Dinniman, Lewis hail additional state funds for Coatesville revitalization

State Senator Andy Dinniman (D-19) and State Rep. Harry Lewis Jr. (R-74) announced Thursday that a $3.2 million construction loan, as well as $2.1 million in additional state grant funding, was approved for the Coatesville Gateway Redevelopment Project.  

The Commonwealth Finance Authority approved the funding today through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Business in Our Sites program. The funds will go through the Chester County Industrial Development Authority to assist with the Gateway Project, a retail and office development slated for the corner of First Avenue and East Lincoln Highway.   

In addition, Jim DePetris, of DEPG Associates and Legend Properties, the managing partner behind the Gateway project, this week confirmed his commitment to hiring Coatesville residents to work on the redevelopment of their city.  

“As we continue to strive to attract developers to Coatesville, the most important aspect of any redevelopment project is that it includes opportunities for career training and employment for city residents, so that they can play a leading role in the revitalization of their city. Too often in the past, the citizens have not been a central part of that effort and those opportunities,” Dinniman said. “After all, revitalization is not just about construction and infrastructure projects. It also has a greater purpose and that is rebuilding the community through job opportunities and economic growth.” 

“Not only will this project work to renew our beloved city to the vigor it once had, but the young adults of our local communities will be the ones bringing the vision to life,” Lewis said. “It was nonnegotiable that the construction jobs give them an opportunity, rather than having the jobs benefit people from elsewhere.”

The hiring commitment came in response to a letter from Dinniman stating that his support of the project was contingent upon assurance that Coatesville workers would be trained, hired and employed to work on it.  

“New, job creating and tax-generating development projects are absolutely critical to Coatesville’s revitalization, and City residents should be the first to benefit. DEPG is committed to working with the municipality and other appropriate organizations to ensure Coatesville residents are given first priority to apply and qualify for positions,” DePetris wrote in a May 22 letter to Dinniman.  

Furthermore, DEPG plans to host local job fairs, target local residents in advertising job openings, and develop and maintain relationships with local professional associations that represent city residents and community members, DePetris wrote.   

Dinniman said DEPG’s commitment was another promising development as work moves forward in Coatesville on both the Gateway project and the Third Avenue Streetscapes Project related to work on the new Coatesville Train Station.  

The $25 million Gateway project calls for street-level commercial space, including dining opportunities as well as a proposed daycare center, with professional office space on the second and third floors. While many of the existing building on the north side of Lincoln Highway from First Avenue up to but not including the Coatesville Cultural Society building will be demolished, the project design aims to maintain and incorporate the historical architecture and atmosphere of the city.   

The project has already received $3 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funding from the Commonwealth. In addition, it received a $900,000 state grant through PennDOT’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program.   

The transportation grant funds will be used to realign the intersection of East Lincoln Highway and First Avenue to improve traffic flow and safety. In addition area, Diamond Street, which currently is an alley, will be converted to a street with the creation of pedestrian sidewalks. Other related improvements call for an adjacent parking garage and upgrades to surrounding streets with improved lighting and landscaping. 

As demolition is scheduled to begin in August, Legend Properties Inc., in conjunction with Lewis, plans to hold a job fair early this summer.

The $21.6 million redevelopment project will consist of 47,000 square feet of retail/office space. While some existing buildings will be demolished, the project will maintain the historical value of Coatesville through the new design.

The Third Avenue Streetscapes Project is currently in the bidding process and work is expected to begin by the fall.  

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