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Christiana Care, Solenis to move hundreds of workers to former AstraZeneca campus

Christiana Care, Solenis to move hundreds of workers to former AstraZeneca campus
February 8, 2019

In a win for Wilmington’s suburbs, hundreds of health and chemical professionals will move to offices just outside the city.

Two companies — specialty chemical producer Solenis Inc. and health care giant Christiana Care — each have agreed to lease office space at AstraZeneca’s former property along U.S. 202 in Fairfax.

It is part of Delle Donne & Associates’ $350 million redevelopment of the 80-acre campus along the northern edge of Wilmington. The development company purchased the property in 2017 from AstraZeneca, a drugmaker worth about $90 billion.

“We’re very fortunate to have secured tenants this soon in the game,” Delle Donne & Associates President Gary Ciaffi said. “We didn’t expect it to happen this quickly.”

Over the past decade, more than 2,000 AstraZeneca employees in Delaware lost their jobs as the drug company slashed costs at its Fairfax offices and elsewhere.

The austerity occurred after Delaware gave the company more than $40 million in grants and tax credits in 1999, and the Delaware Department of Transportation spent another $70 million upgrading roads in and around the campus.

AstraZeneca still maintains its U.S. headquarters at the property, though on a smaller footprint.

Ciaffi said Solenis’ decision to move into 90,000 square feet of renovated space on the campus keeps its own 323 workers in Delaware.

While looking for properties to replace its current five-story corporate office near the Delaware-Pennsylvania state line, the speciality chemicals company had considered moving out of state.

“They went on a space search and looked in the surrounding region and they liked what we had to show,” Ciaffi said.

In November, Delaware approved for Solenis a $3.9-million taxpayer-funded grantto convince its executives not to leave the state.

About 200 Solenis employees will move to the new headquarters in early 2020, the company said.

Ciaffi declined to state the terms of the lease, except to say it is “long term,” lasting more than 10 years.

In a report published last month, commercial real estate broker Colliers International put the vacancy rate for office space in the suburbs at 10.1 percent, compared with 14.9 percent in the city itself.

Also at the AstraZeneca property, Delle Donne & Associates is building more than 300 apartment units that will be marketed to “upscale” residents, and retail space.

The development, branded as “Avenue North” will include a 200-room, five-story hotel and conference center that will stand along the entrance to the property from U.S. 202.

“The expectation is that over time, there will be some employees of Solenis who want to live over there,” Ciaffi said.

Christiana Care also announced on Monday that it agreed to lease a 386,000-square-foot building at the redeveloped space.

The hospital system, Delaware’s largest, said it will move “much of its administrative and support services” to the property, though the specific affected offices and employees haven’t yet been determined.

The move will “free up” space for patient services at its hospitals in Wilmington and Stanton, said Sharon Kurfuerst, chief operating officer.

“Christiana Care has administrative and support services staff located throughout the community in smaller sites,” she said. “Avenue North creates an opportunity for Christiana Care to consolidate many of these offices together, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.”

Another company, Delaware BioScience Association, announced last year that it would move its headquarters from the Delaware Technology Park in Newark to the Fairfax campus.

It was the first tenant to agree to a lease at the property.

Written by Karl Baker; Originally published in DelawareOnline.

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