Incyte drops plan to buy Wilmington Friends School property for $50 million

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A long-running legal battle between neighbors and Incyte may be over, with the pharma company writing off $5.6 million over the planned purchase of a portion of the Wilmington Friends School site.

In regulatory filings, Incyte stated the following:

“October 2019, we entered into an agreement with Wilmington Friends School Inc., to purchase property for $50.0 million, subject to certain closing conditions. As of September 30, 2023, these conditions have not been met, and we no longer expect the purchase to move forward. Accordingly, the related assets of approximately $5.6 million have been written off, as recorded on the condensed consolidated statements of operations in selling, general and administrative expenses.”

Incyte had proposed a major expansion of its headquarters site near the school and touched off a lengthy legal battle with neighbors over the project.

In return for Incyte buying the property, Friends School would have consolidated its upper and lower schools into one building. It was not immediately known if Friends would move forward with that plan and put the parcel on the market.

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Incyte and Friends was sent messages seeking comment.

Fast-growing Incyte has been boxed in by the location of its headquarters and research center site at the former Wanamaker building adjacent to the Friends School site in the Alapocas neighborhood near Wilmington. The average home sale price in the affluent neighborhood is $750,000.

However, opposition also came from neighborhood groups outside of Alapocas, with indications that buildings would be visible from parklands and not fit in with the leafy area.

Neighbors for Responsible Land Use, a group organized to oppose the sale of the Friends School site, noted that the New Castle Department of Land Use announced that it is recommending that New Castle County Council remove the lower school parcel from the comprehensive rezoning ordinance and require that any future rezoning of the parcel be accompanied by a development plan.

There were also reports that Incyte was also influenced by the cost of the project and a decline in its stock price.

The company has grown rapidly, thanks in large part to its breakthrough drug Jakafi. It is now working to build a pipeline that diversifies its portfolio. Incyte had earlier expressed a desire to consolidate its operations at the headquarters site. It now leases office space in the area.

Thanks to a higher office vacancy rate in the county, Incyte might now be able to negotiate more favorable lease deals.

The business and government communities have been largely silent regarding the controversy involving the school site, but privately express concern that New Castle County could revert to its past reputation as a not in my backyard environment where businesses have trouble expanding.

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