plan for Renaissance Village
revisions to the Renaissance Village development plan --
evidently intended to make the huge project more attractive in
the current real estate market --- are under review by the
county Department of Land Use.
president of Urban Atlantic, told the Claymont Design Review
Advisory Committee that the plan envisions building seven kinds
of structures on the 68-acre site. It is still intended to have
1,226 residential units, she said, but the mix would be
different from what was in the plan which received final
approval from County Council a year ago. There also would be
57,000 square feet of retail and office space, an increase from
41,704 square feet in the approved plan.
executive vice president of Commonwealth Group, said the
developers remain committed to fulfilling their obligation to
have 10% of the residential units in the project qualify as
'affordable', or 'workforce', housing. Under terms of the
development agreement with county government, he said, the 2007
top selling price for those units, $170,000, escalates annually
by 5%. That puts the ceiling at $185,000 in 2009, when the first
units are likely to come onto the market, he said.
Scott Nordheimer, a
senior advisor with Urban Atlantic, drew some adverse reaction
at the meeting on May 28 when he said 90% of the residences in
Renaissance Village will be 'affordable'. He went on to say the
company defines 'affordable' as being within the means of
households earning between 80% and 150% of median household
income in the general area.
member George Lossť questioned that, Nordheimer declared, "We're
not [planning on] building low-income housing." Further
discussion put the expected average selling price of the
residential units into the $250,000-to-$300,000 range. Rental
units would go for around $1,400 a month.
Those prices "are
consistent with what Commonwealth thinks the market to be," Davis said
She added that
Urban Atlantic, which specializes in 'new urbanist' development, would
be adverse to doing anything to "bring about economic segregation."
Urban Atlantic is described as 'co-developer' with the
Commonwealth-Setting Realty joint venture.
If the new plan
passes muster with the advisory committee, the land use
department, the county planning board and County Council,
construction will begin with a set of 'live-work' buildings at the entrance to the
new community at Philadelphia Pike and an extended Manor Avenue.
Davis described that phase as including the entire retail space in
six structures. Five of the buildings would have
restaurants and the like on the ground floor with 245
'class A' apartments above them. Atop one retail establishment would be medical or other commercial
One of two planned
community buildings, which initially would be used as a sales
and management office, would be built behind the office complex.
Also to be built would be a two-level parking garage.
Ground-level parking would be for patrons of the shops and the
14-foot-high upper deck would serve the apartment residents.
that construction, an unspecified number of townhouses and other
residential units would be built on the Darley Road side of the
property. Because that kind of construction moves more quickly,
she said some of those units probably would be the first to be
Davis was vague
about intended timing, saying only that current thinking is to
begin building in late autumn or early winter. The first two sections
could take up to two years to complete, she said. The rest of
the community would be built in phases, extending out from
development, hosing types would include four-story townhouses;
condominiums designed to attract older residents; 'triplexes'
which would be single-story 'flats' with two-story townhouses
above them; 'manor' apartments; and single-family detached
houses to serve as a transition with adjacent Ashbourne Hills.
A major change
between the original plan and the proposed new one is the
inclusion of garages within some of the structures. Most of the
outdoor parking areas in the centers of residential blocks in
the original plan would be redesigned as green space. The
originally planned parkway-style extension of Green Street
through the western side of the development would, instead, be
built as a narrower roadway with abutting green space.
Davis claimed the
revised plan was little more than "tweaking [with] subtle
changes" the original one. "The framework is almost identical to
the one in the original plan," she said.
She said the
changes are intended to fit a variety of lifestyles and tastes.
Starting with the retail establishments and apartments, she
explained, is intended to "set the tone" for the overall
community. Prospective residents who are interested in locating
there would be hesitant to be "the first to buy," but "a person
who can afford the rent [later] can afford to buy," she said.
committee took no action at the meeting because inclusion of the
topic on its agenda had not been advertised in compliance with
the open meeting law. Discussion leading to a committee
recommendation will be included on the agenda for its June 25
meeting, according to Mary Grace Novak, the committee's liaison
with the land use department. It also will be a topic at a Claymont Community Coalition meeting on June 19,
coalition president Lossť said.