Town planning consultant Thomas
Comitta cautioned that the latest proposal -- a modification of
previous versions intended to make the project commercially
marketable -- is in "a very preliminary form." However, he put
forth an ambitious timetable calling for it to be "refined"
following a public 'workshop' on Mar. 8 and presented in final
consensus form at the May 15 meeting of the steering
The 'workshop' will run for 9 a.m. until noon in the Brandywine
The steering committee expects soon
to hire David Wilk, of Greystone Realty Advisors, to interest
one or more developers to take on the project. That would
indicate the initial phase of the Renaissance could begin moving
from the purely conceptual stage toward become reality as early
"Some say this is pie-in-the-sky --
it will never happen in Claymont. But look what happened in
Manayunk," County Councilman Robert Weiner said at a
(right) and Stephanie D'Alleva, a member of his staff,
explain the latest proposal for building an 'urban
village' in Claymont.
committee meeting on Feb. 20. Manayunk, formerly an industrial
section of Philadelphia, has been transformed into a trendy
'destination'. Comitta was the professional planner involved in
all the elements that will make this work," Weiner said, but
cautioned that it "needs broad-based community support" for that
Lossé, president of the coalition, one of the sponsors of the
Renaissance, announced that that organization was the first to
apply for a portion of the $250,000 which county government is
making available to umbrella civic organizations, such as the
coalition, to finance professional planning and related
later told Delaforum that the application did not specify an
amount being sought. James Smith, of the county Department of
Land Use, which is administering the grants program, said that
amounts will be determined based on priorities to be
established, probably in April, at a meeting of County Executive
Tom Gordon with representatives of the umbrella groups. Apr. 1
is the deadline for applying for the grants.
noted that it was county 'seed money' provided by Gordon at the
behest of Weiner "which got us started." It was used in 2000 to
and members of his West Chester, Pa.-based planning form,
outlined a proposal to rebuild the stretch along Philadelphia
Pike between Seminole Avenue and Darley Road as "an urban
village." Mostly it would involve replacing the Brookview
apartment and townhouse development with mostly upscale housing.
Avenue would be extended westward across Philadelphia Pike.The
most recent earlier plan called for using McComb Blvd., the
entrance into Brookview as the axis for commercial and civic
activities complex, including an amphitheater.
would replace only the front part of Brookview. The new plan
calls for a combination of commercial and residential uses
fronting on the Pike with the rest of Brookview becoming the
location for three- and four-story apartment buildings.
amphitheater does not appear in the plan, but it does show a
group of buildings with undefined uses opposite the entrance to
explained that the design was influenced by an effort to balance
commercial use with residential units in a ratio which enables
the latter to justify and support the former. Approximately
50,000 square feet of commercial space in the new plan, down
from 65,000 square feet in the earlier version, requires 1,250
residential units, he said.
Multi-family residential buildings are the only way to fit that
number of units into the area now occupied by Brookview, which
has 630 units, he said. When Lossé questioned the wisdom
of introducing more than 600 new rental units into
Claymont, Comitta said they could be occupant-owned condominiums
instead of apartments.
suggested that providing units restricted to occupants over age
55 as well as some that would be attractive to people being
transferred into Brandywine Hundred by Astra Zeneca would meet
two current area needs.
Cassidy, a member of Comitta's staff, said an obvious problem
involved with fitting sufficient residences into relatively
limited space is the requirement to provide for parking.
When combined with the need to accommodate the proposed
commercial area as well as two cars for each residential unit,
it adds up to 3,140 parking spaces on roughly 22˝ acres,
he said. Although expensive, parking garages and underground
parking are possibilities, he added.
plan also calls for modifying Delaware Department of
Transportation's proposal for rebuilding Philadelphia Pike.
Specifically it asks for the segment between the intersection
with Governor Printz Boulevard and the interchange with
Interstate 495 not include a landscaped median and additional
not going to get a town center if you offer it an
industrial-strength highway," Comitta said. He explained that
could be resolved, at least in part, by eliminating the need for
left turns to access the commercial establishments. They would
be served, instead, by an alley at the rear of properties
fronting on the Pike.
Allen, the DelDOT official directing the planning for the
Philadelphia Pike project, indicated that the plan could be
acceptable as long as it continued to provide for four vehicle
travel lanes. Throughout the parallel planning efforts there has
been a divergence of interests between creating a
'pedestrian-friendly' environment and providing for motor
vehicle travel through the area.
the good plans we have worked on have involved
compromise," Comitta said.