My take: Claymont’s warehouse boom

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Delaware’s distribution center/warehouse boom still has runway left, with Claymont reluctantly emerging as the new center of activity.

This week, a Georgia company got the green light for a state grant that would be put to work on a planned cold storage warehouse site at First State Crossing at the former Evraz steel mill site.

Also, a loan was secured for the developer of a spec warehouse with no announced tenants at the former Tri-State Mall site. Another is on tap at First State Crossing.

The three projects could bring a few hundred blue-collar jobs to the former mill town and keep the momentum going for a time when it comes to construction jobs. The comes on top of a distribution center nearing completion near the Wilmington Airport and other projects in various stages of development.

With easy access to interstates 95, 495, and the Port of Wilmington, the warehouses may have little trouble attracting business, including those around the region with less-than-ideal distribution space.

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For now, the northern Delaware industrial real estate market has a nearly zero vacancy rate, especially when it comes to state-of-the-art distribution sites.

For Claymont, the warehouse/logistics center boom is a bit of a disappointment, with Claymont Renaissance Development Corp. hoping that the projects are the last in the area.

One component of First State Crossing was the office and perhaps research and development space we saw at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia or Sparrows Point in the Baltimore area. Prospects have dimmed with the office market in the doldrums and Delle Donne building an office tower at the former AstraZeneca site.

The residential component remains promising if the numbers can work on badly needed apartments with some degree of affordability. Retail will also remain a challenge, although more housing would bring neighborhood retail and service businesses. That’s already happened to a limited extent.

The possibility of another distribution center is worth watching, given the amount of acreage at the steel mill site. Interest rates could play a role, although plenty of private equity money remains on the sidelines.

Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this post incorrectly reported that two projects were in the works in Claymont.

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