Royal Farms eyes Elk­ton Road site

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE SCHULTZ bschultz@ches­pub.com

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.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY BROOKE SCHULTZ

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.

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