Mon. May 16th, 2022

Economic growth in West Chester has been turning up in high gear as of late. The two biggest projects on the horizon are the proposed plans to renovate the Farmers and Mechanics building on High and Market Street, and a proposed plan to turn the old Mosteller building on Church and Gay Street into a commercial business park. These two projects in particular, although just two of many either proposed or ongoing projects, help to illustrate the difficult battle the Borough faces of historic preservation versus economic growth.

If historic buildings have lost their economic value, then we as a Borough need to face the reality that they should be brought down. Clinging to the past in situations where it is just not feasible, is not a practical method we should be employing as a Borough.

All of the Borough’s “current” historic buildings: the Farmers and Mechanics building, the Greentree building, and the Wells Fargo bank (originally the National Bank of Chester County), once replaced buildings that at that time, were considered historic. And at that time, I assume that they were having the same debates over preservation versus growth that we are having today.

However, the buildings that we put in place, over these existing historic buildings, need to be of the highest caliber. They need to be deserving of recognition and admiration 10, 20, 30, or 50 years from now. Mayor Comitta put it best: “[We need to] preserve our historic resources and small town charm, while allowing for reasonable economic development”.

If West Chester continues to maintain the strict standards for its historical buildings, while also accommodating for demolition and new growth, it will continue to be a leader in historical preservation in the region. And that is not a bad thing at all.


Kyle Phillips

Intern to the Mayor

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