PHOENIXVILLE - Five developers have expressed an interest in buying the Foundry building.
The Phoenixville Area Economic Development Corporation (PAEDCO) controls the 13,000 square foot steel site landmark.
A flurry of letters have circulated between five possible developers and PAEDCO during the past month.
PAEDCO set a minimum selling price of $750,000 for the Foundry which includes 4.2 acres of land on the banks of the French Creek. Possible buyers were informed that bids on the building would be accepted until June 30.
Private funds of more than $1.8 million were used to develop the building to its present state along with more than a million dollars worth of grants.
Still unused grants for the property's development from both state and federal sources stand at $1,233,000. A visitor center destined for onsite at the Foundry building will be constructed with part of those grants, while left over funds will go to update the building.
Currently the building has no heat, water or bathrooms, and is little more than a shell.
Various possible uses for the building include a farmer's market, catering hall or use as a restaurant with one restaurant chain developer expressing interest.
The Barry Cassidy-led Main Street Board voted unanimously to endorse West Chester and King of Prussia restaurant owner Dave Magrogan to purchase the building.
Magrogan owns Kildare's "An Authentic Irish Experience" in King of Prussia and West Chester. Recently he has become more visible in Phoenixville as a major sponsor of the recent FAME Festival.
"This is not going about building an office building," said PAEDCO President Doug Murray. "This is trying to save a significant structure and create an adaptive reuse of that structure."
Magrogan said on Friday that he had expressed strong interest in the project to PAEDCO both during meetings and through correspondence.
Magrogan brought restaurant advisors from Ireland. He said that the Irish team has worked on 400 projects world-wide in 30 countries and "loved" the Foundry building.
"We're more than interested," he said . "We've spent the time and money, flew the guys in from Ireland and often discussed the project with Barry Cassidy."
Magrogan broker and Prudential, Fox and Roach Realtors marketing specialist Joseph Scott McArdle foresees the building's major role in the revitalization of Phoenixville.
"It's a perfect time for it to happen with all the growth going on," said McArdle. "It's great that everyone is working together to finally see the centerpiece of Phoenixville realized."
While Magrogan admits that he likely couldn't fill a 13,000 square foot area with diners alone in the same way that he has at two other locations, he did say that the site might be used for multiple uses.
Plans are far from finalized. Magrogan proposed placing a restaurant and possibly a meeting or convention center and hosting catered events such as weddings on both the current floor area and a mezzanine or balcony which he would consider adding to the building.
He said that the new venue would likely support live music several nights per week. At Magrogan's two Kildare's restaurants, live music is a staple.
"We want as many uses as we can to fit into the building to appeal to different people," said Magrogan. "The Foundry will have to be a destination and has to bring people in from the surrounding communities."
Magrogan said that additional parking is needed to serve a business which might have as many as 700 seats. He said that ground across Main Street which is owned by Phoenix Property Group might be suitable for parking in addition to 100 spots now available at the site.
"We're working with the borough of Phoenixville," said Magrogan.
"Wouldn't it be great to have a parking problem in Phoenixville?" said Magrogan's financial advisor Chris DeVol. "It would mean people are coming to the downtown."
The Main Street Board instructed Cassidy to secure whatever loan guarantees and grants to help facilitate construction.
"There are a plethora of programs out there; we need to see which one will best fit the developer," said Cassidy. "(Magrogan) is the one who we feel will offer the most cooperation with the downtown group. None of the others have had time to chat with us and he came to us and asked us for help. I believe that speaks volumes about his intent to become a part of the revitalization process and work within the arts and entertainment strategy for the downtown."