Changes needed in county land use process to ensure success of Claymont, Boxwood sites

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A Nucor Building Systems building at Harvey Hanna's Twin Spans Business Park, New Castle.

Good morning, The need for a fast-track development strategy in northern Delaware became more urgent with news of the pending purchase of the former GM/Fisker plant site by Newport-based commercial real estate developer Harvey, Hanna.

As the company noted in a release this week, the company has experience in redeveloping brownfield sites, one example being the Twin Spans site in the New Castle area that now employs more than a thousand people.

Also in the mix is the Claymont area with the redevelopment of Claymont Steel and perhaps the adjacent sites. An Ohio firm with experience with such projects has purchased the mill site.

With a location convenient to Interstate 95 and rail service, Boxwood and Claymont have even greater potential than Twin Spans.

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However, New Castle County will need to streamline up its process to ensure we do not see the lengthy delays that come with even the most routine projects. Worse yet, the final version of the project varies little from the original plan.

More than one developer has stated that New Castle County is the most difficult environment on the East Coast.

The state will also have to make certain its economic development apparatus is on track.

Only now, are we beginning to see the outlines of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and the realignment of other former Delaware Economic Development Office functions into the Department of State.

A lack of transparency continues to surround the effort, an issue that plays into the hands of a “not in my backyard crowd.” that still has a lot of clout.

On the plus side, the naming of John Riley as acting CEO of the public-private partnership is an encouraging development.

Finally, one message regarding these key developments needs to be made clear to the public. Chances of one of two projects filling Boxwood or Claymont are remote. The build-out will take several years.

In the end, we will all benefit from a diverse base of companies that could find homes in both Claymont and Boxwood.

Your thoughts, tips and ideas are always appreciated. If this newsletter was passed along, click here to subscribe at no charge. – Doug Rainey, Publisher.

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