Councilman Weiner & Community opposes Stoltz New Development Plans for Concord Pike and Greenville
Greenville skyline may sprout a tower
By MAUREEN MILFORD, Wilmington News Journal 3/27/08
In what civic leaders and county officials call an extraordinary move, plans for five development projects in New Castle County totaling $750 million in value are expected to be submitted today by a real estate company with major landholdings in Delaware. Stoltz Real Estate Partners, a real estate organization based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., said three of the proposed projects would be along the Del. 141 corridor in Greenville. If built, the projects, including a proposed high-rise residential building near the post office on Kennett Pike, would transform the face of the upscale community.
"Wow, wow. I don't know what to say. I'm shocked. I guess it would be an understatement to say it's ambitious," said New Castle County Councilman William Tansey, R-3rd District, which includes most of Greenville, when told of the Greenville projects. "It's definitely going to be ugly in the Greenville area with the neighbors. They don't get very vocal unless something like this happens."
Councilman Robert Weiner, R-2nd District, which includes parts of Greenville, said the residential tower will be an "explosive" issue in the community.
In information released to The News Journal on Wednesday, Stoltz said it expects to file plans with the New Castle County Department of Land Use seeking land-use approvals for projects from Greenville to near New Castle. George Haggerty, assistant general manager with the land-use department, said he doesn't believe the county has ever received in one day that many projects "of this magnitude."
The projects in Greenville call for:
•A $525 million redevelopment of Barley Mill Plaza, the former DuPont Co. office campus at Del. 141 and Lancaster Pike in Greenville. Plans call for 700 apartments or condominiums; 1.48 million square feet of office space; 731,250 square feet of retail space that includes stores, restaurants, a fitness center, day care and hotel. A Stoltz entity bought the 24-building office park on 100 acres in September from the DuPont Co. for slightly more than $90 million, commercial real estate agents said.
•A $19 million addition to the Greenville Center shopping center at Kennett Pike and Buck Road. The project includes an approximately 12-story building of mostly residential units near Greenville Manor housing community. It calls for 12,800 square feet of office space and 22,235 square feet of retail, which includes incorporating some existing space.
•An expansion of the former MBNA office campus on Del. 141 and Montchanin Road (Del. 100) that was once the headquarters of Columbia Gas Systems Inc. Stoltz bought the nearly 20-acre office campus from Bank of America. Plans call for a new, free-standing office building totaling 36,501 square feet.
•In addition to the Greenville projects, Stoltz plans to build a $100 million shopping center near New Castle at the site of Parkway Gravel on Churchmans Road and Del. 273. A Stoltz entity has an agreement to buy the land, according to the Stoltz company. The 524,000 square foot center would have shops, restaurants and entertainment.
Also to be submitted today is a new $80 million plan for land at the southwest corner of U.S. 202 and Beaver Valley Road. New plans for the project done with Woodlawn Trustees Inc. of Wilmington call for 264,000 square feet of retail and offices (of which 27,000 will be offices), and 36 residences.
Stoltz gave no timetable for the projects.
County officials and neighbors were stunned by the news.
"This is just unbelievable," said Dan Bockover, president of the Civic League for New Castle County. "It's a bold move, that's for sure. I'm sure Stoltz will be awfully busy answering questions from neighbors."
The Greenville projects are expected to be the most contentious.
Richard Beck, acting head of the Kennett Pike Association, said "all this sounds very amazing to me."
"We have to take a look and see what the legal basis is for seeking" the approvals, Beck said.
Weiner said the residential tower would be totally out of context in Chateau Country.
"It's something that would loom over quiet residential communities in Greenville," Weiner said.
As for the U.S. 202 project, Weiner said the Concord Pike corridor already has more than its fair share of commercial business.
But Councilman George Smiley, D-7th District, which includes the project near New Castle, said without having seen the plans for his district, he thinks it would be "good for the area."
"It'll bring jobs and more opportunities for those who don't have opportunity to go into the high-tech area," Smiley said. "I don't think the people in that area will be concerned with it because it's always been an industrial-commercial area. I think it will have a greater positive impact on the property values than what's there now."
Tansey said the land approval process for the projects will be a "long, long process. We don't have the resources to deal with projects of that magnitude."
Haggerty, of the county land-use department, said he could not comment on what land-use approvals might be necessary for the five projects without seeing the plans.
"The nice thing about our process is the regulations address property rights ... also the concerns of the community," he said.
In a statement, Brad Coburn, managing director of Stoltz Real Estate Partners said:
"At a time when the economy is struggling and markets are difficult, we are confident we have an unmatched group of premium projects that will contribute positively to Delaware for decades." The Stoltz family has been a force in commercial real estate in Delaware for about 50 years, starting with a commercial real estate brokerage run by Aaron Archie Stoltz and his son, Jack.
Today, Jack Stoltz's son Keith Stoltz runs Stoltz Real Estate Partners, a manager of private real estate equity investment funds.
"I've learned that Keith Stoltz seems to relish tackling land-use applications that are both challenging and viscerally unacceptable to the community," Weiner said.
Coburn said in the statement that "traffic is everybody's concern."
"But we believe, and our industry has come to understand, that mixed use projects that we are focused on, to a large degree simply reshuffle existing traffic within a local 3- to 5-mile radius of the project. Our projects are not seeking to draw consumers and users from a broader trade area."
Contact Maureen Milford at 324-2881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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