extensive community plan envisions creating, in a compact area
between Seminole Avenue and Darley Road, a shopping and eating
'attraction' which previously has been presented as a
small-scale version of the trendy Manyunk section of
and an accompanying Manual of Design Guidelines, which were
distributed on July 29 by the county Department of Land Use,
posted on the department's Web site and made available in the
Claymont branch library, are the culmination of a four-year
effort by the Claymont Renaissance, an hoc movement originated
by the Claymont Community Coalition, the Claymont Historical
Society and the Claymont Business Owners Association.
The plan is largely the work of West
Chester, Pa.-based Thomas Comitta Associations, which has
been town planning
consultant to the both the Renaissance and the land
use department. Thomas Comitta was largely
responsible for the Manyunk redevelopment project
several years ago.
The documents are an
intrinsic part of an ordinance before County Council
establishing a 'hometown overlay' which would
empower an advisory board of community residents and
business persons to judge future development
proposals on the basis of how they dovetail with the
plan. Existing properties would not come under the
board's jurisdiction although the plan envisions
owners voluntarily bringing them more or less into
line with the standards.
The ordinance will be
the subject of a public hearing before the county
Planning Board on Aug. 3 beginning at 7 p.m. in the
Redding Building in downtown Wilmington.
recommendations from the Planning Board and land use
department, County Council is scheduled to act on
proposed to be included in the Claymont 'hometown'
zoning and a similar proposal from Hockessin in October when it
next takes up rezoning ordinances.
Claymont plan divides the proposed overlay zone into three
segments. In addition to Claymont Center at the northern end,
where "a critical mass of shopping and pedestrian activities"
would be located, there would be a Neighborhood Transition Area
, where "medium- to high-density development" would be allowed,
surrounding it on both sides of the pike and running south to
Alden Road; and what is referred to as the Edge, between Alden
Road and Perkins Run, where there would be low- to
progression from Claymont Center to the Edge is accomplished
through the design of the public realm of the street as well as
through appropriate massing, scale and architectural design of
the buildings," the plan said.
first time in the course of public discussion, the plan sets
forth a specific date in noting that "by 2013, the Claymont
community sees itself as having an attractive and desirable
downtown where you can take your family in a traditional
for its inclusion within the Neighborhood Transition Area, the
plan has no explicit reference to the Brookview Apartments
complex, which in many meetings of the Renaissance steering
committee has been referred to as the keystone in potential
redevelopment. The plan does speak to "provid[ing] attractive,
affordable and diverse housing to complement the revitalization
of Claymont while promoting an incrase in home ownership
existing properties, the plan's goals include "enhanc[ing] the
neighborhood character of Claymont, focus[ing] on property
maintenance, upgraded appearance of historic areas, [and] the
addition of attractive signage to promote neighborhood pride."
element of redevelopment would be the planned Delaware
Department of Transportation safety and improvement project
along Philadelphia Pike.
to the pike as "Claymont's 'main street'," the plan said the
roadway currently "presents a rather 'rough' appearance." It
endorses such things as 'streetscape' enhancement, provision of
marked crosswalks, traffic-calming devices such as bugles at
intersections and reduction of the number of access points other
access in the Claymont Center commercial area would be by way of
alleys behind the buildings, where there also would be provision
for parking. Depicted on one of the maps included in the plan
are 'Claymont Alley' and 'Adams Alley'.
guidelines document contains an extensive catalog of provisions
illustrated by what are described as graphics "intended to
illustrate the objectives of the guidelines [but] not intended
to illustrate how to meet requirements." The provisions are
alternately referred to as 'guidelines' and 'standards'.
to be used in judging proposed development include
"compatibility with surrounding uses in terms of scale and
adherence to the traditional architectural styles and
materials." New and remodeled buildings are expected to fit in
with their surroundings to the extent that a common front or
devices giving the appearance of a common front are called for.
envisioned, particularly in the Claymont Center area, that
buildings will not be set back from the sidewalk. Another nod to
historic ambiance is reference to buildings having street-level
stores with office space and living quarters on the second- and,
if there is one, the third level.
features as public art, decorative as well as functional
lighting, sidewalk benches and sheltered bus stops are included
among the communal elements in the guidelines.
building compatibility and interconnectivity are accented, the
guidelines say that no specific architectural styles are neither
designated as preferred nor excluded. But it does list several
provisions as pitched roofs, "pedestrian-scale" façades and use
of "traditional materials ... such as brick, stone and stucco"
as elements of "good urban design."
economic development as a necessary element of "sustainable
growth" and recognizing the newly formed nonprofit Claymont
Renaissance Development Corporation as the instrument for
achieving that, the plan declares that it "will not stifle
commercial, residential and industrial growth." But it goes on
to say that such growth should preserve and enhance "the
character of ... existing historic neighborhoods."
for continuation of what it refers to as four-year cooperative
community effort, as the result of which "Claymont serves as a
shining example of civic participation in community issues."