Local developer Delle Donne & Associates is planning a 335-apartment development to accompany a “luxury” hotel, fitness center and retail complex at the Fairfax campus once occupied entirely by AstraZeneca on U.S. 202 north of Wilmington.
Larry Tarabicos, attorney for Delle Donne, said the development is a $350 million project, which will also add fresh office space the developer hopes will attract office tenants to the area. He discussed the plan with a capacity crowd of Brandywine Hundred residents in the Talleyville Fire Hall Monday night.
Delle Donne purchased the 80-acre property off U.S. 202 for $50 million last year and is preparing to move a redevelopment plan through the county’s approval process. Tarabicos pitched the project as “something that would infuse life and reinvigorate this area of Brandywine Hundred.
“This is going to be a different type of apartment community than anything else we have had (in Delaware),” he said.
The property already has county land use approvals for 1.8 million square feet of office space from the heyday of AstraZeneca’s worker employment in Delaware. Some of that office space was never built while some of the office buildings close to Concord Pike were demolished in recent years.
Tarabicos described the new development as “unlike anything built in Delaware” in the scale it mixes residences, office and retail space.
Under the Delle Donne plan, the property will encompass about a million square feet of office space, 455,000 square feet of residential and 200,000 square feet of retail space. A 180,000 square foot hotel is also planned for the project. The buildings will range from one story to seven stories, Tarabicos said.
AstraZeneca, which saw waves of downsizing before selling the property last year, will lease about 400,000 square feet of office space as an anchor tenant. The pharmaceutical giant signed a long-term lease agreement for two buildings when it sold the property.
Some of the existing office square footage along the western half of the property will be demolished and rebuilt. The development will be branded as Avenue North and most of the new buildings will be situated along U.S. 202. That will also include a new, five-story office building situated over retail on the first floor.
A 200-room, five-story hotel and conference center will stand along the entrance to the property from U.S. 202. A series of buildings fronting the pike will contain one-story retail, backed by two-story buildings with office stacked on retail, Tarabicos said.
Behind that, a seven-story apartment development will contain about 335 rental units, marketed to “upscale” residents with monthly rents likely starting somewhere around $1,500, Tarabicos said. The complex will feature retail on the first floor, parking on the second floor and apartments above, he added.
A swimming pool on a third-story roof will also be a feature, Tarabicos said. The project includes above and underground garage parking, he added.
“The interest has been significant from empty nesters in Brandywine Hundred and young professionals,” Tarabicos said.
The property’s retail space will include shops, restaurants, a fitness center and day care facility, Tarabicos said. Box stores are not included in the plans, he added.
The development will retain its existing entrances off Concord Pike and Powder Mill Road.
“It is horrible, but it is three hours a day,” Tarabicos said.
As the project relies upon AstraZeneca’s previous approvals, it is unlikely to be held up by traffic hurdles that have stalled other developments, said George Haggerty, a senior New Castle County Land Use official.
Some residents argued the project will not be the grand community meeting center Tarabicos pitched because U.S. 202 lacks safe pedestrian crossings for the tens of thousands of people living in Brandywine Hundred on the eastern side of the highway.
One resident asked Delle Donne to provide seed money for a long-term wish for pedestrian underpasses envisioned to go under the pike. Tarabicos didn’t entirely dismiss the idea but said it’s something for many businesses along the highway to consider.
“It is a complicated issue,” Tarabicos said. “You don’t have just one person foot the bill.”
The apartment project will be the third major development of its type proposed or under construction along U.S. 202.
The former DuPont Co. office complex known as Concord Plaza near U.S. 202 and Silverside Road is the site of a 341-unit apartment development along with new office and retail space.
Up Concord Pike, Louis Capano III recently submitted revised plans to build 138 homes and 360 apartments on Brandywine Country Club. The project will require the County Council to approve a rezoning sometime in the future.
“We know there are employers that would like to move their businesses here,” Tarabicos said.
Company officials said the office could house 4,500 employees. At its peak, AstraZeneca employed some 5,000 people at the site. As of last year, the company has some 1,500 there.
The plan is conceptual and has not been submitted to county regulators. Approvals will take about a year and the project is conceived as a 10-year build, Tarabicos said.
Tarabicos said the project will see some retail, the hotel and part of the apartment development begin first and be completed in the next three years. Two other phases will fill out the planned office and retail development through the coming decade, he said.
“It is all driven by interest,” Tarabicos said.
Written by Xerxes Wilson. Originally published in DelawareOnline.< Return to Noteworthy