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7/31/2008
Concord Pike plans draw residents' ire. Weiner draws applause for opposition to project - News Journal

BY GINGER GIBSON • THE NEWS JOURNAL • JULY 31, 2008

One member of New Castle County Council told residents Wednesday he will oppose the measures necessary to construct a 237,000-square-foot mixed-use shopping center, an 86-unit residential area and a 120-room hotel in Brandywine Hundred.

And most who showed up for the meeting to discuss the project hosted by county Councilman Bob Weiner agreed with him, saying the project would bring increased traffic, and grilling the developers.

The meeting was planned to allow residents to hear plans from Stoltz Management Co., which is developing the project, and voice questions about a proposed shopping center and residential area.

Over 100 residents listened as developers explained their intention to construct the center on Concord Pike and Beaver Valley Road.
In the early stages of the project's proposal, developers said it would be anchored by a Whole Foods grocery store, but the possibility of the high-end chain appearing in the center was not mentioned by Stoltz in the most recent presentation.

Weiner cautioned residents not to be lured by the possibility of any specific retail companies appearing in the center because the long-term nature of the project makes it impossible to guarantee tenants.

Weiner said he was glad Whole Foods had been removed from Stoltz's presentation.

Brian Bernstein, a landscape architect from Stoltz, told attendees the slated development would provide residents a place to shop, socialize and live.

The proposed center has faced several problems and has been redrafted three times to address traffic and usage questions.

Needs rezoning

In its current form, the project must gain approval for a rezoning of the 47-acre-site owned by Woodlawn Trustees to change from residential to commercial. This is the primary obstacle facing the project that otherwise would have likely cleared all other requirements.

David Warfield, 56, of Windsor Hills, said the plan for the center needs further revamping, including addressing environmental impact, traffic, parking, noise control and restrictions on tenants to allow for synergy with the retail space, such as late-night party restrictions.

"The proposal has been revised and needs additional revisions," he said.

Weiner drew applause from the crowd when he said his goal was to prevent increased traffic on Concord Pike by disapproving the project.
The balance between residential and commercial space included in the project was how Weiner measured the impact on future traffic problems.

Ideally for Weiner, the retail space should only occupy about 20 percent of the project and stores that are built should only aim to serve the people living within the development. The project now calls for 40 percent residential space, with the rest composed of retail and hotel space.

Tensions between residents and developers grew to a boiling point when crowd members asked how long the project would take to construct and were unsatisfied when the answer was "we don't know."

Residents feeling duped began yelling at representatives, demanding to know how they could enter into a multi-million dollar endeavor without having an accurate completion date.

A representative explained that given the state of the economy, the time it might take to gain approval and the unknown factors that could arise, it would be irresponsible to try to pinpoint an exact timeline.

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