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A sale like few others planned for historic Guthriesville store

The price for preservation is just $10 - plus a letter of credit for $1.3 million. Otherwise, Wawa awaits.

It looks like the old Guthriesville General Store, a piece of East Brandywine history, is about to go up for sale. And the price will be cheap. Dirt cheap: $10.

But there's a catch. To view the property, interested buyers will need a $1.3 million letter of credit, a prohibitive sum for many.

That is amount the Wawa chain, which wants to buy the property and build a convenience store there, says an engineering study estimated rehabilitating the general store would cost.

The sale offer would give local preservations a chance to see if anyone is interested in buying the general store and preserving it. If not, Wawa would take over and demolish the general store to build a convenience store.

Built in 1869, the off-white structure with teal shutters and a front patio has been labeled one of the state's most endangered historic sites by Preservation Pennsylvania.

The $10 price is the latest development in a fight that began in 2001 when Wawa began seeking permission to build a store with 12 gas pumps behind the general store.

Construction has been stalled by preservation groups and residents who want to save the property and prevent owner Claudio DiGiamberardino from selling to Wawa.

The sale proposal has been agreed to by Wawa and East Brandywine Township, though not by local preservationists. Once it is signed, they will schedule a 75-day sale period and set procedures for potential buyers.

If no one buys the general store, it is expected to be sold to Wawa. In a February interview, Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce said the chain would then "document the structure before demolishing it." Wawa would presumably then build the store it has long wanted.

The property is at Route 322 and Bondsville Road in Guthriesville, a village in fast-growing East Brandywine, northwest of Downingtown.

John Black, chairman of the East Brandywine Historical Commission, said a number of sale conditions such as the letter of credit would deter buyers.

"The conditions are quite burdensome," he said.

Any interested buyer has to create a preservation plan for the building. The owner can determine use as long as it complies with zoning ordinances and doesn't compete with Wawa, Bruce said.

Black said he would like the store preserved and turned into a post office or a restaurant. He said the entire village of Guthriesville was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, but would most likely lose its eligibility without the store.

"The store has a much bigger impact than people are giving it," Black said.