First Block Development Back on Council's Agenda

What's going on with the vacant buildings on Gay Street? Council will revisit the "plaza plan" tonight at its 7 pm work session.

Since the County sold the first block buildings in 2011, development plans have come and gone. The plans came to a standstill several years ago, due in part to issues with zoning regulations and concerns about razing historically significant buildings. The building at 34 W. Gay Street has particular significance. In 1880, former slave turned entrepreneur and political activist Charles H. Burns established Burns' Great Oyster House there and, later, James Spence, Jr. operated a restaurant at 34 W. Gay.

The First Block

Developer Eli Kahn, who now owns the buildings, returned to Borough Council last week with two proposals. One is the same ~60' 4-story "plaza plan" he proposed nearly 4 years ago (below). The building would house first-floor retail and offices on the second, third and fourth floors. The plaza would be on the corner of Church and Gay Streets and privately owned/operated by Kahn. Several years ago, a petition supporting this plan received 1,764 signatures and support from Sen. Andy Dinniman, Former State Rep. Dan Truitt, three former mayors, the Daily Local News, and the West Chester Citizens Business Alliance.

The Plaza Plan

The second proposal is a ~45' 2.5-story yellow brick building with large retail spaces on the first floor, offices on the second floor, and a large, open rooftop restaurant (below).

Alternate Plan

Come to Borough Council's 7 pm work session tonight to learn more and voice your opinions! Also, please email me at with your thoughts! I'll be posting more about this important issue!

For more information about the history of the first block, click here and here.

Photo and renderings credit Eli Kahn.

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