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Public Corruption in Chester County, PA

I believe an unlikely mix of alleged drug trafficking related politicos and alleged white nationalist related politicos united to elect the infamous “Bloc of Four” in the abysmal voter turnout election of 2005. During their four year term the drug business was good again and white nationalists used Coatesville as an example on white supremacist websites like “Stormfront”. Strong community organization and support from law enforcement, in particular Chester County District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll has begun to turn our community around. The Chester County drug trafficking that I believe centers on Coatesville continues and I believe we still have public officials in place that profit from the drug sales. But the people here are amazing and continue to work against the odds to make Coatesville a good place to live.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Don Pulver at the Coatesville City Council Meeting of August 23, 2011

I love them all but I don’t trust the Coatesville City Council as much as I trust Don Pulver.
Not because the Council members are un-trustworthy but because they have a track record of un-intended mistakes that can foul up the plans of both the City and developers and businesses interested in investing here. Such as coming close to losing the Marriott Hotel last November, see: 
The Oliver Tyrone Pulver Corporation is not some homebuilder who develops a 15 home subdivision and then dissolves the corporation 7 years later leaving commitments unfulfilled. Don Pulver is one of the top real estate developers in the nation and his word means something.
“Oliver Tyrone Pulver Corporation is a privately held commercial real estate development firm with a 40-year history of developing over 13 million square feet of first-class office buildings in major cities and suburbs. 
By selecting the most desirable locations and developing the highest quality buildings, Oliver Tyrone Pulver has established a strong track record of successful projects providing highly desirable office space for tenants and high returns for equity partners.” 
Tower Bridge-Unparalleled Record

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A conventional stormwater retention basin is in place on the southwest side of the development right now. 

Ross Weiss, Pulver's attorney leads the presentation to the Coatesville City Council on August 23, 2011:

The plan that was approved: “The hotel’s on the right hand side and the hotel’s on the left hand side, but in-between the two structures was a parking structure. So in effect what we all would see when the project is finished was three structures. Since the project has been underway and it has been re-evaluated as is normally the course as the project proceeds, Dave Gibbons the engineer for the project… made a suggestion to Don and that is:
Would you consider moving some of the surface parking to the opposite side of the proposed office building.
And as a result of that we would not need to have a parking structure in between the two buildings…
What Dave came up with was to remove the parking structure keep the hotel and office buildings where they are proposed to be located but to put additional surface building on the opposite side of the proposed office building.
What was proposed to be where this new parking is going to go was the stormwater management. And Dave’s suggestion, which Don agreed with, was to put the stormwater management under the parking. That would enable the surface parking to go on top of where the stormwater management was supposed to be and it would enable us to remove the necessity for a structure that is no longer needed. The parking would still meet all the City’s requirements for the amount of parking necessary for both the office building and for the hotel…
The Planning Commission unanimously recommended to you the City Council that you approve the revised plan to replace the parking structure with all surface parking.
We’re not here tonight to have the plan approved…
What we have to do next is go back take a look at the documents that were executed as part of the land development project and make amendments to the documents consistent with the revisions to the plan…
How important is this to the project:
 It’s very important; as Don explained to the Planning Commission when we were here a couple weeks ago, the project is scheduled to be complete in March of next year. That’s not very far from now.
But in order to stay on track the parking has to go from what was proposed to be temporary parking until the office building was to be constructed and the structured parking constructed to now be permanent parking.
We don’t need all of the surface parking in order to satisfy the requirements of the hotel. The requirements of the hotel will primarily be satisfied with the parking in between and not with the parking on the other side of the new office building.
But in order to stay on track and get the construction done in the sequence that is necessary, what is proposed to be temporary parking under the approved plan pending the construction of the office building will now become permanent parking. And that construction has to commence by October or November.
Therefore we are respectfully requesting that City Council act as quickly as is reasonably possible to get the agreements revised which we will work on with John to get the plan approved so that we don’t miss any time and jeopardize the March opening…

This is just idle speculation: 
The presentation concerning the changes in the plans for the hotel, office and restaurant took 8 minutes and 37 seconds. A fairly heated discussion over access to the City’s land on the other side of the Brandywine between Ed Simpson and Oliver Tyrone Pulver Corporation took 10 minutes and 28 seconds.  
It’s good to secure access to the City’s property across the Brandywine but I think Don Pulver fully intends to see that it happens. It’s just that there was a lot of emotion generated over access to what most people think is going to be undeveloped open space parkland. Is access to a walking trail park worth losing the income from the hotel?
I believe the seventy five acres mentioned is the land Coatesville originally intended for the golf course. 
I’m just wondering if all the time that the City of Coatesville was trying to make a golf course on those seventy five acres and there was a hue and cry to “Save the Saha Farm”, could some persons have had other intentions besides recreation for those seventy five acres?

Coatesville City Council member Ed Simpson, “Originally there was supposed to be an access for the City, a right of way access to the property on the other side of the Brandywine.  Since you’re making all these revisions is there any way you could incorporate that into the final plan so that we know where the actual right of way will be?
Mr. Weiss, “The facts have not changed as to that access to your parkland on the other side of the Brandywine. What we’re doing will not interfere with do violence to or change that ultimate action.
Mr. Simpson, “I personally would like to see it included in this next revision. So it’s finalized.”
Don Pulver, “I might add that there are plans to build a restaurant beyond this parking lot. The new parking lot is where the drainage basin was located. And it will be underneath the parking lot as a matter of fact. However, we still have to finish our plans for the restaurant and we haven’t done that yet. We’ve been busy doing these other things so until we do that we don’t know the disposition of that access way.”
Mr. Simpson, “Well then to me it would make more sense to just keep the three story parking garage so that you have room for the restaurant but now you’ll have room for our access.
Don Pulver, “Yes but, the garage was built because we were hemmed in by the drainage issues. Now that we determined that we can put the drainage underground; we really can’t afford the garage is what it comes down to. It’s a very expensive building; it costs like 2 and a half to three million dollars to build it.
 Ed Simpson, “Wasn’t that fully funded public money?”
Don Pulver, “No.”
Ed Simpson, “O, I thought you had all the money in place.”
Don Pulver, “We had the money way back when we had the buildings on both sides of the bypass. But when we got pushed together everything changed and all the numbers got shoved around.”
Ed Simpson, “So at this point you can’t show us a final of where the access will be?”
Don Pulver, “No we can’t.”
Ed Simpson, “OK…
Councilperson Jarrell Brazzle, “Well, we’re guaranteed to have one.”
Because there’s one on the plans now…”
Ed Simpson, “Now all I’m asking for is prior to us giving any sort of yes or no. We need an assurance from you that there’s going to be an access. Whether it’s in writing saying yes you will have an access, here’s where it should go…

Mr. Weiss, “The right of way that was agreed upon when the final plan was approved is not being changed. There is an easement that the City has that gives the right to have that access and to have that right of way…
It’s a separate easement that provides for that access. We’re not doing anything to Change that, but we’re just not at a point in the further development to be able to identify specifically how that connection issue will be made…
But this all was resolved last November and I appreciate you’re concern for that connection but it’s not Don Pulver’s intent to not make that connection available. It just has to have that flexibility. It’s a balancing act of the connection vs. the development of the site…
City Solicitor John Carnes, “The understanding was that at some point, and I think you’re referencing this, there was some flexibility and we would address it possibly later. I think Mr. Simpson is kind of wondering, can we address it now?”
Mr. Weiss, “And I think Don’s answer is that we can’t. But I’m certain that if he could he would want to do it. Because he said that he’ll do it. But right now for the same reason that we had to ask you to approve the plan when it was approved 8 to 10 months ago, that same reason applies now. And that is there is too much uncertainty as to the development to the balance of the site. And I don’t think the city would want to jeopardize the restaurant, the office building and whatever else can be done, for the trail.  Now that’s not to say there won’t be a trail and there won’t be a connection but it just is we’re trying…
Mr. Simpson, “It’s more than just a trail, Mr. Weiss; there’s seventy five acres over there that could be developed, seventy five acres.
Mr. Weiss, “And you will have access to it.
Mr. Simpson, “And that’s all I’m asking for. Is there some way we can incorporate it into this agreement that is binding, but you’re asking not to make changes where you’ve already committed to a three story building a three story garage; you’ve committed to it. We bought off on it, we approved it. Now you want to make changes, all I’m asking for is to protect the City’s interests on seventy five acres that we own on the other side of the Brandywine that we were promised access to continue to make sure that we have an access and it is something that we can get in and out of. You can’t just say alright we’re going to give you this property at the end. And then we find out that we can’t get access off RT 82 into it. It does us no good. I mean all we want to do is get back to the original agreement where we got access over to that property, which is seventy five acres. It’s more than just a trail, OK as long as everybody is aware of that. There’s more up there than just a trail.
Mr. Weiss, “On our property it’s a trail and a bridge and we agreed on how wide the bridge would be.  The question is how do you go through the property to get to the bridge. And in order to secure the develop-ability of the balance of the site. Knowing what lenders and investors will look at and get concerned about. That was a reason that we requested it would be resolved. That it would be resolved in the future once we knew where the balance of those buildings was going to go. It will be resolved it’s just that we can’t do it right now.
And I think that on balance, I would hope that Council would agree that the important thing is to keep this project moving. These are extraordinary economic times there’re very few places in this area at all that has anything being built. And we’re fortunate that this project is moving forward in Coatesville. It just is that certain things have to happen for it to occur.
Mr. Simpson, “And I appreciate your concerns but you have to appreciate where we are coming from…
We don’t want to be rushed into something where five years from now that there’s no access and we have seventy five acres that we can’t do anything with. That somebody says, well you had access when they were going to do it and now you let them do this, this, this and this and now we don’t have access. So they’re going to come back on us.  We’re just trying to make sure that we have future access to that property which was agreed upon when all of this started how many years ago? That was the key. You have to admit that access to that property was very important part of the overall success of this total project.
Don Pulver, “Yep”
Mr. Simpson, “We might be cutting off our noses to spite our face if we don’t get that set right now.
Don Pulver, “Well we have the hotel to finish. We have an office building to get built. And the office building is very important because it’s going to create the majority of the jobs here; on the order of two hundred fifty to three hundred in the building itself in addition to the hotel. And then the restaurant is critical to both of those. So they all go together and they all have to get built. That’s all I can say.
Mr. Simpson, “Right and whereas I’m looking at it is if we stay with the three story parking garage, put the restaurant next to it…”
Mr. Pulver, “No, that doesn’t solve the problem. You still have to build the parking, you know, you have to build the drainage basin.”
Mr. Simpson, “OK”
Mr. Weiss, “ All we’re doing is replacing a basin with a parking with surface parking with the basin underneath but the ground is still disturbed and the ground will still be utilized. By moving the parking there we’re not taking anything away in terms of what’s available for use.  
Listen here:

Also see: 
Developer drops garage from Marriott hotel plan 
Published: Thursday, September 01, 2011 

There is a stormwater infiltration basin under the “Main Street at Exton” mall. Villanova University also has a parking garage with a stormwater retention basin under it. I made a post on the Riverseekerblog concerning urban stormwater solutions:

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