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Residents get look at new plan for Concord Pike

 By Jesse Chadderdon
Community News
Posted Jul 31, 2008 @ 12:34 PM
Last update Jul 31, 2008 @ 02:35 PM

Wilmington, Del. —

Brandywine Hundred residents got their first look Wednesday at a new plan for the southwest corner of Concord Pike and Beaver Valley Road, but they didn’t seem to like it any more than the previous versions.

Stoltz Realty Partners, a Bryn Mawr, Pa.-based developer, wants to build the Shops at Brandywine Valley – a mixed-use center with 237,000 square feet of retail space, 86 residential units, and a five-story hotel.

It’s the third version of the plan since last fall for the site, which is owned by Woodlawn Trustees. Gone is the previously proposed – and wildly unpopular – New Jersey-style jug-handle system that would have rerouted some traffic from Concord Pike through the 46-acre property. The other significant change is the addition of 50 residential units from the previous version, which had been criticized by some as a commercial plan disguised as a mixed-use project.

Still, many of the nearly 100 residents who gathered at the Brandywine Town Center’s Community Room to learn about the proposal were not impressed, citing everything from traffic concerns to the poor economy as reasons Stoltz should not be allowed to go forward.
Formal testimony will come at next Tuesday’s New Castle County Planning Board hearing, where members of the public will each be given five minutes to speak on the proposal.

New Castle County Planning Board
Tuesday, August 5
7 p.m.
Gilliam Building, 77 Read's Way

Wednesday’s meeting, hosted by New Castle County Councilman Robert Weiner (R-Chatham), at times deteriorated into a shouting match, with a few of the more vocal audience members often interrupting the presentation to voice their displeasure. It was a format that unnerved some audience members, some of whom called for a more respectful dialogue and others who simply left the meeting early.

Weiner said he was opposed to the project and used the meeting as a platform to tell residents how they could effectively testify against the proposal at the Planning Board hearing. The main thrust of his argument was that Stoltz had to give the county a compelling reason to rezone the property from residential to commercial – like reducing traffic on Concord Pike.

“If they want to change from high density residential to commercial and get rewarded with greater density, it has to reduce vehicular trip generation in the area,” he said. “We don’t want to have any more traffic than we have now.”

Attorney Pam Scott said it was far too early in the process to know what kind of traffic impact the proposal would have on the area. She said a traffic analysis would be done, and that Stoltz would be required to meet the county’s code requirements before any approval could come.

Brad Coburn, managing director for Stoltz, said the residential component would help ease the traffic demands of the site.
“This is better than a strip center,” he said. “This is better than something else you might see on the street here.”

Most of the storefronts would line a "Main Street" area that would be easily accessible by foot for residents or hotel guests, he said.
Still, Tavistock resident Judy McGee questioned the need for any more retail on Concord Pike. She said she’d prefer to see an age-restricted housing community on the site.

“Why did you decide you needed retail when there’s empty stores available all around?” she asked. “I just don’t understand that.”

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"Iíd like to express my appreciation to Councilman Bob Weiner who exhibits strength, determination and fortitude and is always on the side of the people. I followed Bobís actions when he was head of CCOBH's zoning committee and made strong efforts to try to stop the Brandywine Town Center construction. He has continued with energy and zeal in many pivotal positions in spite of enduring a lot of negative professional and personal attacks. I appreciate that he is never deterred."

Judy Magee

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