redevelopment of the Brookview Apartments complex
apparently on a fast track to necessary rezoning and
ultimate approval of the subdivision plan, the
Claymont Design Review Advisory Committee was told a
potentially more spectacular encore may be in the
One of three parcels Citi
Steel has put up for sale is a vacant 135-acre tract
fronting on the Delaware River which could be developed into
a mixed-use complex with residences, retail outlets and
other commercial establishments, and offices, according to
County Councilman Robert Weiner.
Potential developers "are
beginning to see the possibilities" emanating from the
community effort to rejuvenate Claymont, he said. "We took a
property worth $8 million and made it worth $32 million, he
added, with reference to Brookview.
The other Citi Steel tracts,
he said, are 54 acres on Naamans Road adjacent to the
company's scrap metal yard and 30 acres at Naamans Road and
Philadelphia Pike across from the Robinson House.
If developed, the Claymont
waterfront could easily rival, if not surpass, the success
of riverfront development along the Christina in Wilmington,
For that to happen and for
other element of Claymont's redevelopment to proceed as
hoped, some fundamental attitude adjustment will be needed,
Councilman John Cartier told the committee meeting on May
He singled out Governor Ruth
Ann Minner's inclusion of Claymont among purported
accomplishments of her 'Livable Delaware' initiative during
a recent presentation. "What has the state done for [us]?
I'm tired of their not participating and then trying to take
credit for something [with which] they're not involved," he
Meanwhile, he noted, the
National Association of Counties selected the Claymont
Renaissance movement and the Claymont Renaissance
Development Corporation as one of 10 recipients of its
2005-06 'Sustainable Communities Award'. Claymont ranked in
the top four in the judging for the award, a distinction
which carried with it a $5,000 prize.
Cartier said the New Castle
County Department of Special Services is lagging by not
accelerating the providing of sanitary sewer capacity to
accommodate demonstrated interest in economic development in
Claymont. "They really don't have an idea about our sewer
capacity. It's like they're in a dense fog," he said. "There
must be no effort spared to bring sewer capacity to
In response to Cartier's
remarks, the committee enacted a resolution requesting the
special services department, New Castle County government's
public works agency, the be represented by someone
conversant with the Brandywine Hundred sewer projecect at
future advisory committee meetings. A Department of Land Use
representative attends its meetings.
He predicted uncontested
approval by County Council of the Commonwealth-Setting joint
venture application to rezone the Brookview property to
permit a combination of residential and commercial
development. That will happen, he said when Council meets in
June for the second of three times it will consider
rezoning ordinances this year.
The Planning Board considered
the application at a recent meeting, but Delafourm has been
unable to learn what it decided to recommend concerning the
Rezoning, Cartier said, will
be accompanied by approval of a first-of-it-kind development
agreement with the county which provides for there to be 120
so-called 'affordable housing' units among the 1,200
residential units planned for Brookview. They will sell in
the $165,000 range with other units in the community priced
between $300,000 and $400,000.
The joint venture also has
agreed to build another 120 'affordable' units at various
locations throughout New Castle County. Of those, about 40
will be built in Knollwood.
Weiner said it is possible
that some 'affordable' units will be included in Benchmark
Builders' plans for the site of the former Children's Home
on Green Street. Although it has been general knowledge for
several weeks that that firm is acquiring the property, its
owner, the Catholic diocese, has denied through a spokesman
that a sales agreement has been reached and Benchmark also
is close-mouthed about the deal.
The committee also was told
at its meeting that another impediment to redevelopment is
the slow pace at which proposals move through the county's
Darren DeMars, of Ameriprise
Financial, which acquired the historic Weldin House, on
Philadelphia Pike near Bellefonte, early this year, said the
firm is anxious to renovate the structure for use as the
office of its financial consulting business, but has been
hampered not only be the pace of the process but also by
lack of guidance about how to proceed. "We're hearing
different things from everybody," he said.
Cartier said there is "a lack
of common sense" in attempting to apply current development
criteria to historic properties which, in the case of the
Weldin House, date back to the 18th Century. "We can have
our heritage and economic development" if reasonable
accommodation is allowed, he said.
The committee also was
presented with a draft of a proposed addition to the design
guidelines it was established to help enforce by Jennifer
Leister of the land use department. They call for signs the
be "architecturally integrated" into the buildings they
advertise. The various provisions deal with allowable sizes,
lighting and content standards.
It also was reported at the
meeting that Wawa is being fined $1,500 a month for failure
to comply with an earlier agreement to repaint the façade of
its convenience store at Philadelphia Pike and Harvey Road.