Weis Markets will expand into New Castle County as an anchor store for the 280,000-square-foot Bayberry Town Center in north Middletown.
The grocery store, which will give those living in the area an option other than driving south into Middletown or north to U.S. 40 for food, is expected to begin construction next year and open in 2025, said Blenheim Homes vice president Simi Sonecha.
The 64,00-square-foot store will be joined by a Weis gas station, which it refers to as a fuel facility.
The town center will include office, retail and townhome space, and Sonecha said Blenheim hopes to see small and large casual dining restaurants, health services such as physical therapists, dentes and urgent care, hair and nail salons as well as retail stores offering various wares.
Blenheim has not announced how much the center will cost to build in the Village of Bayberry.
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The COVID-19 pandemic really spurred sales and growth in the north Middletown area, which Sonecha said has become its own trade area.
“Retail growth has not folloed a similar trajectory,” she said. “So we felt that there was a great need for a grocery store to service this area. We’ve heard that from a lot of residents, so we think that Weis (pronounced WICE) will be perfectly positioned to serve this community.”‘
Weis, which operates 97 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Virginia now has stores in Millsboro, Lewes and Millville.
The Village of Bayberry sits between Middletown’s main business area and the C&D Canal, along Boyds Corner Road (Route 896) between Jamison Corner Road and Routes 1 and 13.
The development includes almost 2,700 homes (1,700 sold) with 600 acres of open space that offers miles of walking paths, parks, playgrounds, picnic pavilions, lakes and luxury clubhouses.
The new town center will be the largest grocery-anchored center in Middletown, Blenheim said in a press release.
The 64,000-square-foot Weis store will join 31,000 square feet of professional office space, two green spaces for community programming and 145 townhomes on the property.
It’s impossible to say how many other stores will be included, because it will depend on the size of the stores, Sonecha said.
Another 184,655 square feet is set aside for retail, including several pad sites, she said. It’s possible those pad sites could be split between two retailers, she said.
“We’ll know more once we get further into our leasing efforts,” which has seen a surge of interest this week, she said. “Right now, it’d be hard to get an estimate.”
Blenheim wants its town center to help preserve small-town charm for Bayberry while delivering modern-day conveniences, the press release said.
The developers wanted Weis, Sonecha said.
“Their brand has a strong reputation for quality and is passionate about its products and services, which really aligns with our values at Blenheim,” she said. “The fact that they wanted to build a beautiful flagship store was important to us, because we have a clear vision of the architectural beauty that we want to see and they’re designed really seamlessly into that vision. This Weis flagship store is actually going to be one of the nicest grocers in the state.”
Dennis Curtin, director of public relations for Weis Markets, hailed the announcement.
“Weis Markets is eager to serve The Village of Bayberry and the surrounding communities in the years ahead,” he said in the press release.
In addition to the homes in Bayberry and already existing in nearby developments, another 10,000 new sites have been approved for future development within a four to eight minute drive, Sonecha said.
“Just having a grocery store that you can access via just driving internal streets is going to be amazing,” she said.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.
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