Christiana Mall representatives presented their plans to construct a 109,000 square foot expansion that would accommodate the hunting, fishing and outdoor goods store Cabela's to New Castle County Council's Land Use Committee Tuesday afternoon.
By and large, the Land Use Committee's reaction to the development proposal was favorable.
This would be the first foray of the Nebraska-based Cabela's into Delaware. The chain currently operates 38 stores across America and Canada.
And it would be the last expansion of Christiana Mall barring the acquisition of more property, said Christiana Mall land use attorney Larry Tarabicos, of the Tarabicos Grosso law firm.
"They've been a good client," he said, with some chagrin.
The 109,000 square foot expansion for Cabela's would occur on the east side of Del. Route 1 and the south of Interstate 95, Tarabicos said. The plan also includes an 850 square foot expansion to the main mall.
Tarabicos said the plan was ready to go in December, but Christiana Mall had to wait on the Delaware Department of Transportation to approve the mall's plans to enhance transportation on the site. Those enhancements would include the addition of sheltered DART bus stops to accommodate the significant number of city of Wilmington and other commuters taking the bus to the mall, he said.
NCCo Councilman Bob Weiner (R-Chatham) said he was glad to hear of the bus stop enhancements for those who could not afford their own cars to get to the mall or anyone who wished to use transit in lieu of driving.
Councilman David Tackett (D-Christiana) said he always found the loop road around the mall hazardous as he drove his wife or daughters to the mall.
Tarabicos said the loop road would be enhanced as part of this project to make entry to the mall and exit from the mall safer.
Councilman Jea Street (D-Wilmington South) asked if the mall would increase its lighting for this project and also asked about safety at the mall.
Tarabicos said Christiana Mall's $200 million expansion about 10 years ago had improved the mall's ambiance and, furthermore, the mall had hired Delaware State Police troopers to be at the mall full time.
As for lighting, the mall's lighting standard was twice that required by county code, said Jim Whitcome, General Growth Properties, Inc.director of development for the East Region.He also said the mall took security seriously because it would do the mall no good if people did not feel safe there.
Councilman Bill Bell (D-Middletown) said Cabela's had looked previously at the Middletown area, but he was glad the retail chain found a home at Christiana Mall.
Councilmen John Cartier (D-Penny Hill) and Penrose Hollins (D-Wilmington North) said the mall was a tremendous asset to New Castle County and were glad to see continuing investment.
Page 2 of 2 - Land Use Chairman Councilman Joseph Reda (D-Elsmere) agreed.
"I'm glad it's in my district," he said.
Cabela's anticipates beginning construction in 2013 and opening the Christiana Mall store in 2014.