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3/15/2012
Stoltz now freed to revert to larger development plans - News Journal

"If Stoltz simply didn't contest the lawsuit, the rezoning would be undone and Stoltz would be left with the original zoning and the ability to build 2.8 million square feet again," Councilman Bob Weiner said. "But this time there would be no private agreements with limits on things such as building heights, so there could be 10-story apartments next to Westover Hills, West Haven and West Park."

Stoltz now freed to revert to larger development plans
Mar. 15, 2012  Written by ADAM TAYLOR  The News Journal

Stoltz Real Estate Partners' defeat at 20 Montchanin Road technically allows the developer to revert to its larger plans for the Barley Mill Plaza office complex and Greenville Center.

Those plans include building a mixed-use project as large as the King of Prussia Mall at Barley Mill and a tower the size of the Rollins Building at Greenville Center.

The smaller, compromise development plans negotiated privately between Stoltz and Citizens for Responsible Growth contain an out-clause for Stoltz if all four of its Greenville projects weren't approved by New Castle County government.

Stoltz attorney John Tracey declined comment Wednesday on whether his client would exercise its right to get out of the compromise deals at Barley Mill, which reduced the planned development from 2.8 million square feet to 1.6 million square feet, and at Greenville Center, where the compromise eliminated the proposed condominium tower.

County Council approved variances at Greenville Center site and at the site of the former Kirkwood Fitness Center at 3704 Kennett Pike, near Greenville Center. It also rezoned 40 percent of Barley Mill Plaza. On Tuesday, however, it rejected Stoltz's request to replace 43-year-old deed restrictions at 20 Montchanin Road with new ones, triggering the out-clause.

CRG leader Bob Valihura said Stoltz could choose to "unring the bell," although it doesn't have to.

"I have a very, very, very uneasy feeling in my stomach that this developer will choose to rescind the agreement, as he has the right to do, and move forward with the original plans that are still in abeyance," said Valihura, an attorney.

CRG President John Danzeisen said he thinks there's a 50-50 chance that Stoltz could opt out of the agreements.

"Keith Stoltz might feel that because he didn't get the extra value for 20 Montchanin, he'd be better off going back to his original plan," Danzeisen said. "But I think there's an equal chance that he'll decide he can live with the deals he got for the other three sites. That's what I'm hoping for."
Stoltz could still appeal the council's vote on 20 Montchanin in Superior Court.

Reverting to the original plan would be more difficult at Barley Mill than at Greenville Center, county Land Use Department General Manager David Culver said.

Because County Council granted a rezoning of 40 percent of Barley Mill from an office to a commercial designation in order to make the smaller, compromise plan possible, Stoltz would have to ask the county for another rezoning back to its former office designation, Culver said. Stoltz could simply let recently approved zoning variances at Greenville Center lapse in order for that site to return to its former status.

Save Our County member Tom Dewson said the notion of Stoltz backing out of the other three agreements is far-fetched because the Barley Mill rezoning will be so lucrative for the developer.

"Barley Mill Plaza is the key to the Stoltz plans, and Stoltz got everything it wanted at Barley Mill," Dewson said. "Why would Stoltz sacrifice its 'Christiana Mall North' and the very favorable variances at Greenville Center? The retail space they are seeking at 20 Montchanin is 1 percent of the mega-mall planned for Barley Mill Plaza."

Ironically, the easiest way for Stoltz to regain its ability to build 2.8 million square feet at Barley Mill might be to purposely lose the lawsuit it's engaged in there. Save Our County sued Barley Mill LLC, the owner and developer of the site, in December, trying to stop the project. Keith Stoltz is a member of Barley Mill LLC.

"If Stoltz simply didn't contest the lawsuit, the rezoning would be undone and Stoltz would be left with the original zoning and the ability to build 2.8 million square feet again," Councilman Bob Weiner said. "But this time there would be no private agreements with limits on things such as building heights, so there could be 10-story apartments next to Westover Hills, West Haven and West Park."
 
Former state Sen. Charlie Copeland says he doesn't see Stoltz starting over.

"I have to think that the Barley Mill site has to be 90 percent of the deal for them," Copeland said. "Overall, I think Stoltz has a pretty good gig."

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