that Claymont hasn't been business-friendly is wrong," George Lossť, president of the Claymont Community Coalition and
chairman of the Claymont Renaissance steering committee, told a
recent meeting of the leaders of areawide civic organizations.
others have cited the coming of a Wawa gasoline station and
convenience store and a Dunkin' Donuts shop, the replacement of
a McDonald's fast-food restaurant with a new one, and total
renovation of what long ago was a variety store into a
combination retail establishment and apartments as evidence of
plan now is to follow receptivity to such development with a
serious campaign to attract significant additional investment.
about to roll out the red carpet. We expect development to
snowball soon," said Brett Saddler, president of the Claymont
Business Owners Association and the recently-formed Claymont
Renaissance Development Corp.
presentation before the monthly meeting of the civic leaders
convened by County Executive Tom Gordon and chief administrative
officer Sherry Freebery, Saddler said there have already been
some preliminary contacts with prospective developers. "Our
target market is the Philadelphia region. The tax rate in
southeastern Pennsylvania is unbelievable and it's easier to get
to center city [Philadelphia] and the airport from here than it
is from northeast Philadelphia," he said.
expected, County Council on Oct. 12 unanimously approved ordinances
providing 'hometown' overlays for both Claymont and Hockessin.
Councilman Robert Weiner, who sponsored the enabling ordinance,
said it provides an avenue for "a community that is looking
forward to its revitalization."
James Smith, assistant
general manager of
Pike, shown here at its intersection with Seminole
Avenue, is slated to become Claymont's 'Main St.' A
highway safety improvement project will include
planting trees and other landscaping, part of an
effort to give the community a village atmosphere
and promote pedestrian traffic. The building at the
left is being renovated.
the Department of Land Use,
said 'hometown' zoning is intended to "encourage redevelopment
of relatively large areas where infrastructure already exists."
an historic context, the new arrangement confers identity on
places, like Claymont and Hockessin, which predate suburbia but,
until now, have not had a formal existence. They will remain
unincorporated in the legal sense, but will have an identity
along with a measure of control over their future.
overlay is an additional classification imposing zoning and
land-use conditions supplementing or superseding the
requirements of an area's basic zoning classifications. With
'hometown' that involves requiring future development to comply
with published design guidelines and meet some specifications
regarding such things as setbacks, parking, buffers and the like
which differ from those imposed by the Unified Development Code.
Existing properties are not covered unless major changes in
their use or appearance are proposed.
Development plans will still require approval by the Department
of Land Use and in some cases County Council, but are subject to
an advisory process conducted by an unpaid design review
advisory committee -- already being tagged with the
pronounceable acronym 'drac' -- made up of community residents
appointed by the county executive. It is anticipated, however,
that there will be considerable prior discussion of and
negotiation about features of the proposals before the committee
decides on its recommendations.
to serve on the Claymont committee whose names have been
submitted to Gordon are: John DiCostanza of
Joe & Tony's Service station, to be chairman; Thomas Comitta, the
Renaissance's urban planning consultant, to be vice chairman; Carolyn Mercandante
of the Claymont Historical Society; Frank Brevoort of Princeton Arms Apartments;
Thomas DeCristofaro of the Claymont Fire Company; Vernalee Frey of Claymont
Hardware; Carol Sloan of Sun Oil; Lossť; and Saddler.
included promoting residential development as a major component
of what the development corporation plans. "We need affordable
housing so young couples can afford to buy and live in a village
atmosphere," he told County Council.
meeting with civic leaders, Lossť said replacement of the
Brookview Apartments complex is a key element of future plans.
"Redevelopment of Claymont has a lot to do with what happens
there," he said.
however, actually enacted a substitute version of the ordinance
which dropped the area occupied by Brookview from what had been
proposed in the original version to be the overlay area. That
was done, Lossť told Delaforum, in order to keep the apartment
complex under the full purview of the Unified Development Code
because that "is more restrictive than what we will have" under
cited composition of the development corporation's board of
directors as reflective of the level of its
development-recruitment effort. Directors are: Rich Heffron of
the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Beverly Baxter of the
Committee of 100, Barbara Necarsulmer of the Small Business
Development Center, Scott Riegel of Riegel Properties, David
Ames of the University of Delaware, Vandell Hampton of First
State Community Loan Fund, Dale Ervin of the New Castle County
Economic Development Council, Eileen Lowell of J.P. Morgan Chase
& Co., John Gilbert of the law firm of Heckler & Frabizzo, Dan
Lesher of Patterson Woods Commercial Propoerties, Mercandante,
and Lossť. In addition to Saddler, the officers are: Scott
Traister of Edward Jones Investments, DiConstanza and Sloan.
said enactment of 'hometown' zoning was the culmination of an
effort begun in 2000 when Gordon provided a grant of $25,000 to
enable the coalition, business owners association and historical
society to launch the Renaissance. He noted that Weiner has
spearheaded the movement and been instrumental in raising money
for it. The county Department of Land Use and Delaware
Department of Transportation have also provided considerable
support, he said.
said at the community leaders meeting that Claymont's having "a
large group that has worked together for so long" was
instrumental in bringing the Renaissance movement to this point.
looking forward to approving things that are going to happen in
Claymont," Lossť said.