Big changes at a Lower Bucks County institution
Middletown Supervisor Amy Strouse discusses a change of hands at township-owned Styer Orchards that will bring big changes to the 109-acre farm.
JD Mullane, Bucks County Courier Times
The long-vacant market at Delaware Valley University may soon no longer be empty under a proposed deal to place a garden center and upscale cafe at the Doylestown Township site.
The university is currently working to finalize a partnership agreement with URBN, a Philadelphia-based company whose brands include clothing retailer Urban Outfitters and Terrain, a garden center and outdoor lifestyle cafe.
As part of this partnership, a Terrain store would open on the university’s Farmer’s Market property.
The building at 2100 Lower State Road previously housed The Market at DelVal, which sold locally grown produce, plants and culinary specialties, while hosting a variety of community events, including seasonal festivals and a summer concert series. .
The market had operated in partnership with Shady Brook Farm in Lower Makefield since 2008, until it closed its doors in August 2020 amid economic hardship caused by COVID-19 restrictions. The property, owned by the university, has since remained vacant.
After:Closure of the DelVal market
Dave Ziel, Director of Development at URBN, said the partnership between Delaware Valley University and Terrain will provide a unique opportunity for collaboration, student internships and community connection.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled,” he said. “Having the opportunity to bring another (Terrain) to the area is exciting for us and we believe we can continue to deliver a huge advantage to Doylestown and DelVal that could go a long way.”
As part of the agreement, produce and produce from the university’s farm would be incorporated into Terrain’s retail sales, as well as incorporating those produce into the food served at its cafe and catered events.
“We couldn’t be happier to welcome Terrain to the DelVal Marketplace site,” said Delaware Valley University President Dr. Benjamin Rusiloski. “Terrain will be a great partner in helping us achieve our experiential education mission and there will be many opportunities for our students, faculty and staff with this new relationship. We also believe the community will appreciate the opportunity to visit Terrain and to have access to DelVal products and products on site.
The first Terrain opened in 2008 in Glen Mills, Delaware County, and has since expanded to six other locations in Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut and Maryland. His brand focuses on outdoor living and gardening, offering home, garden and outdoor living products, antiques, live plants, flowers and wellness.
In addition to its retail store, Terrain has an on-site nursery, private event space, and garden cafe.
“Coffee is really a kind of greenhouse dining experience,” said Jennifer Calliagas, director of North American planning for Terrain.
“Food is based on what is available in season and fresh. That’s what’s great about DelVal, we have the ability to partner with them on what’s in season, what they grow and integrate that,” added Calliagas.
After:The Garden at Pineville Tavern Grows Bucks County’s New Must-Try Outdoor Restaurant
Plans for the event space include an outdoor ceremonial garden, covered patio, and indoor space. Weddings would be the primary focus, but Ziel said the event space could also accommodate corporate functions and private parties.
The proposal was originally presented at the Doylestown Township Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 21, where Ziel said he was excited to blend “what we do in retail and what they do in agriculture.”
Since then, the plan has been making steady progress, according to Doylestown Township Superintendent Stephanie Mason, who said a preliminary land use plan was presented to the township’s planning commission on March 28.
“The university plays an important role in our community, and everyone sees it (this partnership) as a positive thing,” Mason said.
The plan is expected to be presented to the supervisory board this month or in May for final approval by the township.
Township Supervisor Ryan Manion, who is also a resident neighboring Terrain’s proposed location, said she believes the partnership will have a positive impact on the community by attracting increased tourism.
“I think Terrain is coming, with his tremendous reputation, I think he’ll be a wonderful addition to the township. Between engaging and working with the college and their farm-to-table approach, it’s just very fitting for the township and I’m very excited about it,” Manion said.
Zeil said he was encouraged by the support they have received from the community so far.
“We feel very welcome. We want to have a project that is well received and that fundamentally meets the needs of where we are located,” Zeil said.
“We are 90% there,” he added. “With a few more steps with the township, DVU and our own internal completion of the land development process, we will be able to bring the project to fruition.
“If that last 10% goes well, we really hope to start construction in early summer and we are very keen to try to open in early spring 2023.”