For Immediate Release
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First Public Meeting of Historic Kennett Square Economic Development Strategy and Implementation Plan
The first of three public meetings on the Kennett economic development study and implementation plan will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 11.
Those who attend the initial meeting – held at the Genesis HealthCare building in Kennett Square — will get an overview of the study and its concept, and will learn about the team working on it and what they have been tasked to do. Attendees will also learn about information that has already been gathered on demographics, labor and industry, real estate and more, and will receive an update on what work has been completed to date.
Todd Poole, the president, founder and managing principal of 4ward Planning, and Mark Keener, the director of urban design for the RBA Group, were hired last year by Historic Kennett Square, the Borough of Kennett Square and Kennett Township to help set priorities for where and how the region grows, the continuation of the borough’s revitalization, and the protection of natural, rural and historic heritage.
“It’s an opportunity … to introduce the whole concept behind this study,” Poole said, “and for myself and Mark Keener to discuss where do we think we’re heading next and what’s happened so far.”
The second meeting, to be held in March or April, will allow for public input and participation.
”It will really be an opportunity to invest in the project,” Poole said of the second meeting, describing it as more of a workshop.
A Vision Partnership Program Grant from the Chester County Commissioners, administered by the County Planning Commission, will fund part of the $60,000 study. The remainder is being funded by both municipalities (Kennett Township and Kennett Borough), Historic Kennett Square, Genesis HealthCare, and Longwood Gardens.
A task force, comprising representatives from the borough, the township, and Historic Kennett Square; Longwood Gardens; the Chester County Planning Commission; and community members was also formed as part of the study.
“Kennett Square is well-positioned to be able to direct positive change right now,” Keener said. “It is a good time to be having this discussion.”
Poole, Keener and their teams have been focusing on seven areas. They include:
- State Street corridor;
- Cypress Street corridor;
- Birch Street from Walnut to Broad streets;
- The area known as Millers Hill, on the eastern border between the Borough and the Township;
- The Ways Lane area in the Township;
- The former NVF site in the Borough; and
- The area on the west side of Mill Road in the Township.
Poole spoke at the Historic Kennett Square’s annual meeting about trends in revitalization, many of which can impact this region.
“There are macro-level trends that can have influence over the region,” Poole said in a telephone interview, citing factors like housing types, aging populations, and the rise of Hispanic households as ones that can present challenges and opportunities for the borough and the township.
For instance, he said, towns and urban centers that offer a range of housing – from affordable to high-end – are better positioned to grow in years to come.
“Housing for anyone is inextricably linked to economic growth,” he said.
Aging populations can provide economic growth, Poole explained, because it is a segment of the population in which retired or soon-to-be retired Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 and representing about 75 million people nationwide – often choose to start second businesses and often seek to live in areas that offer walkable communities and a small-town feel.
“They are having an influence on communities nationally,” Poole said. “The vast majority who go into retirement seek to stay local, within about an hour. For places like Kennett Square, this is more of an opportunity.”
The rising Hispanic population is another trend that can impact revitalization of urban center and towns, especially in Kennett Square and Kennett Township. Without the Latino population’s growth – and the subsequent creation of new households – many areas would see little to no growth, or even lose growth, Poole said.
The public is invited to attend the presentation by Todd Poole and Mark Keener on Thursday, February 11th 2016 from 6:30pm to 8pm on the Garden Level of the Genesis HealthCare Building, 101 East State Street. Coffee and dessert will be served. Free parking is available in the parking garage after 5pm.