The much delayed reopening of the Chadds Ford Inn is delayed again, this time because of a cease-and-desist order and other regulatory matters under appeal.
Chadds Ford Township issued the order late in the workday Tuesday, July 11, after the township engineer learned that workers were installing a clerestory addition to of the centuries old inn. The order was issued because no building permit was issued for such activity.
The addition functions as an atrium, letting in more light to an existing room.
Builder and inn owner Joe Grace submitted plans for the addition in May, but no permit was issued because those plans had not yet been revised based on the engineering review letter, according to township engineer Joe Mastronardo, of Pennoni associates Inc., the engineering firm retained by the township.
Township solicitor Hugh Donaghue declined to comment on the specifics of the matter, but said there have been several issues regarding work at the inn that need to, but haven't yet been addressed by the builder.
Those other issues regard the installation of a sprinkler system and the choice of plumbing pipe material for the inn's restrooms, Grace said. He will be going before an appeals board on those matters July 27.
Grace, who bought the inn and several adjacent properties -- the old Baldwin building and the Wooden Knob -- early last year, closed the restaurant in order to renovate the building. The inn has been closed for about a year-and-a-half. There were plans to reopen in May, then in August or maybe September. Grace said last week he isn't sure when he'll be able to open the restaurant.
A closed Chadds Ford Inn has not been good for nearby businesses in the Barn Shops.
Lynn Schultz, who owns Green Meadow Florists across the driveway from the inn, said she has lost about 75 percent of her walk-in trade.
"People think I'm closed because of the construction," she said.
The Chadds Ford Gallery has lost foot traffic also, according to its director, Barbara Moore.
"It really ticks me off," she said of the delays. "It's distressing enough to be in business these days, now there's another bump in the road."
Moore said that when the inn was open, there were always people coming into the gallery during lunchtime, especially on the weekends.
"We used to have busloads of people coming in," she said. "Now no Saturday or Sunday traffic. Those were the big days."
Moore said the township shouldn't be anything but pleased with the work Grace has done on the Baldwin building and Wooden Knob, and can't wait until the inn is up and running again.
"The inn is an historic business that has served the township well. It's a shame to see it just sitting," said Moore.
Jeffrey Yamas, owner of the Brandywine River Hotel, said his business is actually up 17 percent, but thinks that could have been better -- more than 20 percent increase -- if the inn had been open.
"I have some corporate clients that won't use hotels unless there's a restaurant within walking distance," he said.
Yamas, who spoke on behalf of Grace and his efforts with the inn during a May hearing before the township Zoning hearing Board, said last week that grace has done "a spectacular job" with the property so far.