"The greatest opportunity [for
improvement] exists at the front end of Brookview," consultant
and town planner Tom Comitta told a
Renaissance meeting on Aug. 16.
his firm have proposed developing the stretch of Philadelphia
Pike between Seminole and Manor Avenues into a trendy area with
shops, restaurants and other amenities. It take seven and a half
minutes to walk at a normal pace and a round trip compares
nicely with the 15 to 20 minute average stop at a shopping
center, he said.
said Brookview's owners, Jack and Donna Clark and Jack Clark
Jr., were so receptive to the concept of upgrading their
facility and participating in the renovation program that his
firm has extended its notion of what could happen at the
property to include a larger area.
presented at the meeting showed a redesigned McComb Boulevard,
flanked by shops, leading to an 'entertainment center' where
Brookview's swimming pool used to be. Father north, opposite the
entrance to the Norbertine priory at Archmere Academy, would be
a similar pathway leading to an amphitheater. McComb Boulevard
is the access road from Philadelphia Pike into the apartments.
The 'entertainment center', Comitta said, could be a bowling
alley, skating rink or similar amenity.
things together, he said, would make Claymont "a destination and
a nice place to hang out."
the new front, Brookview would be rebuilt -- much the same way
as Paladin Club and Village at Fox Point, the former Clifton
Park and Kynlyn Apartments, respectively, have been -- with the
idea of providing age-restricted senior housing and residences
for young professionals. "Astra Zeneca is looking for places
where [some of] those people they are bringing here are going to
live," said County Councilman Robert Weiner.
addition to the Clarks, Weiner said, owners of the three other
properties that make up the existing commercial zone -- an
automotive muffler shop, a 'dollar store' and a strip of small
shops -- have expressed interest in and support for the
Renaissance. One of them, Tom Smith, whose family owns the strip
that extends from Smith Pharmacy, declared so at the meeting.
The Clarks have specifically declined to appear at any of the
included in Comitta's presentation was a suggestion that through
traffic be diverted from Philadelphia Pike by construction of an
additional or a replacement Interstate-495 interchange at the
Stockdale curve on Governor Printz Boulevard or between there
and Grubbs Landing Road.
said he is proceeding with legal research leading up to his
introducing a measure in County Council to rename Philadelphia
Pike. As previously reported by Delaforum, he proposes restoring
its Colonial-era name, The Kings Highway. Doing so, he said, is
a multi-step process which will require extensive public
involvement. One possible objection was raised at the meeting by
Martha Sheik, of the Claymont Historical Society, who reminded
the group that "we fought a revolution to get rid of the king."
Weiner's motivation is that the present name "advertises
someplace else [and] tells you that's where you want to go."
the references to the highway or traffic drew a specific
response from a large group of Delaware Department of
Transportation officials present at the meeting. They came after
the department yielded to a Weiner-led barrage of objections to
its attempt to form an advisory committee in conjunction with a
proposed 'safety improvements' plan for Philadelphia Pike.
councilman was careful in his references to DelDOT at the
meeting to portray the agency as a willing partner in the
Renaissance venture. "They have always had a presence in the
Renaissance; now they have a bigger presence. Their safety
elements will fit in with our 'streetscaping' planning," he
this is a partnership. We have been 100% supportive of this (the
Renaissance) all along," declared DelDOT planning official Ralph
Reeb. "Safety is an issue. For all of us, it is an important
issue but it can't be the only issue."
Renaissance steering committee objected to the safety program on
the grounds that its understanding is that safety improvements
mean widening and otherwise upgrading the road to permit
vehicles to travel faster. The Renaissance wants Philadelphia
Pike, by whatever name it is eventually known, to be
'pedestrian-friendly'. Comitta's plan envisions lining it with
212 trees between Perkins Run and Naamans Road.
noted that the combination of the pike, Governor Printz and
Interstate-95 and -495 make Claymont unusual in having four
major highways in a relatively small geographic area. Even
considering through traffic, "that's a lot more than we need,"
Ames, a history professor at the University of Delaware, said
the initial Renaissance area would be a good spot for a state
visitor center. Having one there would be far more productive
than the existing one on the Delaware Turnpike, he said.
had a mixture of good news and bad for the group. He said a
proposal for a $100,000 federal transportation grant was
contained in a measure passed by the U.S. Senate but is not in
the House of Representatives bill. With efforts by Congressman
Michael Castle to insert it having apparently failed, the matter
will end up in a conference committee charged with reconciling
the two versions of the legislation and U.S. Senator Joseph
Biden has begun an effort to see that it is retained in the
final version of the law.
that money, he said, will give the Renaissance a quarter million
dollars to work with -- "something we never thought possible
when we began a year ago."
Weiner said he will discuss, in his
role as County Council's land use chairman, possible design
concepts to mitigate the probable placement of a Wawa Dairies
'superstore' at the site of the former Brosius & Eliason Co.
store at Philadelphia Pike and Harvey Road. The firm has been
receptive to designing outlets elsewhere to conform with
community amenity standards, he said.