$700 million Elkton development not getting a warm  reception


Good afternoon,

One would think that plans for a planned $700 million mixed-use project in Elkton, MD known as Southfieldswould have broad-based support

A blend of retail, homes, apartments and logistics complexes are envisioned for the large tract that includes some nice waterfront real estate.

Heavy hitters that include national developer Trammel Crow are working on the project at a site that has long sat idle under the ownership of a local homebuilder.

Southfields would provide a big economic boost for the town on the Delaware line that has struggled with a host of challenges over the years. The list including a large homeless population, high poverty rate, an opioid epidemic, and a long-running flight of retailers struggling with a location next to sales-tax-free Delaware.

But based on some of the reactions to the ambitious project, it appears developers have a lot of work to do.

Objections center on the usual topics, traffic, overcrowded schools etc. It seems like a replay of what we hear in New Castle County.

Similar objections have been voiced over plans to transform the former AstraZeneca campus in north Wilmington and the one-time DuPont Barley Mill office complex near Wilmington. If all goes well, Barley Mill will get a Wegmans supermarket that will transform the area.

While Southfields faces numerous hurdles that include environmental concerns around the river, sluggish economies and tepid population growthin parts of Cecil and New Castle County, the development should not be counted out.

Maryland has shown an ability to develop large-scale mixed-use projects that gain sizablestate and local investments in infrastructure.

The northeastern part of the state has been neglected over the years, but growth in logistics-warehouse complexes on the western edge of Cecil County has brought more vibrant economy and increased attention from state government and private developers.

Southfields, if it can draw logistics companies, would move precious blue-collar jobs closer to communities that need them.

The task for neighboring areas of Delaware is to make sure that an adequate inventory of land exists for companies that create blue-collar jobs and more importantly a fast track process for properly zoned tracts.

As for Southfields, I wish the developers well. They will face some New Castle County-like attitudes.

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