Once it claimed to
be the largest commercial building owned by an individual
person; the runners-up among the 'big three' chemical companies
called it home; and a maverick millionaire ran an upstart bank
there. Come September, the venerable Delaware Trust Building
will provide upscale living quarters for a range of tenants from
yuppies to empty nesters.
Sharla Dick, project manager for the
Buccini-Pollin Group, told attenders at a preview event on June
11 to show off sample apartments that 150 applications for
the 280 units have been received and that she expects the
charter roster of residents to number nearly 50 when the first
two of 12 floors are ready for occupancy around Labor Day.
Rents will run from $790 a month for
a 'studio' apartment to $2,000 for a penthouse suite.
Ted Blunt, president of Wilmington
City Council, said that is anticipated to contribute to
significantly "increase the number of people [living] in
downtown Wilmington." The building at Ninth and Market Streets
.hopes to emulate the former Nemours Building nearby which
apparently has been successful in attracting tenants.
Even as he and Dick spoke,
construction crews continued to work to meet what seemed like a
daunting timetable. Fewer than 90 days to go and there obviously
was much to do. Vintage building erected in 1921, especially for
a bank and the corporate elite, do not yield easily to change.
As it happens,
Buccini-Pollin has decided to join rather than fight the
historic past. There will be no attempt to disguise the
building's former life. The classic banking floor becomes the
'great room' -- a gathering area similar to a hotel lobby. The
inlaid griffins -- Delaware Trust's trademark -- will stay as
will the rosettes that adorn the ceiling. The vault floor below
will be a large fitness center with one of the original vaults
glassed off for display. Even the silver plaques that identified
the bank entrance will remain, although the main doors will be
the next ones up the street.
Only the name will
be changed -- to Residences at Rodney Square.
Workmen cross what
used to be Delaware Trust Co.'s lobby. The bank was
founded by William du Pont to rival Wilmington Trust, the
'family's bank'. Unlike its erstwhile cousin,
Delaware Trust did not survive the merger mania that
dominated the banking business. Nor did its successor,
Core States, reopen after a fire on the 14th floor in 1997
which shut down the building. The lobby will retain the
spiral staircase and other featurres as it becomes the
apartment building's signature 'great room'.