Master plan for Concord Pike raises eyebrows

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Good afternoon,

Master plans often draw yawns.

That wasn’t the case last month with Concord Pike.

Residents turned out for the workshop from the (Wilmington Area Planning Council) WILMAPCO and by many accounts did not like what they saw on the busy route north of Wilmington.

WILMAPCO develops master plans as part of the transportation planning process used in allocating federal funds.

Under various scenarios in the master plan, the Concord Pike of the future would have better traffic circulation as well as more mid-rise construction, often in the form of apartments.

None of this comes as a surprise. Fewer young people are buying homes for financial and lifestyle reasons. Meanwhile, traffic is hampered by a lack of alternate routes and crossing Concord Pike in some spots is a difficult proposition for pedestrians.

One sign of the future is Avenue North, a mixed use project at the former AstraZeneca campus on the south end of Concord Pike.

The problem is that current residents rather like the current configuration of Concord Pike with its strip centers and many driveways. They fear independent retail and service businesses will be driven out.

For now, assembling the massive project residents seem to fear, would be tough. After all, there is a patchwork of ownership in the area that continues to be popular for retailers, restaurants and service businesses.

One wild card is the Brandywine Town Center, a large tract with a shopping center that fell short of its goal of becoming a retail hub. Instead, excess square footage was converted into office space. Redevelopment is inevitable.

State Sen. Cathy Cloutier, who represents a portion of the Concord Pike area, is a critic of the master plan. In a recent opinion piece, she wrote that the master plan suffers from a lack of community and business input.

Cloutier has a point, but Concord Pike will not remain in its present form. The post-war shopping centers are aging and redevelopment will take place. It only makes sense for planners to make sure transportation is considered.

Improving traffic circulation will be a difficult, given the configuration of the neighborhoods, but should not be ruled out.

WILMAPCO’s proposed vision for Concord may be decades away from becoming a reality and new development trends could emerge. But change is coming, and residents and planners should do their homework and come up with ideas thataddress their concerns and future trends.

Enjoy the weekend and the warmer weather. This newsletter returns on Monday.

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