A New Village Lines Up Tenants At Ludwigs Corner, A Liquor Store Will Be First To Arrive.

Posted: November 03, 1997

LUDWIGS CORNER — For northern Chester County oenophiles, it can be a long drive to find a good bottle of wine.

But a new shopping center going up around the landmark Ludwig's Inn & Oyster Bar at Routes 401 and 100 will have as its first tenant a state liquor store.

``There is a lease that is signed, sealed and delivered,'' said attorney Robert Landis, co-owner of the shopping center and restaurant with his partner, Steve Graham.

``It will be a high-end wine and spirits shop,'' he said. ``We are very, very happy.'' Depending on how fast the state stocks the store, it could be open by the first week in December, he said.

The state store will join the Ludwig's Fish & Poultry store, another venture of the Landis-Graham partnership, a couple of arts and antiques stores, a dentist, a hairdresser, a lighting store and maybe a coffee shop and bakery, he said.

Landis and Graham believe their new center, designed to look like a 19th-century village, is in keeping with the history of the restaurant and the intersection, once a popular rest stop for travelers on the old Conestoga Turnpike.

Landis said the design evolved as he and Graham visited such places as Peddler's Village in Bucks County and Spread Eagle Village in Strafford. The pair took plenty of photographs, and then gave them to their architect, he said.

``One of the buildings we are just finishing designing is patterned after a barn,'' he said. Of the village, he said, ``We are trying to make it seem like it was built in stages.''

Unlike a proposed project catercorner from the restaurant on the former Hamilton tract, which pitted township residents against Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance ``Dodo'' Hamilton, this village has enjoyed relatively smooth sailing through the township's approval process.

``Actually, Landis and Graham were really responsive to the [township] Planning Commission and tried to come up with an idea and look that would complement both the existing inn and to achieve a look along the village line,'' said West Vincent Supervisor Zoe Perkins.

``They really worked hard with the township,'' she said. ``I have nothing but praise for them along those lines.''

Perkins said she hopes that Robert Hankin, who recently purchased the Hamilton tract, will follow the lead of Landis and Graham and create a development that is similarly appropriate for that corner.

Among the criticisms leveled at Hamilton's plans was the scope of the commercial component, which residents said was way out of scale for what is still primarily a rural intersection.

Landis said it has been five years since plans were first submitted to the township for his development, and he and Graham were more interested in getting the restaurant on a solid financial footing before they started on their shopping center. But he added that he was watching with interest the fate of the Hamilton tract.

``When we submitted [plans], the intent was to work with the township and see what was shaping up in the adjacent areas,'' Landis said. ``This area is in a transitional stage. That's why we want to make our village shopping center unique and not be the same thing that someone else is doing across the street.''

The township ordinances would have permitted a conventional strip shopping center, he said, but that was not what he and Graham wanted to pursue. Although he declined to estimate the cost of the project, Landis said: ``It is great deal more expensive to build something nice in a village concept than it does to build a strip.''

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