Builder Manny DeMutis bought the 8,000-square-foot 19th Century building located at 121 Bridge Street from the Phoenix Property Group (PPG) for $150,000 on Thursday.

Barbara Cohen, executive director of the Phoenixville Area Chamber of Commerce, said that the sale was "absolutely wonderful."

"Manny is a terrific leader in the revitalization of Phoenixville and this is another piece of that revitalization puzzle that will be put into place," Cohen said on Thursday evening.

DeMutis also said on Thursday that ownership of the three-level building will let him consolidate three separate offices into one location and secure parking.

"This allows us to just be in one spot," said DeMutis. "It's centrally-located and there is enough space to have a conference room."

Seller PPG's John MacPhee said that there is room for 32 to 36 parking spaces at the 1.7 acre site with 1.3 usable acres on the north side of Bridge Street.

DeMutis said that he is "exploring the possibility" of building a single precast concrete deck that might add 30 parking spaces.

PPG plans to construct a 33,000-square-foot building next door to the Superintendent's Building as part of the Gateway at French Creek Center.

PPG agreed to give DeMutis parking cross easement rights, which will allow DeMutis patrons to use the Gateway Building's parking spaces.

DeMutis owns the property directly across the street on the south side of Bridge Street, which nearly surrounds the Columbia Bar and Grill. He expects to build 16 high-end apartments and 27,000 square feet of commercial space that could house as many as seven retail tenants at the site.

"This ties in with the Gateway Building office that will bring people to Bridge Street," said DeMutis. "The East Bridge Street Revitalization Project will put amenities on the street that office workers can use. This project provides the necessary parking for lower Bridge Street" (at the 100 block).

"Along with their Bridge Street project, we could create a synergy along Bridge Street," said MacPhee.

MacPhee said that PPG estimated the cost of renovation of the structure to office space at $750,000. He said that the building requires a new roof, windows, mechanical elements and plumbing.

"You would never build that building brand new," said MacPhee.

MacPhee said that the Borough of Phoenixville had considered locating Borough Hall at the site, but eventually decided against it. MacPhee said that there had been a "surprising amount of interest" from prospective buyers of the historic structure.

As part of development at French Creek Center, a 70-unit senior housing project under construction by Pennrose Properties and a proposed S&S Development of 152 townhomes are part of PPG's master plan. Proposed for the 123 acre former steel site at French Creek Center by PPG include retail, apartment and 1.5 million square feet of office space in the heart of the downtown.

"With every development, we have worked with organizations and individuals who we feel are participating with us to achieve the Creek Center successfully," said MacPhee. "That's why we selected Pennrose Properties for the Manor at French Creek and with S&S Development of the Townhomes at French Creek Center. For this reason, we have taken this approach to quietly help the (Superintendent's) building.

"Candidly, restoration of historic building is not our business so we recognized what our core business is and wanted to sell the building to some one for who it is their business," said MacPhee.

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