KENNETT SQUARE >> Council unanimously shot down a proposal to build a seven-story, 105-room hotel in the heart of Kennett Square, after hearing from more than a dozen residents that the proposed location was ill-suited to the character of the borough.
The hotel plan would have required the demolition of two houses at the corner of Broad and Cypress streets. Many residents objected to destroying two historic buildings in favor of building a Hyatt Hotel that included a gym and Starbucks.
“Don’t demolish the historic buildings of Kennett Square,” said Steve Ciprani at the Sept. 5 council meeting. “As a history teacher, I know the buildings are unique to the culture of town and are important to preserve.”
The Kennett Realty Group had an agreement to buy the properties at the Broad Street site from the Bosley Group, the same organization that owns the Market at Liberty Street. Councilor Geoff Bosley abstained from voting because his father, Larry, owns the Bosley Group.
About 50 people attended the meeting, and every resident who spoke to council -- with the exception of Edward Foley, an attorney representing the developers -- objected to the plan.
“There is a need for a hotel in town, but it must be the right hotel for the site,” said Holly Peters, who owns a business at 109 S. Broad St. “This proposal is the wrong idea for that site.”
Sally Warren, who once served on the borough’s historic commission, told council that Kennett Square has a good school district, many cultural and recreational assets, and new businesses moving in frequently. She said if the buildings are demolished to erect a hotel, it would destroy Kennett Square’s character.
“Once these buildings are gone, they are gone forever,” she said.
Andy Froenig urged council to deny a certificate of appropriateness for the hotel, saying the plan “goes against the grain of the borough’s HARB” (Historic Architectural Review Board) ordinance.
In the end, council heeded the demands of its residents. Even if the hotel plan were to go forward, it would need several concessions from council. The lot is too small for the hotel, the hotel plan itself is a conditional use, and traffic impacts on the area would need to be studied.
“You can see this project was very preliminary,” said Dan Maffei, council president.
But one thing is certain -- the developers were within their rights to develop a high-rise building at Broad and Cypress Streets. That’s because of a 2006 decision by borough council to write a tall building overlay district into its zoning boundaries.
“We need to review the tall building overlay and refine it,” said Councilman Wayne Braffman. “There are plenty of properties within the current zone where something like this can take place.”
The hotel developers claimed a hotel at the site would create 200 jobs and would provide a huge boost to the Kennett Square economy.