Middletown Transcript
  • Vision 2014: Construction season enters full bloom in M.O.T.

  • Spring officially arrived last week and that means a host of construction projects will soon be starting throughout the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area.
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  • Spring officially arrived last week and that means a host of construction projects will soon be starting throughout the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area.
    Here in our Visions section, we’ve compiled a list of development efforts that are underway, slated begin in the coming months or could be just on the horizon.
    They include eight commercial developments, two new schools, a large-scale residential community, a mental health treatment center and three infrastructure improvement projects:
    COST Undisclosed
    START DATE Underway
    COMPLETION Early summer
    An Advance Auto Parts is currently under construction next to KFC in the Middletown Market Place Shopping Center at the northeast corner of West Main Street and U.S. Route 301.
    The new 6,895-square-foot, stand-alone store will be the newest location for the Roanoke, Va., company regarded as the nation’s largest retailer of automotive replacement parts and accessories. Advance Auto Parts currently has close to 4,000 locations, including nine in Delaware.
    Middletown Town Council approved a final site plan for Advance Auto Parts in October.
    COST Undisclosed
    START DATE Possibly April
    COMPLETION Late summer/early fall
    A new 13,281-square-foot CVS Pharmacy will be built this spring on a 15.5-acres parcel at the southwest corner of Del. Route 299 and Gloucester Boulevard, in front of the Middletown Police Department.
    The new business, which will employ about 20 people, will be the first of three, standalone stores in what will eventually become the Willow Grove shopping center.
    Property owner Fusco Properties also will add a right turn late off of Route 299 to access the new shopping center, which will located on the other side of Gloucester Boulevard from Wawa and across Route 299 from the Middletown Emergency Department.
    Fusco Properties won final approval of its site plan from Middletown Town Council in February. The project is currently awaiting Delaware Department of Transportation final approvals for its planned roadway improvements.
    COST $18.5 million
    START DATE Underway
    COMPLETION November
    After three years of legal and political wrangling, HealthSouth Corp. recently began construction of a 48,000-square-foot, physical rehabilitation hospital just west of the Del. Route 1 onramp near Middletown.
    Once complete, the 34-bed, inpatient hospital will employee 80 to 100 full-time medical professionals who will treat patients recovering from strokes, neurological disorders, spinal cord and brain injuries, as well as amputations.
    Page 2 of 8 - Lassiter said the average patient visit lasts about 14 days at HealthSouth’s 103 inpatient hospitals in 28 states and Puerto Rico.
    The Alabama-based company first proposed building the 34-bed inpatient facility in 2011, but the Delaware Health Resources Board, which is responsible for certifying new health care facilities in the state, rejected the proposal, claiming similar physical rehabilitation services were already available in the area.
    Gov. Jack Markell publicly criticized the board’s decision, prompting seven of its 12 members to resign. After new board members were appointed, the reformed body granted conditional approval to the project.
    Middletown Town Council followed suit by approving the hospital’s construction plans two months later.
    But the proposal quickly ground to a halt when Broadmeadow Investment LLC, which operates the Broadmeadow nursing home off of South Broad Street, filed an appeal of the board’s decision, leading to months of legal wrangling.
    A breaking point finally came in June when Markell signed a bill sponsored by state Rep. Quinn Johnson (D-Middletown) that exempts freestanding rehabilitation hospitals from review by the Delaware Health Resources Board.
    That opened the door for HealthSouth and Broadmeadow to reach an out-of-court settlement this fall, clearing the way for the rehabilitation hospital to begin construction.
    COST Undisclosed
    START DATE Early June
    COMPLETION September
    Main Street Station, a long-dormant commercial project at the corner of Peterson Road and West Main Street, appears to be moving closer to construction, with a possible start date this spring.
    Lang Development Group is currently seeking to revise its previously-approved design for a two-story 30,000-square-foot commercial building to a one-story 18,000-square-foot building with 15 office and small retail spaces.
    David Grayson, a construction manager with Main Street Associates, said the project already has received interest from retail clients interested in the 20-foot-by-60-foot “bays” that will be offered at the shopping center, which will front Peterson Road.
    The project also will include to parking lots and on-street parking along Peterson Road, as well as a concrete island at the roadway’s intersection with West Main Street.
    The property was rezoned from manufacturing/industrial use to downtown commercial and the original land development plan both were approved in 2007.
    Since then, the property has remained undeveloped.
    Middletown Town Council is currently slated to vote on the new layout design April 7.
    COST $13 million
    START DATE Late spring
    Page 3 of 8 - COMPLETION Summer 2015
    MOT Charter School officials are hoping to begin construction of a new, 77,360-square-foot high school on a 33-acre plot off Cedar Lane Road this spring.
    The high school will house two separate academies.
    Students at the Arts Academy would pursue pathways in visual arts, performing arts and digital communications, while students in the Science and Technology Academy will pursue engineering, biomedical and a catch-all science pathway.
    In its first year, the high school is expected to house 188 ninth- and 10th-graders in each academy, for a total of 376 students. The school would then add 11th grade in 2016 and 12th grade in 2017, by which point the student body would reach 750.
    That would more than double the total enrollment at the 10-year-old charter school, which currently has about 675 students at its K-8 program on Levels Road.
    If plans proceed as scheduled, the school should be ready to open for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.
    The state Board of Education approved MOT Charter’s request to add ninth through 12th grades last June.
    School officials initially hoped to break ground on the new school last October. However, the project is still winding its way through the New Castle County building approval process and no date has been set for when a final decision might be made.
    In the meantime, MOT Charter is moving ahead with plans to offer ninth-grade class this fall by adding a six-room modular building to its Levels Road campus.
    Approval of the temporary addition is currently pending before Middletown Town Council.
    COST Undisclosed
    START DATE Underway
    Initial work on Peach Tree Station, a commercial development project at the corner of Wood and West Lake streets, began late in 2013.
    Now that warmer weather has arrived, developer Middletown Dev. Co. LLC has started constructing four adjoining buildings that will surround a 30-space parking lot in a courtyard design on the nearly 2-acre parcel that Shone Lumber previously used as a lumber yard.
    In total, the buildings will provide more than 25,300-square-feet of commercial space, supplemented by a 50-space parking lot across the street.
    Currently, plans calls for the center to include a restaurant, a fitness center and up to eight general office units, although no tenants have been officially announced.
    Final plans for the Peach Tree Station project were approved by Middletown Town Council in 2011.
    Page 4 of 8 - COST $2 million
    START DATE April
    Pembry Holding is slated to begin construction next month of a 13,200-square-foot building at 495 E. Main Street that will allow the Silver Lake Center, a 19-year-old, state-run residential psychiatric treatment facility for teenage boys, to also house teenage girls.
    Once complete, the new $2 million building will provide living space for eight girls between the ages of 13 and 17, as well as an indoor recreation facility.
    The treatment center currently consists of two buildings, including the eight-bedroom, 5,500-square-foot Middletown Manor Residential Treatment Center and the 6,000-square-foot Silver Lake Day Treatment Center, which provides non-residential psychiatric and educational services to another eight boys and girls, some of whom are transitioning back into their communities from the residential center.
    Steven Yeatman, the deputy director of DPBH, said the construction of the new building would allow the division to close the 30-year-old Brenford Residential Treatment Center, which currently houses eight boys and girls in a converted ranch house near Smyrna.
    Middletown Town Council unanimously approved a final development plan for the new residential treatment building in February.
    COST $3.5 million
    START DATE Early April
    COMPLETION Late summer/early fall
    A 7,200-square-foot Texas Roadhouse is expected to break ground next month at the Westown Town Centre commercial complex off of U.S. Route 301 that currently houses Westown Movies, Middletown’s brand new 12-screen multiplex theater.
    Hospitality Development Partners LLC, which owns Texas Roadhouse franchises in Seaford and Maryland, announced last month that it intends to open a Middletown location by early fall.
    The restaurant will be managed by the Kentucky-based Texas Roadhouse chain that currently owns or operates more than 400 restaurants in 46 states, including three other locations in Delaware.
    The new Texas Roadhouse is expected to employ at least 150 people, which hiring likely to begin after construction is complete.
    The average Texas Roadhouse seats about 280 people and typically sees 5,000 customers per week, according to the company’s website.
    Texas Roadhouse is the latest project set for construction at the Westown Town Centre, which is part of a 2,000-acre residential, commercial and industrial development approved in 1990s.
    Today, the various aspects of that development project have added nearly 500 homes to Middletown through the creation of neighborhoods such as St. Anne’s, South Ridge and Spring Arbor, as well as 225 acres of commercial and industrial development that have included Walmart, Kohl’s, Walgreens, Chick-Fil-a and most recently Westown Movies.
    Page 5 of 8 - ---------------------------------------------
    COST Undisclosed
    START DATE April
    COMPLETION Late summer/early fall
    Construction of a new Dollar General is expected to begin on a 1.2-acre property at the northwest corner of Summit Bridge Road and Townsend’s Main Street next month.
    But first, the project will require the demolition of an existing hair salon and a 108-year-old home that’s been used as an apartment building for several years.
    The current project design calls for a 9,100-square-foot building that faces Summit Bridge Road, as well as a parking lot with 36 spaces. A bio-retention pond also would be added between the rear of the building and Townsend Fire Hall next door.
    Property owners Jigneshkumar and Krishnaben Desai purchased the land in late 2012. A few months later they began talks with Capital Development Partners, a South Carolina real estate company that develops property for the Tennessee-based Dollar General Corporation.
    Renters in the apartment building were given month-to-month leases until late January, when they were given 60 days to vacate the premises.
    Sale of the land is expected to be finalized after those 60 days are up March 31.
    Earlier this month, Townsend’s Board of Adjustments approved variances sought by Capital Development Partners that would allow the proposed store to have a slightly larger driveway width, a parking lot closer to the roadway and relief from a required second loading zone.
    COST Undisclosed
    START DATE Unknown
    COMPLETION Unknown
    Developer Joe Terranova of Westside Retail said in November that he expected work to begin early this year on a shopping center with four, 15,000-square-foot buildings on an 8-acre parcel off of South Ridge Avenue, just behind Middletown’s Walgreens.
    At that time, Terranova said he was actively negotiating leases for the first two buildings with potential tenants, including restaurants he claimed “would take Middletown dining to a new level.”
    To date, no work has begun on the project and Terranova could not be reached for an update as of this week.
    Middletown Town Council approved an initial shopping center development plan for the property in 2009 that called for the construction of six, 10,000-square-foot buildings.
    Those plans were amended to the four building configuration last December.
    COST $1 billion
    START DATE Possibly summer
    Page 6 of 8 - COMPLETION 2040
    Work on the first phase of The Town of Whitehall, a mixed-use development long planned along the southern bank of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, reportedly could begin as early as this summer.
    Current plans for that initial phase, a neighborhood named Mapleton, call for nearly 500 homes, as well as 64,000 square feet of civic, commercial and retail space, on 145 acres.
    Meanwhile, the entire Town of Whitehall project is proposed to encompass the construction of seven neighborhoods that include a total of 3,850 homes on 1,214 acres off of Lorewood Grove and Ratledge roads.
    In the meantime, a separate group headed by Innovative Schools of Wilmington is seeking approval from the Delaware Board of Education to open Mapleton Charter School in Whitehall by 2016.
    If approved, Mapleton would open with 300 students in kindergarten through second grade before doubling in size by expanding to fifth grade by 2019.
    While the current proposal for the Whitehall development is relatively new, potential uses for the land, currently owned by the Wilmington-based Welfare Foundation, have been bandied about since at least the 1980s.
    In the 1990s, a large-scale commercial development project proposed on the land received considerable public scrutiny and was eventually abandoned.
    A new development group, called Whitehall Ventures, submitted the latest build-out plans to the county in 2011 and has undertaken a marketing and community outreach campaign through Facebook, Twitter and its website, whitehallde.com.
    For now, Whitehall is continuing to works its way through the New Castle County building approval process.
    In the meantime, the state board of education is expected to vote on the Mapleton Charter School application next month.
    COST $4.2 million
    START DATE Spring
    The Delaware Department of Transportation is slated to soon begin repaving a 6.5-mile stretch of Del. Route 71 from U.S. Route 13, south of Townsend, to Cedar Lane Road in Middletown.
    The milling and repaving work will be conducted from 7:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. on weeknights.
    As of December, the project was slated to begin on the northbound lane of the roadway, starting at the southern end of Route 71 and continuing to Cedar Lane Road before turning around and completing the southbound lane.
    The project also is slated to include new traffic signals, pedestrian signals and crosswalks at Broad Street’s intersections with Main Street, Greenlawn Boulevard and Lake Street, as well as handicap-accessible ramps at all intersections.
    Replacement of concrete curbing along Middletown’s Broad Street, from West Park Place to Cedar Lane Road, was planned to begin last winter, but was continuously delayed by near-weekly snowstorms.
    Page 7 of 8 - No start date for that preliminary work had been set as of this week, and the repaving portion of the project cannot begin until the weather become warm enough for asphalt plants to reopen, according to DelDOT officials.
    COST $589,000
    START DATE Underway
    A two-month streetscape project aimed at improving and beautifying Townsend’s Main Street finally got off the ground this month, after seven years in the planning stages.
    The project will add new sidewalks, curbing, street lights, benches, trash receptacles, handicap ramps and sewer grates to either side of the road between Chestnut Street and South Street.
    A pair of decorative brick crosswalks also will be installed at the Main Street intersections of Commerce and South streets.
    Townsend has been planning a streetscape project along Main Street ever since the University of Delaware conducted a survey of the town’s walkability in 2007.
    In 2008, the town’s contracted engineering firm submitted an application to the Delaware Department of Transportation in the hopes of winning $3 million in funding to complete a three-phase project from Helen Drive to Summit Bridge Road that would have included removing the utility poles that run the length of Main Street and burying those lines underground.
    DelDOT, which maintains the roadway, subsequently approved a smaller allocation, requiring the town to seek additional funding from its state legislators.
    After the project spent several years in limbo, Townsend’s town council was able to secure $95,000 in matching funds through grants from state Rep. Quinn Johnson (D-Middletown) and state Sen. Bruce Ennis (D-Smyrna) in 2013.
    COST $12 million
    START DATE 2011
    As of this week, the Army Corps of Engineers had not announced an official date for when work will resume on Summit Bridge.
    However, a spokesman said work – and temporarily lane closures – could resume in the next month.
    At least another two months of painting and other work will be needed before the project is complete, he said.
    The final phase of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ rehabilitation project on Summit Bridge, which first began in 2006, was initially slated to include reinforcements to the bridge’s beams and trusses, sandblasting the structure’s gray, lead-based paint and replacing it with a new coat of deep-water blue.
    However, the sandblasting uncovered the need for additional work on the 53-year-old span, including major repairs to steel beams and concrete barriers, as well as the replacement of several expansion joints.
    Page 8 of 8 - Despite multiple, partial and full lane closures over the last year, the project missed its projected completion date last fall.
    Work on the bridge subsequently ground to a halt and the project was official stopped for the winter.
    The U.S. Army Corps now says it hopes to complete the project by early summer.
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