The annual Bisnow North Delaware State of the Market event was a largely upbeat affair as panelists focused on hotspots such as the Wilmington’s downtown and Riverfront and the University of Delaware’s STAR campus in Newark.
University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis was the keynote speaker for the event and discussed the STAR Campus.
“We’re building a town before your very eyes,” Assanis said.
He went on to cite the construction boom at the former Chrysler Assembly Plant site that includes the Chemours research center, a new office tower and a biopharma center that will focus on efficient development and manufacturing of drugs.
Assanis said the STAR Campus is not for everyone in the commercial real estate universe. The right fit for the STAR Campus is an organization that can benefit from an association with UD and vice versa
The UD president said that activity is not limited to the STAR Campus and includes a half a billion dollars worth of deferred maintenance of older buildings and a proposed $130 million social sciences and public policy building.
A panel discussion that followed offered a largely optimistic outlook for the northern Delaware commercial real estate market.
- Robert Buccini, co-founder and principal of the Buccini/Pollin Group, Wilmington.
- Kostas Kalogeropoulos, CEO of TKo Hospitality, a Delaware-based hotel developer, and management company.
- Megan McGlinchey, executive director of the Riverfront Development Corporation of Delaware, Wilmington
- Guntram Weissenberger, owner, and president of the Westover Companies, King of Prussia
- Blaise Fletcher, executive vice president of JLL, Wilmington
- Moderator, Joy Barrist, partner, Potter Anderson & Corroon, Wilmington.
Buccini said apartment development is continuing downtown and on the riverfront, with occupancy rates continuing to be high.
Fletcher of JLL said he expects to see more outside investment in commercial real estate in northern Delaware, a change from the past pattern when local developers led the charge.
He also said the overall market is stronger than it has been in years, despite
Weissenberger said Westover, which owns a number of apartment complexes in Delaware, says themarket remains attractive for landlords, due to a predictable tax structure and other factors.
Kalogeropoulos said the lodging industry is still seeing the construction of hotels outpacing demand, adding that a stronger economy will bring employers and more business travelers.
McGlinchey said the Chase Center on the Riverfront’s meeting and conference business will benefit from two hotels that are coming to the area. The center loses some business, due to a limited number of nearby hotel rooms.
McGlinchey said development on the Market Street side of the Riverfront will be aided by the Christiana River bridge now under construction. The original Riverfront area is beginning to near full occupancy.
In a sign of the growth of the Riverfront, one of the questions that followed the panel discussion involved congestion after events and a lack of parking during peak periods. at the Riverfront.
The Riverfront director said the new bridge will ease the traffic situation, and added that additional spaces are being added. A parking ramp is likely in the future near the popular Penn Cinema complex.