Earlier this month during a public meeting, Whitpain Township’s Board of Supervisors provided an update on the status of Reed’s Country Store and Barn property at the corner of DeKalb and Skippack Pikes in the Center Square section of the township. The business closed in 2019.
Below is the statement as read by Board of Supervisors’ Chair Michele Minnick:
I wanted to take a moment to update the community on recent correspondence between the owner of Reed’s Country Store and Barn and the Township. To be clear – this is the Reed’s property on the south-west corner of 202 and 73 and not the former Reed’s Nightclub.
The property sits at the heart of our community and has become one of the most iconic buildings in the Township. This is no small feat given the number of historically significant buildings in our Township, including the Blue Bell Inn, Broad Axe Tavern, and Dawesfield to name a few. Reed’s Country Store and Barn were captured in an iconic illustration that was immortalized on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1949.
In late March, the Township received a demolition permit for both Reed’s Country Store and the barn on the property. The applicant for the permit was Walsh Commercial Real Estate, LLC. The Township contacted the applicant for the demolition permit shortly after it was received to learn more. At almost the exact same time, the Township was approached by a potential purchaser of the property.
On April 8, 2020, Township staff and the Solicitor met with the potential purchaser to discuss their vision for the property. The prospective purchaser discussed a historically sensitive renovation of the existing building and preservation of the barn. The use contemplated a bank on the lower level of the store and financial consulting offices in the remainder of the building.
Given the conflicting messages we were receiving, the Township sent a letter to Mr. Walsh on April 15 seeking proof that Walsh Commercial Real Estate, LLC had the proper standing and permission from the property’s owner to apply for the demolition permit. In the letter, the Township also outlined several technical deficiencies with the permit while highlighting the fact that a demolition would strip the owner of any non-conforming, pre-existing rights associated with the property.
On April 28, 2020, the Township received a letter from an attorney representing the property’s owner, Center Square Enterprises, Inc. The letter indicated that Walsh Commercial Real Estate did indeed have the authority to apply for the demolition permit and was acting at the direction of the property’s owner. Assuming the applicant addresses and corrects deficiencies in their application, they can resubmit the application and the Township will have 30-days to issue or deny the permit.
The letter further stated that the property is not currently listed for sale and no agreement of sale is in place on the property. However, the owner has been approached, on an unsolicited basis, by several prospective purchasers and these potential purchasers may be exploring possibilities for the property.
The letter also mentioned that the current owner will engage the Township in discussions if the Township is interested in purchasing the property, “as-is, at current market price.” Alternatively, the owner would allow the Township to move the existing structures to another location at the sole expense of the Township.
We held off on sharing this information earlier because we wanted to determine the intent of the property owner. That intent is now very clear. My colleagues and I are certainly alarmed by the direction the property owner has taken in this matter given the historic significance of the structures in question. At this point, I can assure you that all possible avenues will be explored, as we look for creative solutions to preserve these historic structures.
Center Square Enterprises has owned the property since 1967 and according to property records the contact is a member of the Reed family.