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Buyer, seller at standstill over historic home sale

A seller and a prospective buyer who both want a Pennsylvania house preserved as a historic site are stuck in a stalemate over a potential real estate sale, with the seller eager to close the deal and the buyer insisting on assurances of zoning variances from the borough before finalizing a contract.

At issue is a house in Shillington, Pennsylvania, that served as the home of a famous author for the first 13 years of his life. Shillington is about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The building now houses an advertising and marketing firm. The business owner, who also owns the house, wants to move his offices to a new location and sell the house. A group dedicated to honoring the late author wants to use a $200,000 gift to buy the home and preserve it as a museum.

Before the nonprofit organization will move forward with the sale, however, it wants a zoning variance to address parking and traffic issues in the otherwise residential neighborhood. A representative of the group said that while it expects a small operation with limited hours will not generate much traffic, the group respects the neighbors and wants to make sure it has handled all legalities before completing the sale.

The current owner said he offered to sell the house to the borough or to a local university but neither wanted it. He said he recognizes its value as a historic property. The prospective buyer is working with a real estate agent, who also serves on the borough council, to seek advice on the future steps.

Source: Reading Eagle, "Author's childhood home in limbo," Bruce R. Posten, April 19, 2012

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