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9/16/2005
Renaissance main issue at civic meeting

By Kevin Barrett
Special to the Brandywine Community News

The Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred held a meeting September 8 at Brandywine High School to the "Claymont Renaissance" and other issues of interest.
The primary focus of the meeting, however, was the "Renaissance". New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner spoke first, discussing the plans to build a villagelike community to replace the Brookview Apartments. The presentation included a slide show containing artist renderings of how the area might look.
The apartment complex, which is located on 66 acres and contains about 450 low-to-moderate income households, was sold to the real estate company Commonwealth Group who, in a joint venture with Setting Properties, will be building
the new community.
Weiner told the 40 people in attendance that the goal is to construct a pedestrian-friendly community where everything is within walking distance, designed much like traditional villages and small towns were built before there were cars.
"We will connect where people, live, shop, work, play, pray, and school their children, the function of every village," Weiner said.
Weiner is a proponent of the "New Urbanism" school of city planning, which strives to get away from suburban sprawl and the resulting reliance on automobiles.
"We got away from tightly-gridded roadway systems and villages," Weiner said. "We have lost ability to exit and enter our communities except by car."
The new Brookview will contain 1,200 residential units, a mix of town homes, condominiums, and apartments, in addition to retail stores and professional offices. This will result in a population density double that of the current Brookview apartments.
In addition to being good for the local businesses, the increased population density will create a safer community where people know and socialize with one another, Weiner said.
"Density is not evil, density is our friend," Weiner said. "It invites economic development, it invites a community that has a more village-like feel. You can walk down a suburban street now and you can ignore your neighbor because he's thirty yards back across a suburban front lawn."
Weiner said that for many years, Claymont has been a place that people drive through on their way someplace else, and he's hoping that will change with the revitalization. "Claymont is not only being designed as a place people will want to live in, but a place people will want to come and visit as well."
Councilman John Cartier spoke about the need to accommodate the housing needs of the Brookview Apartments residents. The new units being built are projected
to be in the $160,000 to $400,000 range.
The hope is that some of the residents will be able to move into the new units, either as renters or homeowners.
If not, the Commonwealth and New Castle County will help them find affordable housing elsewhere.
Cartier said that a priority during the transition is treating the residents of Brookview in a "..decent, humane fashion."
Construction of the revitalized Brookview is scheduled to begin in the Summer of 2006.

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