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4/1/2009
After years of planning, work starts at Claymont's Brookview site; mixed use village spearheaded by Councilman Weiner in 2000 - News Journal

Work starts on homes at Brookview site
New Darley Green community will have 1,226 houses
BY ANGIE BASIOUNY • THE NEWS JOURNAL • APRIL 1, 2009

After more than three years of planning, construction has begun on an ambitious project long touted as key to Claymont's revitalization.

Work crews have been at the 66-acre site off Darley Road -- once home to a run-down apartment complex called Brookview -- for several weeks, building the first five town houses in Darley Green.

When completed, the project will be a walkable town center with a mix of 1,226 homes and more than 50,000 square feet of retail space.

"We're coming out of the ground," said Donald Robitzer of the Commonwealth Group, which is developing Darley Green with Setting Properties. "We're very optimistic at this point of these homes being sold. I'm concerned about us being able to keep up with demand at this initial phase."

Construction isn't the only new thing happening with the project. The name is new as well. In 2007, the developers settled on the name Renaissance Village, tapping the "renaissance" theme of the Claymont revitalization effort.

But marketing studies showed the name was cumbersome and hard for most people to spell, Robitzer said.

The new moniker recalls the historic Darley House that borders the property. Famed illustrator Felix Darley, whose work was featured in newspapers, on bank notes and in novels, moved to Claymont in 1859 and lived in the house until his death in 1888.

The name Darley Green also embraces the "green" aspects of the project. When Brookview was demolished in 2007, much of the building materials were salvaged or recycled. The new units will have optional "green packages" for homebuyers who want energy-efficient appliances, windows and other features, Robitzer said.

He said he's confident the units will sell despite the recession because of the high interest in the project and its price range. The town houses will start in the low $200,000. The company believes Darley Green will appeal to first-time buyers and residents who want a shorter commute to Philadelphia and south Jersey.

"It's the right place, the right price," Robitzer said.

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