local-service train stop there almost certainly would be
followed in quick order by the long-sought redevelopment of the
nearly empty Merchants Square along Governor Printz Boulevard
and contribute to a general enhancement of residential property
values in the area, according to Chris Koyste, president of the
civic organization. Rail service also would offer a viable
alternative transportation option for many people who live in
"We need it ... if we're evidently
going to accomplish what we see as necessary for the future of
this area," he said. Beyond the immediate area, he added, "we
see this as vital for the economic growth of New Castle County
and the overall
First step in the association's
effort, he said, will be to convince county and state officials
that the idea has merit. A petition drive to that end has been
Koyste said the apparent success of
extending the Septa R-2 rail line to Newark and building a new
station on the Delaware Park property at Churchmans Crossing has
made it clear that providing direct rail service in the area
immediately north of Wilmington is an idea whose time has come.
There is a station at Claymont.
long-idle tire outlet on Governor Printz Boulevard
opposite Merchants Square is seen as a likely site of a
new Edgemoor railroad station. The railroad runs behind
the building below the towers supporting the electricity
The petition asks that Edgemoor be
given priority in connection with any move to increase
Delaware's participation in the Pennsylvania authority's system.
Delaware Transit Corp., a unit of the Delaware Department of
Transportation, partners with Septa in subsidizing service on
the Delaware leg of the rail line.
Delaware Transit's long-range
business plan already includes a recommendation that a
major study of the feasibility of putting a station in the
Edgemoor-Fox Point Park area be conducted in fiscal year 2003.
Association has zeroed in on the long idle former motion picture
theater and tire store between Governor Printz and the Amtrak
right of way. Septa uses the Amtrak tracks for its line, which
runs through center-city Philadelphia to Warminster, Pa. That
property, like Merchants Square, is owned by a corporate entity
associated with developer Frank Acierno.
said the Fox Point Association proposal has not been discussed
with Acierno nor his representative because no one from the
Acierno organization has deigned "to return any of my phone
calls for more than a year." Delaforum was similarly
unsuccessful when seeking comment.
station would make [private redevelopment] so attractive, it
would almost have to happen," he said.
Koyste, who is a lawyer, said he has looked into the possibility
of having the Acierno properties condemned for public use and
concluded that both the county and the state have that power.
"If they were willing to go that route, it would just be a
matter of letting a court determined what the property is
worth," he said.
there have been several proposals in recent years for
redevelopment of Merchants Square, which long-time residents
know as Wilmington Merchandise Mart, the civic leader said
the one which seems to make most sense at this point would be a
combination of office development and service and retail outlets
to serve the businesses located in the offices and the people
who work there.
office complex would be within walking distance of the railroad
station as would the communities of Edgemoor Terrace and Paladin
Club. Edgewood Hills and Gordon Heights are also close. It would
be handy to north Wilmington and all of southeastern Brandywine
Hundred, he said. Just as M.B.N.A. Bank provides employee
transportation between the Churchmans Crossing station and its
Ogletown-area facilities, so too could firms in the Bellevue
Corporate Center, he said.
said that, unlike the traditional concept of commuting into a
big city in the morning and returning in the evening, service
through Edgemoor would work both ways. By way of example, he
said a professional working in Philadelphia could live at
Paladin Club and someone living in Delaware County, Pa., could
easily commute to an office in Merchants Square. A University of
Delaware student living in Edgemoor could take a train to
classes in Newark. Travel to downtown Wilmington and the
Christina Riverfront would be easy.
a train station at Edgemoor which was used by the old
Pennsylvania Railroad on its Wilmington-Chester Local line
through the 1960s. Located in the midst of what it now the
Edgemoor interchange with Interstate 495, it was torn down when
that connection was built in the late 1980s.
boosters said 15 years ago that the highway interchange was the
key to revitalization and certain to awake interest in Merchants
Square. The idea then was to have it house factory-outlet stores
which were said likely to attract customers from afar by way of
the Interstates. That didn't happen.
said he thinks the reason was that the interchange idea was
conceived in isolation. "There was no strategic plan for
economic development to follow [building of] the interchange,"
in favor of the rail-station project at this time, he said, is
the increasing interest in so-called intermodal solutions to not
only transportation problems but related concerns such as air
He said Fox Point Association is not
adverse to other rail-related proposals, such as the idea of
having a railroad connection linked to a marina in Fox Point
State Park. "We're certainly not opposed to that, but we think
if it's a choice, it would be better here than in a park," he