Major Redevelopment Plan for Chocolate Factory

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor The Hershey School, a Pennsylvania charity founded by Milton S. Hershey and his wife, Catherine, plans to acquire the world’s largest chocolate factory and convert the site into a vibrant residential development. According to The Philadelphia [...]

The Hershey School, a Pennsylvania charity founded by Milton S. Hershey and his wife, Catherine, plans to acquire the world’s largest chocolate factory and convert the site into a vibrant residential development. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the project will include condos, a retirement community, a boutique hotel and commercial space, all situated in downtown Hershey. With production slated to move to newer plants, the 2.2-million-sq. ft. chocolate factory is scheduled to close in 2012.

LeRoy S. Zimmerman, the charity’s chairman, will also lead the redevelopment project. Although no developer has been named yet, all eyes are on Delta Development Group Inc., a company co-owned by Anthony Seitz, Zimmerman’s son-in-law. A potential land sale was revealed in March and last week the charity confirmed the deal. Connie McNamara, spokeswoman for the charity, said that the Trust is carefully assessing plans to move ahead with acquiring the assets.

The Hershey School’s recent investments have helped boost the town’s economy. During the last five years the charity’s board spent $25 million to purchase the Wren Dale golf course and Pumpkin World, a roadside attraction. The Inquirer writes that the new downtown project, which could transform the town of Hershey, could be complicated and expensive. Apart from the chocolate factory, an adjacent office building might be redeveloped as well into a facility serving another purpose. Also, cocoa bean silos attached to the chocolate factory might have to be demolished and pipes insulated with asbestos could require immediate repairs.

Also in real estate news this week, the Philadelphia City Council decided to raise property taxes to safeguard the school district. As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Council’s plan would raise property taxes by 3.85 percent for one year; as a result, an estimated $37 million will be provided directly to the district. The City Council once again rejected Mayor Nutter’s soda-tax proposal which had received a negative vote last year as well.