Stoltz Development Threatens Scenic & Historic Brandywine Valley/Compromise Sought - Community News
Stoltz invites public comment on four major development plans
By Joe Backer
Posted Dec 13, 2008 @ 07:15 AM
Last update Dec 14, 2008 @ 12:51 PM
Greenville, Del. —
Stoltz Real Estate Partners elaborate plans for four major development projects in New Castle County encountered opposition from Greenville, Montchanin and Barley Mill in a recent public forum held by the developer to get feedback on them.
The plans include a 2.9 million-square-foot mixed-use village at the DuPont Barley Mill Plaza site and a 364,000-square-foot town center at the southwest corner of Concord Pike and Beaver Valley Road. The other plans are for a 133,000-square-foot expansion of Greenville Center, which would include a 12-story residential tower and a 36,501-square-foot expansion of the Montchanin Corporate Center – on the former Columbia Gas site.
Stoltz Chief Operating Officer Brad Coburn said when combined, the projects will contribute more than $14 million annually in taxes to New Castle County. In addition, the venture will create approximately 8,000 permanent jobs for office, retail, hotel and residential and at least 1,200 temporary, construction-relation jobs.
“Since Delaware is in a recession, we feel our investment will mean much needed tax revenues and employment opportunities for New Castle County,” he said.
Coburn added the company is still in the early stages of planning and working with the community and New Castle County officials. The intent of the public meeting, he said, was to hold a conversation with area residents to get their thoughts and opinions on the initial development plans.
At issue, according to many of the residents who attended the meeting, was the size and scope of the projects.
Anthony Lunger of Greenville Manor said his initial impressions of the plans were negative.
“We don’t relish the idea of have a 12-story building build literally in our back yard. I work in a 12-story building in downtown Wilmington, and I know how out of character a structure that size would be for Greenville,” he said. Lunger said he has attended previous Stoltz meetings and civic meetings on the proposals and said it’s important to note how these projects would impact on the infrastructure of New Castle County.
Lunger and other residents noted how the traffic flow on Kennett Pike and adjacent roadways are already strained, and the general feeling is that the situation would be severely exacerbated by very large development projects at this time.
“The traffic coming in and out of the Greenville Center is already a complete zoo most of the day,” said Lunger. “My wife and I can attest to that, and adding more office, retail and residential space in there, I really don’t see any upside to this whatsoever.”
“The plans are a good start, but they don’t go far in minimizing regional traffic,” said New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner (R-Brandywine West), who is also a land-use attorney. “You can limit traffic through design by making projects more pedestrian friendly,” he said. “The Stoltz projects are designed to attract regional, out-of state shoppers for out tax-free shopping, and so we’re hoping that through contact and dialog and compromise, we can help the Stoltz organization to retool their projects to be more responsible so that Stoltz will be good citizens of our community and respect the integrity of our community,” Weiner said.
Too Much Retail
Weiner said that if shopping centers are built to attract regional shoppers and regional traffic to a site, then country roads on both sides of the Brandywine River will be inundated with traffic and will lose the unique character that makes the historic Brandywine Valley special.
“The loss of that scenic Brandywine Valley would mean the loss of tourism and the loss of opportunity to bring the next Astra Zeneca to northern Delaware or even to keep a DuPont Company here. As you know, Astra Zeneca came here because they were drawn by the quality of our living and the uniqueness of New Castle County,” said Weiner.
Long Term Benefits
Coburn said it should be pointed out that alternate plans were also presented for each site for the residents to examine and present questions and concerns. He said it should be remembered also that once all of the final plans are approved and in place, it would take two-to-three years for construction to begin at each area.
Liz, a former resident of Greenville, with relatives still in the area, said she felt the projects would change the overall character of Greenville.
“With more shoppers and office workers in the area, the busy roadways will only get much busier. As for the retail, there’s only so much demand for products, and I feel that there are already of number of retailers on Concord Pike that should be able to handle any demand for regular or holiday shoppers,” she said.
Nancy, from Concord Hills said she felt the plans were “incompetent” because of infrastructure problems.
“We have experienced traffic problems for years that can’t get fixed. We can’t get in and out of our community because of the sheer volume of traffic, and I feel it’s only going to get a lot worse if all of this approved at the same time.”
She also expressed concern about more retail in New Castle County, particularly because of all of the stores already on Concord Pike and the fact that Christiana Mall is now headed into bankruptcy.
“Who’s going to shop in all of these stores?” she asked,
Concerns were also raised about the possibility of more crime in the area, the loss of property values and environmental issues should the proposals become fully approved by county and state officials.
Stoltz officials said there would be more public sessions to keep residents apprised about the four major projects in New Castle County. To see the plans, and to hear more comments from area residents about the Stoltz proposals, visit communitypub.com.
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