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Preservation group recommends residential development of historic Pennhurst site, P.2

9/28/2011 | Real Estate Blog

In our last post, we noted that a land-use study published last month has prompted proposals for zoning amendments to the historic Pennhurst property.

One of those proposals, offered by Richard Chakejian, of Pennhurst Acquisitions LP, seeks to change the zoning ordinance for the site from low-density residential to general industrial. Chakejian owns the former Pennhurst School and State Hospital properties. According to sources, he wants to amend the zoning from low-density residential to general industrial. His application also requests a change which would allow additional permitted uses, including composting, outdoor entertainment, recreation and theater, recreation building, and historical and amusement-oriented tours.

Chakejian is the owner of the haunted house attraction at the Pennhurst Asylum, which opened last year. The attraction is set to open again this fall, but sources said Chester County Court has received an appeal to a zoning board decision allowing the reopening of the haunted house.

According to John Gallery of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, Chakejian’s proposal doesn’t allow for residential uses except as part of the historic overlay district, and that is a problem. Gallery wants residential uses specifically permitted in the ordinance.

Gallery said the Preservation Alliance favored putting off a hearing on the zoning amendment for four months, to give the group the opportunity to see if any developers would be interested in developing the historic site.

It isn’t clear exactly what the outcome of the re-zoning requests will be, but Gallery hopes that the site will be developed economically and preserved for its natural beauty.

Source: Daily Local, “Land-use study recommends housing for Pennhurst campus,” Laura Catalano, Sep 17, 2011.