19 sto­ries to watch in 2019

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON and BROOKE SCHULTZ Ne­wark Post

Will the planned Main Street con­struc­tion project have as big of an im­pact as many busi­ness own­ers fear?

How will the clo­sure of the Chris­tiana Tow­ers af fect the ren­tal hous­ing mar­ket and the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods?

With a 21-year-old Univer­sity of Delaware stu­dent chal­leng­ing Mayor Polly Sierer, and sev­eral coun­cil races pos­si­ble, how will the April mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion shape city pol­i­tics?

As nu­mer­ous projects wait in the wings, could 2019 be a record year for devel­op­ment in Ne­wark?

Will vot­ers in the Christina School Dis­trict ap­prove a ref­er­en­dum to raise school taxes?

Will city coun­cil im­ple­ment a se­ries of pro­pos­als that could dra­mat­i­cally re­shape the way the city ap­proaches down­town park­ing?

All those ques­tions and more are ex­pected to be an­swered in the com­ing year.

We’ve bro­ken down the 19 sto­ries to watch in 2019.

Main Street con­struc­tion

The orange con­struc­tion bar­rel may just be the defin­ing im­age of life in down­town Ne­wark this year.

Busi­nesses and mo­torists are brac­ing them­selves for 18 months of con­struc­tion be­gin­ning in April and end­ing in fall 2020. The Delaware De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion is plan­ning a full re­con­struc­tion of the road­way, which of­fi­cials say is nec­es­sary to ad­dress struc­tural prob­lems in the con­crete be­low the road sur­face.

The work will be­gin at both ends – near the Ne­wark Li­brar y and near the in­ter­sec­tion with South Main Street – and then move closer to the heart of the busi­ness dis­trict. One lane of traf­fic will re­main open at all times, and the con­trac­tor will be re­quired to main­tain pub­lic ac­cess to drive­ways and park­ing lots, as well as the side­walks on both sides of the street.

Crews will also in­stall parklets and other pedestrian up­grades.

Busi­ness own­ers, mean­while, are wor­ried that the con­struc­tion will keep cus­tomers away and cause some busi­nesses to close.

Devel­op­ment projects

It could be a record year for devel­op­ment projects in Ne­wark.

Sev­eral apart­ment projects, to­tal­ing more than 600 units and 1,400 bed­rooms, are work­ing their way through the city’s ap­proval process. Among the more sig­nif­i­cant projects are Col­lege Square (305 units), the Dick­in­son dorm site (189 units) and 1501 Casho Mill Road (48 to 60 units).

Ma­jor non-hous­ing pro­pos­als in­clude an as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­ity on Barksdale Road and a Royal Farms at the site of Leon’s Gar­den World on Elk­ton Road.

All those projects and more could be voted on this year, though the ex­act tim­ing de­pends on how quickly the de­vel­op­ers move through the plan­ning de­part­ment process.

For a com­plete list of projects, turn to page 10.

Mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion

The April 9 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion is al­ready shap­ing up to be in­ter­est­ing, as Ne­wark will see its first may­oral race in six years.

Ka­sai Guthrie, a 21-year-old UD un­der­grad­u­ate, is chal­leng­ing Mayor Polly Sierer, who was elected in 2013 and ran un­op­posed in 2016.

In ad­di­tion, there will be elec­tions in coun­cil districts 1, 2 and 4, which are cur­rently held by Mark More­head, Jerry Clifton and Chris Hamilton.

Ex­pect more can­di­dates to start fil­ing in mid-Jan­uar y. The fil­ing dead­line is Feb. 4.

Chris­tiana Tow­ers clo­sure

Fol­low­ing UD’s abrupt de­ci­sion to close the Chris­tiana Tow­ers, Ne­wark en­ters 2019 with lin­ger­ing ques­tions – pri­mar­ily, what sort of trickle-down ef­fects the city will see.

When the tow­ers close in May, 1,300 beds will be re­moved from the city’s sup­ply of stu­dent hous­ing. The new South Col­lege Av­enue dorm planned to par­tially re­place the tow­ers won’t be built for sev­eral more years. UD said it would re­place some of the beds from the tow­ers by ac­quir­ing the Univer­sity Court­yard Apart­ments, but that is not adding beds; it’s sim­ply tak­ing a pri­vately man­aged apart­ment com­plex and bring­ing it un­der UD con­trol.

As the univer­sity con­tin­ues to ex­pand the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, many fear it will push de­vel­op­ers to build more off-cam­pus hous­ing and push more stu­dents into res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods.

City coun­cil is ex­pected to hold a spe­cial meet­ing in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary to dis­cuss the is­sue and brain­storm pos­si­ble solutions.

Main Street ho­tels

Two ho­tels cur­rently un­der con­sid­er­a­tion could dra­mat­i­cally change the look of Main Street.

Lang Devel­op­ment Group wants to build 147 ho­tel rooms, a restau­rant, 19,500 square feet of of­fice space and a park­ing garage at 96 E Main St., across from the Academy Street in­ter­sec­tion. If ap­proved, it would be the tallest build­ing down­town. Mean­while, Dan­ne­man & Dan­ne­man LLC’s plan calls for de­mol­ish­ing the build­ing at 132 E. Main St. – which houses Tasty Wok, Playa Bowls and the for­mer Margherita’s Pizza – and build­ing an 88-room ho­tel, 12 apart­ments, re­tail space and a park­ing garage.

Lang has an am­bi­tious timetable with hopes of be­gin­ning con­struc­tion this sum­mer, so the plan­ning com­mis­sion and city coun­cil could vote on it in the com­ing months. How­ever, the Dan­ne­man project is still in the pre­lim­i­nary phases.

Christina ref­er­en­dum

The Christina School Dis­trict is plan­ning an op­er­at­ing ref­er­en­dum this fall.

Vot­ers will be asked to ap­prove a pro­posed tax in­crease of ap­prox­i­mately 20 cents per $100 of as­sessed prop­erty value for fis­cal year 2020 and 5 cents for each fol­low­ing year through fis­cal year 2022. How­ever, the school board has not yet of­fi­cially ap­proved a ref­er­en­dum nor set the rate.

A sec­ond ref­er­en­dum, which would pay for cap­i­tal im­prove­ments, is ten­ta­tively sched­uled for 2020.

STAR Cam­pus

Af­ter years of plan­ning, Ne­wark’s new train sta­tion will fi­nally open this fall at the north­ern edge of the Univer­sity of Delaware’s STAR Cam­pus.

Crews de­mol­ished the ex­ist­ing struc­ture – a small guard­house – and are con­struct­ing an ac­tual sta­tion build­ing fea­tur­ing a wait­ing area, ticket kiosks and re­strooms. It will be manned by se­cu­rity guards. A fu­ture phase of the project, in­clud­ing a pedestrian bridge over the tracks and an el­e­vated plat­form, will be com­pleted in 2021.

Mean­while con­struc­tion will con­tinue on the Che­mours head­quar­ters and UD’s bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal build­ing, though they aren’t ex­pected to open un­til early 2020.

It’s likely more STAR Cam­pus projects will be an­nounced this year, as UD is said to be weigh­ing of­fers from 38 com­pa­nies look­ing to lo­cate there.

Shop­ping cen­ters

It looks to be an­other year of progress for many of Ne­wark’s shop­ping cen­ters.

The most watched will be Col­lege Square, where the prop­erty owner is propos­ing a large-scale renovation that in­cludes build­ing 305 apart­ments, ex­tend­ing Delaware Av­enue through the shop­ping cen­ter and build­ing new re­tail space sur­round­ing the road ex­ten­sion.

The project, which would be a shot in the arm for the va­can­cy­plagued cen­ter that lost Kmart as its an­chor this fall, will likely be voted on by city coun­cil this year.

Mean­while, ren­o­va­tions in Fair­field Shop­ping Cen­ter are al­most com­plete, and the long-awaited Food Lion is ex­pected to open soon.

The Park N Shop, which re­cently wel­comed Jerry’s Ar­tarama, will con­tinue to grow with the open­ing of Margherita’s Pizza (which is mov­ing there from Main Street) and the Tai­wanese karaoke bar Hsiang K. The shop­ping cen­ter owner is also plan­ning to tear down the old bank build­ing and re­place it with 12 apart­ments and ad­di­tional re­tail space.

In Ne­wark Shop­ping Cen­ter, Good­will will open its ex­panded store this month, and two restau­rants, WingS­top and Qualitea, are also slated to open this year.

Down­town park­ing

A pro­posal to in­crease the cost of park­ing down­town failed in 2018, but some coun­cil mem­bers have in­di­cated they want to re­visit the is­sue this year.

The city is also eval­u­at­ing bold rec­om­men­da­tions from the plan­ning com­mis­sion that could dra­mat­i­cally al­ter the way the city ap­proaches park­ing down­town. The rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude im­ple­ment­ing dy­namic pric­ing that changes ac­cord­ing to de­mand, es­tab­lish­ing a shut­tle ser vice to bring peo­ple in from lots on the out­skirts of town and elim­i­nat­ing park­ing re­quire­ments for down­town de­vel­op­ments.

An­other is­sue weigh­ing on city of­fi­cials is how to re­place the 97 on-street park­ing spa­ces that will be blocked by the Main Street con­struc­tion project. The city will de­mol­ish two for­mer UD build­ings on Delaware Av­enue in order to ex­pand the lot be­hind The Gal­le­ria, and of­fi­cials are eval­u­at­ing where they can add tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent me­tered park­ing spa­ces on sur­round­ing roads.

Rod­ney stormwa­ter pond

Af­ter years of dis­cus­sion over the fu­ture of UD’s Rod­ney dorm site, the Hill­side Road prop­erty will start trans­form­ing into a stormwa­ter pond and park.

Vot­ers ap­proved bor­row­ing $9 mil­lion for the project, which of­fi­cials say will al­le­vi­ate flood­ing in Oak­lands, Old Ne­wark and Devon. The city hopes to make the Rod­ney site a “unique recre­ational des­ti­na­tion” that in­cludes a lighted walk­ing/bik­ing trail, play­ground, fish­ing pier, out­door classroom, park­ing lot and an open lawn for pic­nics and other ac­tiv­i­ties.

Work­ers are cur­rently do­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal re­me­di­a­tion at the site. De­mo­li­tion of the dorms has been de­layed slightly and will be­gin this fall af­ter the ad­ja­cent Oak­lands Swim Club closes for the sea­son. The park is ex­pected to open in fall 2020.

City man­ager

Af­ter more than 18 months of un­cer­tainty, Ne­wark should fi­nally have a per­ma­nent city man­ager early this year, as­sum­ing con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions with Act­ing City Man­ager Tom Cole­man go well.

The big­ger ques­tion is how Cole­man will put his stamp on city gov­ern­ment af­ter the “act­ing” is re­moved from his ti­tle.

Among his first tasks will be fill­ing sev­eral va­cant po­si­tions on his staff and find­ing ways to im­prove em­ployee morale af­ter a re­cent em­ployee sur­vey found di­vi­sions within city hall and mis­trust be­tween coun­cil and em­ploy­ees.

Med­i­cal mar­i­juana

Ne­wark’s first med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary will open on Ogle­town Road at the site of the for­mer Alexan­der’s Lawn and Gar­den.

The dis­pen­sary was sup­posed to open early in 2018 but did not. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Com­pas­sion­ate Care Re­search In­sti­tute de­clined to com­ment on the de­lay but con­firmed last week that the fa­cil­ity will open in the spring.

Christina trans­for­ma­tion

Last year saw the first part of the Christina School Dis­trict’s new strate­gic plan, rolled out un­der Su­per­in­ten­dent Richard Gregg, who took the helm of the dis­trict in 2017. This year, the dis­trict will con­tinue to evolve through large-scale changes, such as a reimag­i­na­tion of the high schools.

All three high schools, which will of­fer con­cen­trated ca­reer path­ways that will give each school a spe­cific brand and fo­cus, will un­dergo the be­gin­ning phases of that evo­lu­tion in the next school year. Ne­wark High School will have the School of Arts and the School of In­no­va­tion, Glas­gow High will be­come the School of Hos­pi­tal­ity & Culi­nary Arts and School of Busi­ness & Hu­man­i­ties, and Chris­tiana will roll out the School of Agri­cul­tural Sci­ences and the School of Health Sci­ences.

Ne­wark Part­ner­ship

The Ne­wark Part­ner­ship, the re­place­ment for the Down­town Ne­wark Part­ner­ship, will take shape this year.

The non­profit’s broad goals are to pro­mote eco­nomic devel­op­ment, cre­ate an in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing net­work for lo­cal non­prof­its and be a cat­a­lyst for com­mu­ni­ty­wide con­ver­sa­tions about im­prov­ing the fu­ture of Ne­wark, but so far, specifics have been scarce. An or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee is still de­vel­op­ing the by­laws and mem­ber­ship lev­els and de­ter­min­ing the first projects the group will work on.

The Part­ner­ship will be un­der pres­sure to show early suc­cesses be­cause a skep­ti­cal city coun­cil has in­di­cated its will­ing­ness to con­trib­ute to the or­ga­ni­za­tion will de­pend on whether the group can demon­strate its abil­ity to get re­sults.

Two cru­cial de­ci­sions will be who to hire as the group’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and what mem­ber­ship ben­e­fits will con­vince busi­ness own­ers and res­i­dents to pay to join the Part­ner­ship.

Bike trail up­grades

Two projects planned for this year will im­prove con­di­tions for cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans in Ne­wark.

The city is plan­ning to im­prove and pave a trail that runs from Fre­mont Road in Fair­field Crest to the Pomeroy Trail, giv­ing pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists easy ac­cess to head north into White Clay Creek State Park or south to­ward down­town and the Hall Trail. The trail should be open by late sum­mer.

Con­struc­tion of the Charles Emer­son Bi­cy­cle/Pedestrian Bridge is also slated to be­gin some time in 2019. The bridge will be built just to the west of the ve­hic­u­lar Pa­per Mill Road bridge over White Clay Creek and will con­nect Ker­shaw Park with the new Curtis Mill Park.

Self-driv­ing bus

UD’s STAR Cam­pus could see a self-driv­ing bus this spring.

The Delaware Tran­sit Cor­po­ra­tion, which runs the DART bus ser­vice, plans to pur­chase one shut­tle bus and test it around the STAR Cam­pus, where of­fi­cials will study how the bus “talks” to cur­rent trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture, traf­fic sig­nals and other de­vices.

The project will be paid for by the Delaware De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion. The univer­sity will con­trib­ute to op­er­a­tion costs and re­search and will be re­spon­si­ble for op­er­at­ing and main­tain­ing the shut­tle, ac­cord­ing to a DTC spokesper­son. Aetna Hose, Hook and Lad­der Com­pany will spend the year de­cid­ing where to build a new fire sta­tion af­ter an­nounc­ing last year that it reached an agree­ment to sell its ag­ing Sta­tion 8 on Ogle­town Road.

Of­fi­cials said they are look­ing for a new lo­ca­tion nearby, though they may first move to a tem­po­rary space while the new sta­tion is built. Aetna can re­main at Sta­tion 8 at least through the year while the un­named buyer com­pletes due dili­gence on the sale.

UD is in talks to as­sist Aetna with ac­quir­ing a new site. An early pos­si­bil­ity was a va­cant UD-owned plot on Wyoming Road next to the Delaware Tech­nol­ogy Park and across from Col­lege Square, a city of­fi­cial said two years ago. How­ever, it’s un­clear if that site is still un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

Also of in­ter­est is what the buyer of Sta­tion 8 – be­lieved to be the same com­pany that owns the ho­tel next door – plans to do with the prop­erty.

UD con­struc­tion

A num­ber of con­struc­tion projects will be­gin at UD.

Cafes in the Mor­ris Li­brary and Graham Hall will see up­grades, and new steam pipes will be in­stalled on the South Green, a spokesman said.

UD is also plan­ning an ad­di­tion and ren­o­va­tions to Drake Lab, ren­o­va­tions to Wor­rilow Hall and the ad­di­tion of a vi­var­ium to the build­ing at 77 E. Delaware Ave., ac­cord­ing to city of­fi­cials, though a UD spokesman de­clined to pro­vide de­tails.

The univer­sity will also be­gin the de­sign phase for the South Col­lege Res­i­dence Hall, a new $80 mil­lion, 600-bed dor­mi­tory near the Mor­ris Li­brary.

White Clay Creek State Park

State of­fi­cials are ex­pected to com­plete a master plan for White Clay Creek State Park this year.

The plan was the sub­ject of sev­eral pub­lic meet­ings last year.

The plan­ning process will con­sider a num­ber of is­sues, in­clud­ing whether to re­lo­cate the park of­fice and na­ture cen­ter to larger build­ings, how to pre­serve his­tor­i­cal sites and what types of up­grades are needed at fa­cil­i­ties like the Judge Mor­ris Es­tate.


A Food Lion is ex­pected to open in Fair­field Shop­ping Cen­ter soon, much to the sat­is­fac­tion of lo­cal res­i­dents who have been clam­or­ing for a new gro­cery store since Su­per­fresh closed in 2015.


The new train sta­tion on the STAR Cam­pus will open this fall.


The Univer­sity of Delaware bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals lab is one of two ma­jor projects un­der con­struc­tion at the STAR Cam­pus.


DelDOT will build parklets on Main Street as part of the con­struc­tion project be­gin­ning this spring.


Aetna Hose, Hook and Lad­der Com­pany will spend the year look­ing for a new home af­ter reach­ing an agree­ment to sell Sta­tion 8 on Ogle­town Road.


An artist’s ren­der­ing shows a pedestrian/bi­cy­cle bridge that will be built over White Clay Creek next to Pa­per Mill Road.


The Univer­sity of Delaware and DelDOT will be­gin test­ing and uti­liz­ing a driver­less shut­tle on the STAR Cam­pus this spring. Pic­tured here is the Arma, a driver­less elec­tric shut­tle that was in­tro­duced to the Univer­sity of Michi­gan cam­pus re­cently. Michi­gan is the first col­lege cam­pus to use this tech­nol­ogy.

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