Royal Farms eyes Elkton Road site
In the spring of 2020, Newark could have a new Royal Farms.
The convenience store chain known for its fried chicken is proposing to build a 4,649-square-foot store and 10 gas pumps at the corner of Otts Chapel and Elkton roads.
The 6-acre property currently houses Leon’s Garden World, Ewing Towing and Auto Repair and Summit International Corporation.
Shawn Tucker, an attorney representing the project, said Royal Farms is un-
der contract to lease the property, which currently sits just outside city limits. The company plans to seek annexation into the city of Newark and will ask city council to rezone it from industrial to business commercial.
Tucker has filed a sketch plan with the city. A formal plan will be filed after the company gets feedback from neighbors. If approved, construction would take six to eight months.
Tucker argued that a Royal Farms is in line with the city’s comprehensive development plan for that area. In the comprehensive development plan, it is recommended that the site be used commercially.
“[The land] is crying out for redevelopment,” he said. “Industrial zoning is not the most compatible with the neighboring residential areas. Royal Farms would fit nicely with what the city has in its comprehensive plan.”
The property does not share a property line with a residential area, but it is close to the Village of Twin Lakes, a neighborhood located off Elkton Road.
Tucker said he will form a working group of about eight to 12 neighbors who live in the immediate area – within about a mile of the proposed Royal Farms – to discuss the plans for redevelopment.
The group would meet for six months to a year and try to reach a consensus about the property and community. Those interested in participating in the working group can contact Tucker via email at Shawn.Tucker@dbr.com or by phone at 302-467-4242.
“The client is committed to working with the immediate neighbors for a desirable development process,” he said. “[Royal Farms] is a good neighbor; they listen to what the community wants.”
Tucker said the convenience store would be an alternative to the Wawa nearby, especially for traffic heading toward Newark.
He claimed the addition of a Royal Farms would not bring in more traffic.
“They feed off existing traffic [that goes by] evening and morning,” he explained.
He noted that plans for the Royal Farms will preserve the greenery in front of Leon’s, as well as the wooded area that is at the rear of the property.
If approved, the store would be the 32nd Royal Farms in Delaware and the first in Newark city limits. The closest location currently is at the corner of Old Baltimore Pike and South Chapel Street.
Evan MacGuinness, owner of Leon’s Garden World, said his landlord informed him in the spring that the the property would be sold. MacGuinness, who bought Leon’s from the original owner four years ago, said that the other locations – one on Kirkwood Highway and one in New Castle – will remain open, as well as the wholesale location in Elkton, Md.
“We’re trying to take it as an opportunity,” he said.
He said the Kirkwood Highway and New Castle locations have doubled their business over the last few years, but the Newark location remained stagnant.
“This one has never really taken off, really,” he said. “If we were going to do another one, the way to do it would be to figure out a spot in Newark where they would let us have a garden center.”
The Newark location will be open through December. MacGuinness said he plans to sell all of the plants at the store and carry Christmas trees for the holiday.
A manager at Ewing Auto Repair stated that he were not sure where the business would be moving. A man who answered the phone at Summit Industrial declined to comment.
The parcel of land at the corner of Otts Chapel and Elkton roads is currently home to three businesses: Leon’s Garden World, Ewing Towing and Auto Repair and Summit Industrial Corporation.