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CHESTER, PA-University Crossings, a mixed-use revitalization project on land owned by Widener University, has begun with demolition of the Andorn House Apartments on Providence Avenue. Philadelphia-based Teres Holdings LLC is developing University Crossings at an estimated cost of $50 million and will own and operate the complex.

The location spans Providence Avenue from 14th to 16th streets. Teres has signed a ground lease with the university for a 60-year term. Ahsan Nasratullah, CEO of Teres, tells GlobeSt.com that Teres will pay $1 a year for the land, and, “after we’ve obtained a return on our investment, Widener will share 50/50 in the revenues.”

The complex consists of two joined buildings aggregating 85,000 sf, “with a ground-floor breezeway that makes that portion of the complex seem like it’s three buildings,” Nasratullah says. A 48-room hotel, called the Inn at Widener, will anchor the complex, which will also contain 60 rental residences and 13,000 sf of street-level retail containing a restaurant, bank, 24-hour convenience store, coffee shop, and Chester police substation.

The hotel component begins independent and unflagged by a hotel operator, but Nasratullah says, “we may flag it at some time in the future.” The residential units will include studios and one- and two-bedroom floor plans. The rent rates for studios will average $750 a month, according to Nasratullah, while one-bedroom units will rent for between $800 and $1,000 a month, and two-bedroom units will reach to $1,200 a month.

James T. Harris III, president of the university, calls University Crossings “the next step in the renaissance of the city of Chester.” In a statement, he says the university worked closely with the city, nearby Crozer-Chester Medical Center, the Reinvestment Fund, Delaware County and Teres to develop the project, which is expected to reach completion in fall 2008. The Reinvestment Fund has allocated tax credits from the US Treasury, which Teres has obtained and is exchanging through Sovereign Bank. While no state funding has been provided for the project, Nasratullah says, “we’re hopeful of state funding through DECD,” the Department of Economic and Community Development.

The land, which is now tax exempt as part of the university, will be added to the Chester tax rolls and is expected to provide $1.8 million in real estate tax revenue to the city and Chester Upland School District over the next 10 years. In addition, it is expected to add more than $800,000 in earned income tax revenues and another $600,000 in business privilege taxes from the jobs and businesses it creates. University Crossings is also expected to produce an economic impact of $1 million a year.

Teres has completed similar projects at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University in Philadelphia. Widener is a private university serving 6,700 students from campuses in Exton, Harrisburg and Wilmington, DE in addition to Chester.

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