Plans for a massive building on Newark’s Main Street created a stir among residents this week but managed to get approval from the city Planning Commission.Earlier, the city planning staff gave its OK.
The recommendation on 141 East Main Street now goes to the City Council for a final vote.
The structure would go up in an area that now houses the popular Duck Donuts and Starbucks locations and the Del-One credit union and Simon Eye Associates.
The secret sauce behind the project lies in a partial solution to Newark’s downtown parking dilemma. As the proposal now stands, a portion of the behemoth’s parking spaces would go to the city, which will manage the area.
To date, the City Council has punted on the parking issue, with the private sector unable to come up with a workable solution.
The parking area could partially solve issues on that portion of Main Street. One nearby business, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant has made noises about moving elsewhere if parking problems cannot be resolved.
It is worth noting that the city’s hands are largely tied when it comes to rejecting the project outright. Current codes allow massive buildings on Main Street that take away the college-small town feel that many fondly remember.
One could also argue about the aesthetics of the building’s design, said to be modeled after a Philadelphia department store. Based on the renderings, my personal view is that the design in no way fits reflects the look and feel of Main Street.
But the bottom line is that if the developer has sufficient determination and financial resources, the project will be pushed through.
It is worth noting that a couple of other projects with mid-rise features are either delayed or on pause.
It remains unclear how the University of Delaware and other institutions of higher education will emerge from the pandemic and whether its business model based on growing enrollment can continue.
These questions cloud the outlook for the Newark economy. Still, it will not stop developers from moving forward in an era where residents can no longer fill up council chambers but instead have to listen to the audio.
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