’s brother, will help the family pay its bills while it lives on one income.
CHOP surgeons will operate on Blaise in mid-May. Wouldn’t be surprised in the least if a Wildcat or two showed up at his bedside. (Hint, hint.)
A second Big 5 surprise came in the midst of March Madness. This time, it’s St. Joe’s that shines.
Starring in this story is Jim Klinges, 21, (Malvern Prep ’13) who had to leave Hawk Hill after his freshman year to fight a diagnosis of Acute Lymphatic Leukemia.
Jim underwent a bone marrow transplant last December. Big sis Danielle – an exact match – was the donor.
In March, Jim’s bone marrow still showed evidence of cancer and things were looking grim.
Watching the Hawks beat Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA tournament was a bright spot in his day and a “great distraction” for Jim, his mom, Denise Quigley Klinges, tells SAVVY. She mentioned what a lift a shoutout from St. Joe’s would give her son to her pal, Maria Delany, owner of Louella boutiques in Wayne and Malvern.
So Maria reaches out to Sheila Grubb who reaches out to her sister, Judy Martelli, who is married to St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli. Next thing you know, the phone rings at the Klinges’ Wayne home. .
Denise answers and Coach Martelli is on the line, asking to speak to Jim.
Martelli tells Jim how the Hawks are with him in his leukemia fight. Thrilled and dumbfounded, Jim thanks the coach and hangs up.
Phone rings again. This time it’s a bunch of St. Joe’s players asking to speak to Jim.
So, yeah: As they prepared for a tough matchup with Oregon in round two, the Hawks found time to support a fan in the fight of his life.
Coaches (AND Players) vs. Cancer.
We’ve always felt that the Big Five was the classiest basketball gang in the country. Thanks for proving us right, guys.
A SAVVY shoutout to Cara Bradley, owner of Verge Yoga in Wayne, who delivered her first-ever book talk for her first-ever book at Barnes and Noble Devon last week.
And, of course, she nailed it.
Which basically proves the major point of her book: You do everything better – speak in public, shoot a basket, be a caring friend – when you quiet your “busy mind” and focus on the here and now. When you can clear out the “sloppy brain” that compares, judges, worries, strives and doubts and just … be.
Three years in the making, Cara’s book, On the Verge: Wake Up, Show Up and Shine, is a $16 life coach. It offers specific strategies that train you to experience “high definition, full-voltage living.” (There’s an app, too.)
Better yet, because she lives in Wayne, you get local references: to Valley Forge Park being her happy place, to the time she “fixed” a Villanova basketball player’s foul shot in time for a Final Four game, how her mental training helped her to better support her dear friends, the parents of Cayman Naib, the young Shipley student who sparked a massive search when he took his own life last year.
Like most entrepreneurs, Cara keeps lots of balls in the air: a thriving, yoga/meditation center, her own non-profit (offering “Mindfulness Through Movement” to a dozen Philly schools), an inspirational podcast series for women, the lecture/presentation circuit, mental strength training sessions for Villanova’s football team, and these days, a book tour.
We need an om just contemplating it all.
And just cause we’re curious: Why verge? It seems the verge is a sacred plot of land in Ecuador where two rivers meet. Cara’s husband once spent three weeks there with an indigenous tribe. She says the verge is known as the edge, the boundary where life thrives.
Hmmm. From our vantage point, we’d say you’re standing squarely on it, Cara.
And finally, a SAVVY salute to Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, the Conestoga ’03 alum whose funeral will take place this weekend. The Stoga scholar athlete was one of 12 Marines killed when two helicopters collided over Hawaii during a training mission in January. Tragically, he leaves behind his wife of 11-months, Major Paige Stull Kennedy, his parents, Linda and William, and his sister, Caitlin. His funeral Mass is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, April 23 at St. Patrick’s Church in Malvern with a visitation the night before from 7 to 9 p.m. Donations can be made to the Wingman Foundation, the Fisher House Foundation, or Travis Manion Foundation.