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  #81  
Old Posted Aug 31, 2005, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago103
Just to expand on what I said earlier, this level of condo development for a city of less than 100,000 is quite impressive. Most downtowns of american cities this size are neglected completly and dont have much hope of being revitalized on the residential level. I have looked at several city photo threads of Wilmington and I must say it is one of the best smaller cities I have seen in terms of urbanity and a big city feel.
Wilmington is a very atypical area. It was built with the same materials as Baltimore and Philadelphia, by the same architects, in the same infrastructure (rowhomes, squares, parkways).
Although tiny, it has always held it's own in terms of it's rock solid economy and long history.

Even though the city is in the "small city" category (under 100k), it's independent metro area is considered a "large metropolitan area" by the census. This isn't counting Philadelphia. The tiny city's dense old suburbs give way to typical suburbs, mcmansions, including exurbs over 20 miles away from the city center.

Although people have never heard of the city itself, Greater Wilmington is twice the size of "larger cities" metros like Anchorage, AK, Tallahassee, FL, and equally as large, or bigger than Toledo, Ohio or Little Rock, Arkansas. They get large black dots on maps, while Wilmington won't even appear as a tiny blip.

Because of this scenario, it is a very "incognito" city 20 miles away from the 5th largest city in the country that is so immersed in Philly culture and commuting pattern, it has a dual-identity. A Philly metro identity, and the identity of the largest city/hub in its state. It's very ambiguous for people who live in the area how to classify the area. Almost to the point of an identity dilemma.

But anyway.. it's a cool small town/small city/large metro/satellite city/suburb of Philadelphia (Call it whatever. Each one is arguable).
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Last edited by Joey D; Aug 31, 2005 at 11:43 PM.
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  #82  
Old Posted Sep 1, 2005, 2:54 PM
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^^In addition to what Joe wrote, nearly all of the residential growth in the city is due to one company: Buccini/Pollin. They have nearly single handedly created a highend residential market in downtown Wilmington. They had vision and audacity when the other local and established builders and developers had only chips on their shoulders.

Wilmington is benefiting from a more diverse economy than most other similarly sized cities, who normally have county and city government offices, a few law firms and a few local and national bank operations/offices. Wilmington has a range of large corporate operations from chemical to finance to local insurance carriers, as well as a large legal community built around the Chancery Court. These attract young and relatively affluent talent, which as everyone knows, is the key to a healthy and mixed urban environment.

It's too bad Wilmington wasn't able to annex as much land as other cities around the country, and enable them to better intergrate the surrounding towns into city neighborhoods.

Thanks for your thoughts Chicago103.
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  #83  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2005, 2:00 PM
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An article about the expansion of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware in Wilmington. Also there's some general information about the CBD office market. The subtitle is a bit of an exaggeration; its only a 6 story addition on top of a garage.

Blues Near Decision on Move

Delaware Avenue Choice Could Change Look of Whole City

BY MAUREEN MILFORD / The News Journal
09/25/2005

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, the state's largest health insurance company, is expected to reach a decision in a few weeks that could paint Wilmington red.

The Blues have been negotiating since the summer for a new headquarters in the city. One possible location is a new structure at 800 Delaware Ave. near I-95, an area on the western end of the central business district that has been experiencing a revival in the past year.

Richard V. Pryor, the city's economic development director, said negotiations on the deal for the Delaware Avenue site are winding up.

"I know it's not done yet, but I'm optimistic," Pryor said.

Timothy J. Constantine, president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, now at 14th and Orange streets, said in a statement the insurance company expects to reach a final decision in mid-October.

"Until that occurs, there is no decision and our corporate policy prohibits any response to speculation," Constantine said.

Should the Delaware Avenue location win over the Blues, it would mean 650 workers moving to the area as soon as the headquarters is completed, Pryor said. Four hundred of those employees would be new to the city, he said. The city is working on an incentive package.

Besides the boost in population, a move by the Blues would mean two high-rise office structures under construction within a few blocks of each other at that part of town. Since the boulevard serves as the gateway to the city from the west, a change in the skyline there will provide a thriving vista to visitors, experts said.

"It says 'hello' to Wilmington the way you want it to," said Leigh Johnstone, senior vice president with Grubb & Ellis real estate services company in Wilmington. "It's a vibrant entrance to downtown."

The other new building under construction -- the first multitenant building to be constructed in the city in decades -- is at 500 Delaware Ave., between Jefferson and Washington streets. Buccini/Pollin Group Inc. is constructing a $90 million glass tower that will be called WSFS Bank Center. WSFS will be a major tenant, along with the law firm of Morris, James, Hitchens & Williams when the building is completed in the fall of 2006.

In addition to this development, significant money has been sunk into existing structures. ING Direct, the country's fourth-largest savings bank, spent about $15 million in 2004 to renovate the former Chase Manhattan Building at 802 Delaware Ave. The renovation included the development of one of the bank's Internet cafes on the ground floor facing the avenue. Moving toward Rodney Square, Brandywine Realty Trust is renovating 300 Delaware Ave., Johnstone said.

"The way I see it is ING set the tone," said Christopher Buccini, a partner in Buccini/Pollin. "Everyone used to say the ING site was a suburban location with city wage tax. But when ING came in and spent about $100 a square foot to turn it into a class A building, it became the book-end."

Ernest F. Delle Donne, president of Delle Donne & Associates, the real estate development firm that owns the potential Blue Cross Blue Shield site, said the ING building is an indication of the kind of tower that should be on Delaware Avenue.

"I love having ING and WSFS as neighbors," Delle Donne said.

Though Delle Donne would not comment on the Blue Cross Blue Shield deal, real estate agents and city officials said the building would be constructed on top of a garage that was built in 1995 with the Wilmington Parking Authority. The construction is an addition to the existing 10-story structure at 800 Delaware Ave. that has been owned by Delle Donne since the early 1980s.

And Delle Donne has said he plans to spend $35 million to build a 170,000-square-foot addition to his existing building. The addition would be glass and polished granite, he said.

The boost in development in Wilmington's uptown alleviates fears that the Christina River waterfront would cannibalize the office market near Rodney Square. This was particularly true after the Riverfront began to see more office development, including the construction of the headquarters for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Still, city officials and real estate agents said the purchase of MBNA Corp., the state's largest private employer, by Bank of America remains a wild card for the downtown office market. The $35 billion sale is expected to be completed later this year or early next year.

MBNA is the largest corporate owner of real estate in the city, with 1.3 million square feet of space or roughly 14 percent of the office space in the central business district, experts estimate. Altogether, MBNA occupies 4.6 million square feet of space from Greenville to Dover.

Its sale to Bank of America is projected to result in the loss of 6,000 jobs nationwide from the combined companies. The companies haven't said how many cuts will occur in Delaware, but some analysts have predicted there could be 3,000 or more. The loss of jobs could result in excess real estate for the new Bank of America Card Services.

Many are wondering if a big divestiture of MBNA real estate could slow the economic momentum that's been building in the city for the past three years. Gerard H. Sweeney, chief executive of Brandywine Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., that owns several office towers in Wilmington, said the MBNA takeover creates a level of uncertainty that will affect its thinking regarding the construction of an office building in the Christina Gateway section of the city.

"We're all waiting for this elephant in the room: Bank of America's purchase of MBNA," Pryor said.

Johnstone of Grubb & Ellis predicted that it will likely take Bank of America some time to figure out its real estate needs. If it should decide it has excess space, he expects the company will put one stand-alone building on the market at a time.

"It doesn't do them any good to dump a lot of space on the market," Johnstone said.

------------------------

The article is wrong about the last multi-tenant building being built 10 years ago. All of MBNA's buildings are owner occupied. The last multi-tenant to go up was Three Christina Centre in 1989!

Here's the rending of the new BCBS of Delaware building (the garage is existant):



It's really too bad Delle Donne won't reface the garage, but I suppose since its owned by the Wilmington Parking Authority they (WPA) would have to do it.

The last blurb in bold refers to this project in development:

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  #84  
Old Posted Oct 1, 2005, 2:55 PM
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Renaissance Centre Project Halted
Concern About Historic Structures, Ability to Attract Tenants Cited
BY MAUREEN MILFORD / The News Journal
09/30/2005

WILMINGTON -- Work on the $50 million Renaissance Centre has halted, raising questions about the future of the on-again, off-again project some see as key to downtown Wilmington's redevelopment.

The developer of the office, residential and parking project in the 400 block of Market Street is in discussions with the city about "various challenges" concerning the project, including the preservation of historic structures on the site, said Richard V. Pryor, the city's director of economic development. Also being discussed are the "office market realities," Pryor said, including the difficulty of attracting tenants.

The office building was announced as a speculative project -- or one being constructed without having a major tenant signed up. With the impending $35 billion sale of MBNA Corp. to Bank of America later this year and the possibility of job relocation or reduction, there has been concern that the credit card company could dump excess office space on the market. MBNA is the largest corporate owner of real estate in the city, with 1.3 million square feet of space or roughly 14 percent of the office space in the central business district, experts estimate.

"The last thing the city wants is to build a 10-story office building that's empty," Pryor said.

John Rago, communications director to Mayor James M. Baker, said he expects the project to go forward despite "the challenging market conditions."

"At this moment, they're not out of compliance and there have been no discussions about scaling back," Rago said.

Pryor said the city could end up changing the agreement that Renaissance Centre LLC of Wilmington, whose principal is Brock J. Vinton, struck with the city last year for the development of the block bounded by Fourth, Market, Fifth and King streets. The project has been considered a key to redevelopment of the downtown because it would help link the lower North Market Street area with Rodney Square to the north.

Vinton would not comment Thursday.

If the agreement is amended, it will be the latest complication in a development that has been in the works for more than five years. After initial plans in 2000 to build a hotel and office building on the site, the Renaissance Centre group reached a development agreement with the city in 2001 that called for a 225,000-square-foot office building and a 650-car parking garage.

But work was never started. Last fall, it appeared the entire deal was going to fall through after Renaissance Centre failed to purchase the land from the city and Wilmington UDAG Corp. by the deadline imposed in the development agreement. At that point, the agreement already had been amended.

The project was salvaged in November within hours of the deal being canceled after Renaissance Centre LLC paid $2 million of the $2.5 million purchase price. However, plans for the 1.4-acre city block were scaled back from the original to a 325-car parking garage and a minimum 140,000-square-foot office building on the vacant King Street portion of the block. Plans called for existing historic buildings on Market, King and Fourth streets to be renovated for residential and retail use.

The agreement stipulated that the entire project, including the historic restorations, must be completed by spring 2007.

The historic properties already have caused problems.

Work began in the spring on the demolition of four buildings at Fourth and King streets. In the process of cleaning up debris, the contractor hired by Renaissance Centre LLC accidentally hit the corner of a historic building targeted for preservation, according to R. Robert Ruggio, senior vice president of Commonwealth Group, a Vinton company.

At that point, work stopped.

Now, Ruggio said, the plan is to go back to the Wilmington Design Review and Preservation Commission in early November with a plan to dismantle the facades and rebuild them in their original form.

---------------------

Looks like we'll find out in late November whats going to happen to this project. They had originally planned for a fall 2006 opening, but since work has been done on the site since early June I'd say that time line is out of the question. With that in mind, it's doubtful they have any tenants signed at all. Hopefully they'll go forward, if not they'll have to give that parcel back to the city per the agreement.

This is the rendering:

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Last edited by mglan80; Oct 1, 2005 at 3:04 PM.
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  #85  
Old Posted Oct 1, 2005, 6:13 PM
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Nie thread on good ole Wilmington...although my favorite tower in the area is still the oddly located Rollins Building on Rte 202.
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  #86  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2005, 4:40 PM
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Oh how I wish Camden NJ had Wilmington's vision and future. Wilmington on the opposite side of the river from Philadelphia would have put a whole new perspective on the region. Keep up the great work Wilmington.
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  #87  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2005, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palms
Oh how I wish Camden NJ had Wilmington's vision and future. Wilmington on the opposite side of the river from Philadelphia would have put a whole new perspective on the region. Keep up the great work Wilmington.
Wilmington is lucky to have many big corporations that are active in the community. Everyone is wondering if BOA will keep up the good works of MBNA. Wilmington looks better then I have ever seen it!
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  #88  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2005, 2:25 AM
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^That's doubtful. I don't know who to blame, but the scholarships that MBNA is famous for around here were cut. Not just new applicants, but everyone. That's shitty, not matter how you cut it. But there are others. DuPont still does alot, and Buccini/Pollin Group (the developers in town) have picked up some of the slack.

I thought I'd throw in some photos I took the other morning since I was updating the WSFS Bank Center thread. If that's against the rules, let me know mod-niks.









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  #89  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2005, 3:02 AM
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^Pics look good! I know the Rollins Building isn't deep in the city...but it'd would be nice to see some cool pics of that tower. I still have no clue as to why it was built there in the first place. It's as tall as anything in downtown Wilmington.
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  #90  
Old Posted Oct 7, 2005, 2:46 PM
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^I was kind of surprised it was allowed to be built out there in Fairfax in the first place, and I'm pretty certain that no new highrises can be built out there now. I don't know why Rollins Co. built it out there. I guess that was what was "in" in '72.

I've held this vision of Fairfax becoming a sort of "uptown" office area, with elevated rail running up Concord Pike. Fun to think about, but never in a million years.

I'll see what I can do about the photos.
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  #91  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2005, 4:37 PM
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Where is Blue Cross currently?
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  #92  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2005, 1:19 AM
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^In Hercules Plaza.

Welcome to the forum. Delaware native?
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  #93  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2005, 2:28 PM
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Yes, born in wilmington.

I thought I remembered the Blue having a standalone building that faced the brandywine. 14th street I think. adjacent to the Hercules building.

Being a Kitchen Guy, I am always on the lookout for the next hi-end condo conversion or new building project.
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  #94  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2005, 11:00 PM
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^You're right. I forgot about that building back there next to Hercules.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitchen Guy
Being a Kitchen Guy, I am always on the lookout for the next hi-end condo conversion or new building project.
Well, this thread covers them all. Although there is one more that should be announced soon: Justison Landing. It's another BPG project that'll be between the new AAA building and Kahunaville. No highrises on that one, only townhouses.
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  #95  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2005, 6:16 PM
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With a hotel somwhere in the mix.

kind of amazing to see a new neighborhood forming around the river.

I expect to see activity to the east and west of Christina Landing also.
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  #96  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2005, 8:20 PM
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ATLANTIC CITY | Mini Boom in NJ

Theres a lot of activity up in the marina district and the boardwalk.

Any renderings out there for the proposed 40 story tower at the Borgata? I'm itching to see a rendering of it. Anyone think it will complement the original sleek gold Borgata tower? I think the original borgata tower is one of the finest looking casino towers out there, Las Vegas included.

Any renderings for the new 40 story Harrah's expansion or the Trump Taj Mahal tower 2? I wonder if Taj 2 will just be a duplicate of the original Trump Taj Mahal tower.

I've also heard word that Showboat may be considering a new tower expansion on the north portion of its property.

The Sands may also be considering a new tower from what I've seen in the papers.

Any renderings of any of these? Post em if you got em!
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  #97  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2005, 9:10 PM
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I don't have any info on the projects that may be going up soon but I was at the showboat a few months ago and they just got done redoing the back part of the building into a "House of Blues" theme. A club, and part of the casino is themed like it.

Here is the view from the boardwalk of the new look...



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  #98  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2005, 9:16 PM
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Are there any non-casino related towers going up?
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  #99  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2005, 9:31 PM
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And for the second borgata tower this is what I found...

Quote:
Over $550 million will be spent on a new 45-tower hotel that will add 500 rooms, 100 suites and 200 luxury condos. An additional 500,000 square feet of casino space, restaurants, nightclubs and stores are also being built. Construction is set to be completed by late 2007.
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  #100  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2005, 9:55 PM
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Found this info about the Borgata Expansion on Boyd Gamings website:

Borgata Expansions Underway
― $200 Million Public Space Expansion
– Additional 500 Slots, 40 Tables, 85 Table Poker Room,
3 New Signature Restaurants, 2 Nightclubs
– Nationally Acclaimed Restaurateurs Bobby Flay, Michael
Mina and Wolfgang Puck Join Award Winning Dining
Roster
– Completion Expected Second Quarter 2006
― $325 Million Rooms Expansion
– New Hotel Tower with 800 Rooms and Suites
– Separate Porte Cochere and Front Desk
– Spa in the Sky with 3 Additional Pools
– Completion Expected Fourth Quarter 2007
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