UD’s revised fall schedule bad news for Newark area economy

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Good afternoon,

The decision by the University of Delaware to keep the bulk of its fall classes online did not come as a big surprise.

The decision marks a ratcheting down of a hybrid approach featuring small classes and online instruction. Earlier, fall sports were canceled, a move that will take millions of dollars out of the economy.

Despite some misinformation floating around the blogosphere, UD will remain partially open, with one dormitory occupant per room. A limited number of non-Zoom classes will be held.

The impact of the decision on the economies of the Newark area and the state of Delaware will be profound.

With long-time blue-collar employers like Avon and Chrysler long gone, UD is now the only game in town. With the summer slowdown stretching into fall, the number of vacant retail and restaurant spaces along Main Street will continue to grow.

One big question – Will we see an end to the boom in student apartments that come with waiting lists and command rents of thousands of dollars a month for multiple occupants?

The spread of the upscale housing allowed UD to continue to increase enrollment while at the same time tearing down aging dorms. Still, interest rates are low and investment capital is available for those willing to gamble on a quick recovery.

In an election year, we will hear talk about a bungling of the reopening process in Delaware.

While some decisions are head-scratchers, it is clear that Delaware is far from lockdown status. You can get a haircut, dine indoors, and even attend the state fair.

Neighboring New Jersey, which has better Covid-19 metrics than Delaware remains under tighter restrictions that include a quarantine for Delaware travelers. So much for that trip to Atlantic City, where you still have to dine outside.

The danger is that an outbreak spreading north could lead to more closings. Baltimore, a short drive down I-95 has beenidentified by federal health officials as a likely hotspot for a surge in coronavirus cases. Indoor dining at restaurants in Baltimore is coming to an end.

And while Delaware’s Covid-19 dashboard looks OK, the virus is very much present in the community, with future outbreaks likely.

For now, the best that townies and those living around Newark can do is safely support businesses and quit complaining about parking. Believe me, a short walk won’t hurt.

Enjoy your weekend and stay safe. This newsletter returns on Monday. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer

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