Concord Pike’s makeover is underway

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Good afternoon all,

Monday’s column on changes on Kirkwood Highway brought a response from a business owner who opened an establishment a few years ago along the heavily traveled route.

His assessment was more upbeat than mine as he pointed to new businesses taking over vacant space. More are on the way, he said. He is correct about savvy business owners scouting out sites for their enterprises and Kirkwood Highway can check off a lot of the boxes.

Similar changes are taking place at a more rapid pace along Concord Pike, according to a recent story in Delaware Public Media from Eileen Dallabrida

The two corridors have similarities that include homes near retail areas and store vacancies. The difference is the wave of redevelopment that is already taking place in and around Concord Pike that will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars when all is said and done.

The boom includes two massive projects, the conversion of Concord Plaza into a mixed-use residential, office, restaurant and apartment complex, and Avenue North, a mixed-use project at the former AstraZeneca campus in Fairfax.

A new campus for Wilmington University across from Concord Mall is yet another drawing card.

A controversial plan to put homes and apartments at the former Brandywine Country Club is also in the works and smaller sites are being converted from one-tenant stores or strip centers to new designs.

Not everyone is happy. Some people are happy that the AstraZeneca site has less traffic, never mind the loss of jobs. The Wilmington University project also brought open space advocates who did not view it as a tract near a shopping center.

Walkability is also a problemalong Concord Pike, thanks to decades of poor planning that we also see on Kirkwood Highway and more people willing to take their chances.

Concord Pike still faces its share of other challenges. Concord Mall is seeing the effects of the so-called retail apocalypse and Brandywine Town Center remains a curious combination of retail and hard to lease office space.

Still, it is clear that retailers like the demographics and traffic patterns along Concord Pike as shown by Sprouts’ plans to convert the former Barnes & Noble store into a supermarket.

Perhaps the latest upsurge on Concord Pike might also lead to the focus shifting to Kirkwood Highway, if economic conditions and real estate prices are favorable.

Enjoy your weekend and here’s hoping you are able to stretch Labor Day weekend by a day. Delaware Business Now’s newsletter will take a break on Monday and return on Tuesday.

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