The New Castle County Council gave the unanimous go-ahead for a traffic waiver for the redevelopment of the former DuPont Barley Mill site.
Wegmans plans to build a store at the site west of Wilmington. The project has drawn strong support, despite strong opposition to a previous effort from the Stoltz interests.
By contrast, the Pettinaro project is said to be smaller in scale. Pettinaro’s plans call for offices, apartments, and townhouses in the largely vacant complex with DuPont’s office buildings that are obsolete by today’s standards.
A bruising battle over a massive retail complex at the site led to New Castle County and Stoltz going to court, with the county winning one round.
Stoltz later sold the site and its Greenville retail center interests to local developer Pettinaro, which worked to improve relationships with residents and Greenville retail tenants.
Wegmans, which has a store in the Chadds Ford area that draws northern Delaware residents, quickly generated strong support for its plans for a large-format supermarket that comes with a restaurant and vast selection of carryout food and deli selections.
Family-owned Wegmans has long been listed as one of the nation’s top employers. The 100-store company has been expanding along the East Coast and has moved into New England and North Carolina.
There were worries that some of the opponents to the Stoltz plans would re-emerge. However, supporters seem to have vastly outnumbered traffic-focused opponents this time around.
Northern Delaware has long been a difficult environment for new supermarket chains, due to development policies from the 1990s. Efforts have been underway under current County Executive Matt Meyer to provide more flexibility.
Whole Foods reportedly scouted the market but could not find a suitable location. Food Lion has been more successful with smaller stores that can go into shopping centers with suitable zoning and parking.
The project is probably of greater concern to Acme Markets, which operates smaller stores in Trolley Square, Kirkwood Highway, Concord Pike and Prices Corner, all areas that would feel the effects of a Wegmans.
Acme, the long-time No 1 player in the supermarket business lost that title to Shoprite.
Acme’s parent Albertsons has been closing stores, including a Safeway off Naamans Road in north Wilmington that was across the highway from an Acme.
Unlike Whole Foods (which has been dubbed Whole Paycheck) Wegmans prices on everyday items are viewed as competitive with other grocers.