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Main Line Improvements I'd Like to See


By most indications, things are looking up for the area’s town centers—and corporate America has little, if anything, to do with it. Credit the region’s many fearless entrepreneurs with shrugging off an iffy economy and getting things moving in the right direction during the past year or so. Vacancy rates are shrinking just about everywhere, and we get to reap the benefits of all the new restaurants, salons, shops and other independent businesses.

Me, I’ll take the White Dog Cafe over a new Applebee’s any day (and don’t even get me started on Papa John’s). That so many independent businesses thrive here is one of the many things that make our region so special. It’s something senior editor Tara Behan took notice of awhile back. And it’s the concept of grassroots, storefront rejuvenation that we’re celebrating in this month’s “Best of the Towns” cover story, along with various civic improvements and a few cool things you might not know about the area.

As part of our package, we also give local business leaders a chance to weigh in on what they’d like to see in their towns. So, in the spirit of wishful thinking, I’m offering a few of my own ideas for the communities I’m most familiar with.

• As a former Paoli resident, I’d like to see a groundbreaking on the much-hyped but long-delayed Paoli Transportation Center, before the old station is declared a public-safety hazard—or crumbles into dust.

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• Will someone please take advantage of the prime spot catty-corner to Starbucks at the corner of High and Gay streets? Once a gelato-and-coffee shop, the place has been vacant for a few years now. Downtown West Chester could use a decent gastropub or even another BYO (hint, hint).

• Am I the only one who’s sick of driving past those random pockets of suburban blight along Route 30 between Frazer and Exton? Abandoned buildings, fenced-off parking lots and weeds the size of trees—sounds like North Philly.

• It would be swell if those in charge of marketing downtown Phoenixville followed Kennett Square’s lead, realized they’re not living on an island, and started communicating more effectively with the rest of us. There are so many great things happening there, yet much of it goes unrecognized by outsiders. The Colonial Theatre and Steel City Coffee House have figured it out. Now it’s time for the rest of the borough to start flexing some promotional muscle.

• Given the crustacean-like speed with which it’s moving on the Paoli Transportation Center, SEPTA is unlikely to reestablish commuter rail service in West Chester in my lifetime. A trainless Chester County seat? It defies logic.

• And would someone please bring back Binni & Flynn’s? (Or am I the only one who misses that place?)

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