underway to completely renovate one house and by summer the New
Knollwood Civic Association expects to begin work on three more.
seven right now and eventually we plan to do about 30," said
George Lossť, a member of the association's board of directors.
The proposed time frame is about
five or six years, but that is not firm. To a degree, the
success of the project could
extent. Overall effect of improving and selling a significant
number of houses is expected to be general improvement in
property values and encourage improve-to-sell ventures by
The association's goal is to
increase home ownership by providing attractive opportunities
for families that otherwise would rent to purchase a property.
The rehabilitated houses will be priced in the range of $40,000
to $50,000. To take advantage of a subsidized mortgage, the
purchaser will have to agree to live there for at least 10
years. At present, about 40% of the 150 houses in Knollwood are
Rehabilitation is being financed by
$625,000 from New Castle County, which Lossť explained is
structured as a revolving fund to be replenished as the
structures are finished and sold. The association believes it
has identified a qualified buyer of the first property.
New Knollwood Civic Association is rehabilitating this
house on Colby Drive -- the first of about 30 in the
community that it intends to fix up and sell.
that the plan is to acquire properties "as they become
available" either on the open market, through sheriff sales or
It is a
generally accepted principle that owner-occupied housing tends
to attract people who take a greater interest in their property
and to be better maintained, said Norma Zumsteg, a vice
president and community consultant for P.N.C. Bank Delaware. The
bank 'adopted' Knollwood in 1996 and has since been involved in
a variety of community programs and ventures.
'partnership' was formed, she said, "because we recognized the
potential here and saw the commitment to transform itself." That
effort has borne fruit in a variety of ways over the past few
years, she said.
is unusual among suburban developments in that it much older and
largely self-contained. It dates back to the early 20th Century
when it was constructed as company housing for what then was
Worth Steel Co. The original name was Worthland.
mergers and acquisitions, Worth Steel is now Citi Steel but,
except for having its office building at the entrance to the
community, the company has no ownership connection with the
community. In fact, according to Shirley Alloway, vice president
of the civic association, only about two or three Knollwood
residents work in the adjacent steel mill. There are also some
retired steelworkers who have been long-time residents.
very diverse community, but a tight-knit one," she said. "If
something happens, neighbors look out for each other and are
willing to lend a helping hand." The association claims about
25% of residents as active members, with community events
attracting about 60% of the some 500 to 600 residents.
also is isolated in the sense that it is separated from the rest
of Claymont by Interstate 495.
the houses are old -- built between 1910 and 1917 -- they are
good candidates for rehabilitation because they were so well
built, Zumsteg noted. The work involves essentially gutting them
and reconstructing the interior within the existing shell.
being rehabilitated is a semi-detached three-story tile and
stucco structure on Colby Drive. The three slated to be next are
part of a row of brick buildings on Denham Drive, two of which
have extensive fire damage. The other three that the association
owns also are on Denham.
Lossť noted that, although they all
were obviously built to last, the size, appearance and apparent
quality of the houses varies from street to street. That
reflects the fact that company housing was apportioned to
workers to a large extent on the basis of their jobs. "As you
moved up in the company, you moved around in where you lived
too," he explained. The largest houses in the community, where
supervisors once lived, were torn down to make way for I-495.