Details of the planned development of Riverfront East in Wilmington were spelled out Wednesday to a state committee that oversees capital projects.
Megan McGlinchey, executive director of the Riverfront Development Corp., told the Bond Committee during a budget hearing that the effort to repeat the success of Riverfront West on the opposite side of the Christina River now is focusing on infrastructure and property acquisition.
She said she hoped it would end up being as successful as the 25-year development of the West side of the river, which has generated $616 million in revenue on $495 million in state investments since 1996.
McGlinchey noted that a University of Delaware study found that in the past five years, the state invested $105 million there and received $169 million in revenue. In the past year, she said, the state had received $33 million from that area and the city $8.5 million.
“As we enter our 27th year of operation, the RTC has never felt better about the progress that we’ve made along the riverfront and the results that we’ve achieved for the state,” McGlinchey said.
The west project turned a polluted industrial playground into a place for people to live and play.
Gov. John Carney’s proposed fiscal year 2024 budget recommends $6.5 million for the Riverfront Development Corp. That does not include money that will be spent on roads by the Delaware Department of Transportation.\
Riverfront East plans
The RDC announced in 2021, that it would spend $100 million for an 86-acre expansion of the riverfront project on the east side. It is expected to have 1.9 million square feet of office space, more than 4,000 residential units, 350,000 square feet of retail space, 9,000 parking spaces and 650 on-street parking spaces.
McGlinchey said the RDC was happy to have the move of a Salvation Army warehouse and 78 bed rehabilitation building to South Walnut Street completed in the last year.
The corporation has divided the east project into three sections. It’s buying property in all three, but has focused most work on area 1, which hugs the curve of the river.
A $30 million project set to start this year will put in roads, signs, sidewalks and utilities. Moving utilities will be a massive job.
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One of the key projects there will be creating a central green for that side. The two-acre park will sit in the middle of development, and the RDC hopes to get started with design this year, which cannot be paid for by DelDOT.
About a dozen investors are interested in helping develop the area, she said.
McGlinchey also said Wednesday:
- The RDC’s inaugural holiday light display brought in 109,000 visitors, a 21% increase from the previous year, with 20% of the visitors from out of town.
- Two apartment complexes now under development, will add to the fortunes of the area. They include the Luxor, which will be a 193-unit building north of the ShopRite on South Market Street, expected to be finished in early 2024. The Riverhouse apartment, situated on the waterfront, is a 300-unit complex expected to open by fall of this year. Both are being built by out-of-state developers.
- A new mixed use development on Beech Street at the intersection of Justison is a partnership of the Big Fish Restaurant Group and the Onyx group. They developed the Hyatt Place Hotel and Riverfront Event Center in 2019. The development will include two restaurants on the ground level and 216 apartments above ground. It will break ground soon, with proposed completion in late 2024.
- The RDE plans to paint and light the small tunnels created by the13 Amtrak bridges on the riverfront. It will use the same federal funding that it did for the riverwalk light show. Progress has been slow because of insurance issues with Amtrak, but work should begin in the next few months.
- About $1 million is being spent to spruce up Frawley Stadium, which the RDC took over management of last year. Most of that will be to bring player areas up to current major baseball standards, but some will be visible to visitors. Bond money has supported both those projects, McClinchey said. A new lease has been negotiated with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, which will keep baseball in Wilmington for many years to come, she said. This is the 30th year of the opening of Frawley Stadium, and the RDC plans a celebration later this year.
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