An update on the retail stores, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants planned for Middletown.
Another wave of retailers is preparing to hold grand openings at the Westown Town Center on U.S. 301 in Middletown early next year, while more commercial projects are planned nearby including restaurants, hotels and supermarkets.
According to Jim Tancredi of DSM Commercial, the real estate broker for the properties at Westown, the opening of the Marshalls last month was only the first of many other retail stores that will be opening their doors to shoppers in Southern New Castle County soon.
Mild temperatures have allowed for speedier construction of many of the buildings that will house the new businesses and if the weather continues to cooperate, Tancredi said that we could be seeing stores begin to open by the first quarter of 2016.
Michaels and Petco are among the first round of retailers that will be open early next year. According to Tancredi, those stores have already taken over their respective commercial spaces – adjacent to the Marshalls.
Also in that same building, Dress Barn, Famous Footwear and Olympia Sports are expected to open by February or March.
Across the street from the main building, construction for an 8,000-square-foot retail space is still under construction. Those commercial pads will house Chipotle, AT&T Mobile, Hair Cuttery and Panda Express.
“We expect to deliver the space by March,” Tancredi said. “After that, it takes about 60 days to prepare the stores for opening, so we could have those open by May or June.”
By the end of 2016, other businesses and some restaurants may be ready for grand openings, too. They’ll be located just north of the Kohl’s, behind the Walgreens and will include Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, Anytime Fitness, Kiku Japanese Steakhouse, Images Hair Salon, a nail salon and day spa, and Caesar’s – a new Italian restaurant and martini bar.
“All those businesses are under agreement and are projected by the end of next year with the weather being as warm as is it,” Tancredi explained.
One business that residents won’t have to wait much longer for will be the new Wendy’s restaurant. Construction of the fast food restaurant was delayed after one of the franchise partners passed away, but it’s now progressing and could be ready by late winter, Tancredi said.
Near Wendy’s, a Valvoline Instant Oil Change opened in the shopping center two months ago.
In the months to come, at least two new supermarket chains will open stores on U.S. Route 301 in Middletown and both are European.
A plan for ALDI to open a 17,800 square foot store at the corner of Bunker Hill Road and U.S. 301 has already been approved by the town. Construction is expected to start in the spring.
On Monday, a conceptual plan for a Lidl supermarket was presented to town council for a 36,170 square foot store at the MOT Auto Park. The international chain wants to have all its new stores in the U.S. (including the one in Middletown) open by 2018.
Both ALDI and Lidl have their roots in Germany and they are considered discount supermarkets that offer national brands as well as their own private label products.
But for Middletown residents like Wendy Garland, the supermarket that she would really like to see come to the area is a Trader Joe’s.
“I think we’re a growing area and need a grocery store with products that are natural or organic,” Garland said. “I know moms that want healthy affordable foods and would like to shop at Trader Joe’s.”
Already, some of the Middletown moms that Garland mentioned travel to Pike Creek in Wilmington weekly and bi-weekly to the Trader Joe’s there – the only in Delaware. Having a store in Middletown would be so much more convenient, she said.
But larger, national chains like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Wegmans are looking for different demographics, Tancredi said.
“Oh, we’ve actively pursued them, along with Panera Bread, but for them the demographics in Middletown aren’t there yet,” Tancredi said. “The market in Middletown is not strong or mature enough right now.”
Still, Tancredi said that his company will continue to get the attention of those supermarkets and that he doesn’t doubt that at least one of them may see the potential in Middletown and agree to open a store in the area sometime in the future.
At least three restaurants will be opening up at the Westown Town Center. As previously mentioned in this article, two of them will be the Greene Turtle and Caesar’s, while a third which will be adjacent to the new ALDI. Details of that establishment have not been disclosed yet.
Across the street from Westown, a new Grotto Pizza is being built at the MOT Auto Park. And, in downtown Middletown, Metro Pub & Grill will officially open its doors on Wednesday, Dec. 16. The gastropub held a ribbon cutting on Tuesday.
RM Hospitality Group, which owns and manages Metro Pub, also expects to open “Rick’s” – a new high end restaurant that will occupy the old Delaware Trust building on the northwest corner of Broad and Main streets. The restaurant is expected to open early next year.
RM Hospitality also has plans to open a third restaurant in downtown Middletown, across from the Valero Gas station on West Main Street in the near future.
There are at least two hotels that are expected to start construction in Middletown in the months to come, including a Holiday Inn Express at the MOT Auto Park, and a Comfort Inn & Suites south of Westown Movies which will be managed by Axia Management.
According to Tancredi, his company is working diligently on signing more businesses for the area, including a high-end miniature golf course that will be located off U.S. Route 301.
“That is going to be the real deal miniature golf,” Tancredi said. “People are going to be very excited about it.”
There are other national retailers and restaurants that DSM is pursuing, but Tancredi could not disclose any names yet.
“There are more coming looking ahead at 2017. We’ll be able to give more details later next year,” Tancredi said.
Though she may not be getting a Trader Joe’s just yet, Garland said that she is excited about the new businesses that are coming to the area.
“Personally, they’re going to add to the community. It’s going to bring jobs to the area and the convenience is going to be good,” she said. “Middletown is a growing in terms of housing and schools so it makes sense to have this commercial growth, too.”
In addition, Garland, who is very active with the Appoquinimink School District, said that many of the businesses coming to the area tend to give back to the community and sponsor teams.
“A lot of them give back. They come to the community and become part of it. I think that’s important to remember,” Garland said.