NEWTOWN SQUARE –As the Marple Newtown School District marches forward with their plans to demolish parts of the Robert C. Gauntlett Community Center, tenants within the center will need to look elsewhere for temporary housing.
Damion Spahr, vice president of business development at Reynolds Construction and one of the main points of contact leading the renovations project at the center, said the school district and the district courts have been in coordination with one another about the future displacement.
"Close coordination has occurred with the district courts to allow them to find other facilities," said Spahr. " They will be relocating in the near future."
The courts have already expressed interest and have submitted their proposed five-year lease to Newtown Township to relocate to the second floor of the township's municipal building as early as March of this year.
Although plans are underway to get the courts into the municipal building, several concerns about the lease were expressed from the town's Board of Supervisors, especially regarding the timeframe.
"I think we do have some concern with the lease," said Chairman George Wood (R-5th District) in a supervisors meeting Jan. 24. "There's just no way we can get all this done by March to start this lease as the county would like it."
The township will have to make approximately $500,000 in renovations to its existing facility to house the courts before they move in. Wood suggested the lease to be pushed back to June.
Some additional concerns: "We are also concerned that the lessee not have the right of the approval to sublet the premises," said Wood. "The lease may only be signed to prior written approval of its lessor at its sole discretion."
Supervisor Joseph Catania (R-8th District) also expressed his concerns of the unexpected shorter lease from the county, which came back as a five-year lease.
"We were expecting at least a 10-year lease that way it guaranteed us a grounded $70,000 per year lease for a greater period of time so that we could recoup the cost of making those renovations," said Catania. "And if they want to shorten it even further because of something that's beyond their control, while we understand that, with the cost that we're going to spend on renovations and with a five-year lease, it doesn't make much sense."
Township Engineer David Pennoni proposed to push the move-in date even further to mid-July or sooner of completeion to be on the safe side.
A decision from the county on the proposed changes to the lease is expected to come in the coming week.
Approximately 35 percent or 89,812 square-feet of the community center will be removed, according to Spahr. This will include the auditorium, board room and cafeteria areas along with the adjacent corridors.
Spahr said the school district is looking to bid the project in the spring and they are also planning to use a legislative $1 million grant for this project.