Chestnut Run developer secures $63 million in debt-based financing


Two area lenders have agreed to provide financing for the redevelopment of a former DuPont site.

MRA Group, a privately held real estate development and client services firm, announced it secured the financing for the ongoing redevelopment of Chestnut Run Innovation & Science Park (CRISP), a 164-acre, 14-building campus.

In conjunction with Nuveen Green Capital through C-Pace, Fulton Bank financed $50 million, while Wilmington-based WSFS Bank provided the remaining $13 million. C-Pace funds will be used to make the campus more energy efficient.

“Our continued relationship with Fulton and WSFS Bank, along with our new relationship with Nuveen Green Capital are testaments to the capital markets’ belief in the long-term vision of CRISP,” stated MRA Executive Vice President and Partner Phil Butler. “I’m very proud of our team’s ability to execute on creative capital structures that allow us to accomplish our goals, particularly during this challenging economic environment.” MRA is based in suburban Philadelphia.

The CRISP term is also reminiscent of Crispr gene-editing bioscience technology.


The utilization of C-PACE financing via Nuveen is a first for MRA, but undoubtedly a program that will gain traction for the organization given their commitment to developing energy-efficient buildings. “It was a pleasure to work with MRA Group and Fulton Bank on this major deal,” said Nuveen Green Capital Senior Director of Originations Shelah Wallace. “We are excited to see the energy-efficient developments at CRISP.”

“The potential for CRISP and its impact on the Wilmington region is very exciting,” said Fulton Bank Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Bill Grasso. “We are happy to continue working with MRA Group and supporting this growing project.”

MRA will use the funds for the continued redevelopment efforts at CRISP, including renovated buildings for lab, R&D, and advanced manufacturing. Additional plans for the campus include amenities such as a hotel, fitness center, conference space, an outdoor amphitheater, and accommodations for food services.

The campus has already attracted Prelude Therapeutics and Delaware water-focused chemical company Solenis.

Developers hope to attract mature and young companies moving out of incubators like the nearby Innovation Space at the Experimental Station.

MRA earlier estimated that campus development would run $1 billion, the Philadelphia Business Journal, (paywall) reported.

MRA also sold off a minority interest in a science-based campus in the Philadelphia suburbs for $100 million as it focuses on Chestnut Run.

The Horsham, PA developer acquired the campus from Delaware-based Delle Donne Associates for $40 million. Delle Donne bought the property from DuPont Co. but is now focused on Avenue North, the former AstraZeneca campus, and the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus in Newark. All players seek science and tech-based companies, although Avenue North focuses on office rather than lab space.

DuPont, which a few decades ago employed 25,000, has disposed of its once vast real estate holdings. DuPont’s headcount has dropped to a few thousand as many of its businesses were sold off. As a result, research budgets were slashed after billions of dollars was spent on “moon shot” breakthroughs that never materialized.