A new Wegmans grocery store proposed for the site of the old DuPont Barley Mill office complex, just outside Wilmington, is one step closer to becoming a reality.
At its meeting Tuesday night, New Castle County Council gave the green-light for a traffic waiver,
"I'm really excited about this," New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer told WDEL's Del-AWARE with Allan Loudell. "It's a great store and a great family-owned business."
The Rochester, New York-based company signed a lease with Pettinaro Development to build a store at the intersection of Lancaster Pike and Barley Mill Road. The $135 million project would anchor the mixed-use development, which would include other retail, two office buildings, apartments, and townhouses as well as 11 acres of green space.
"I think we can all agree the property is currently obsolete, dated, and it's a very under-utilized 1980s office park. In its current state it is not a benefit to the community or a broader New Castle County, and that is both aesthetically, and economically," said Michael J. Hoffman, an attorney for Tarabicos Grosso LLP, representing Pettinaro Development, at the meeting on October 22, 2019.
Meyer said it's time for that change.
"This is also a great story about Barley Mill - a former DuPont facility that really for over 15 years has been in disrepair...not utilized in any productive way. It's an opportunity to redevelop something into a property that's meaningful to the residents of the county," Meyer said.
"Wegmans is set up to hire about 400 people, so we think the overall permanent jobs or full and part-time jobs will be somewhere between 400 and 1300 when it's all said and done," developer Greg Pettinaro said when the project was announced last February. "We'll probably have between 400 and 500 construction jobs for about three or four year period."
The project was approved by The New Castle County Board of Adjustment last June. Board Chair David Burt said during that meeting that they received a ream of emails in support of the project from residents, proving Delawareans want a Wegmans.
Some residents did speak against the project at a public hearing, citing traffic concerns and open space needs; others expressed support for the plan.
The developer received a traffic waiver as part of New Castle County Council's vote though stressed its making improvements recommended in a traffic study to the intersections of Faukland Road and Route 141 and Centerville Road and Lancaster Pike. Five new bus stops will also be proposed as part of the proposal.
"Although we are seeking level of service waivers for these three intersections, that does not mean gridlock," noted Hoffman. "DelDOT improvements are focusing on multi-modal transportation, promoting walk-ability and bike-ability, something this project is emphasizing as well."
In pleading his case, Hoffman said:
"If this property is redeveloped under current approvals and continues to be an office complex, intersection wait times will not improve, and in fact, they will mostly worsen. Two, if the property remains vacant, the failing intersections will continue to fall short of the levels of service standard, but we'd also be working away from the county's goal of promoting responsible redevelopment."
No rezoning was necessary for the project.
"This tired 1980s office complex should be brought back to productive use as a vibrant, mixed use community consistent with county policies, county goals, and county objectives," said Hoffman.
It's hoped the new Wegmans would open in the spring of 2022. It would be located 8.5 miles south of the company's existing store in Concord Township, Pennsylvania.