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Century Engineering office in Dover sold for $8.9M

Katie Tabeling
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The building built by Century Engineering in 2019 was sold in June for $8.9 million | PHOTO COURTESY OF GOOGLE MAPS

DOVER — The patriarch of a family-owned auto dealership empire has bought a prominent office building in Dover, right between major state highways.

Lou Cohen, the former president and CEO of Priority 1 Automotive in the Baltimore suburbs, acquired the two-story office building on 550 S. Bay Road in Dover for $8.9 million on June 3. Century Engineering, a multi-discipline consulting engineering firm, has operated out of the building on the road that spans between the Route 1 ramp and U.S. Route 13 since 2019.

Bay Road One, a limited liability company traced to Century Engineering CEO Francis Smyth, bought the land in 2017 — when it was still vacant — for $1.4 million. Construction started in May 2018 and finished in September 2019.

The sale, which was brokered by CBRE Group, was for the 4-acre parcel. There are two empty lots, each under an acre-and-a-half in size, in front of Century Engineering still on the market.

“We bought the building to hold onto as an investment. It’s our first purchase in Delaware, and we have been looking at real estate there for a long time,” Cohen told the Delaware Business Times in an interview. “We like the area, but we haven’t been successful until now. It’s a good investment.”

Since 2000, Cohen served at the head of Priority 1 Automotive and managed at least nine luxury car dealerships in Maryland as well as Admiral Leasing, which leases cars and manages fleets. His children Alison and Marc Cohen served as top executives in Priority 1 Automotive as well.

Last November, Cohen and his family, who served in other leadership roles, sold the operation to AutoNation. Cohen Bay LLC is still registered at the same address and suite as Admiral Leasing.

Cohen told DBT he has no immediate interest in redeveloping the property, but noted that there was room to expand if things change.

“Delaware is a very interesting area, and we’re still in the market for real estate,” he said.

Century Engineering is a full-service consulting engineering firm with 16 Mid-Atlantic offices. It is one of the largest engineering firms in the First State, working on major projects with the Department of Transportation like the Route 1 corridor and bicycle/pedestrian pathways throughout the state, according to the Delaware State News.

The firm has 70 full-time employees who work out of the Dover office. Century Engineering opened its original Dover office in 1987, and later moved to an office at 4134 DuPont Highway before building a new office.

The Kleinfelder Group, a engineering and design firm based in San Diego, acquired Century Engineering in November 2021. It was the fifth firm in two years that the Kleinfelder Group acquired.

Kleinfelder Executive Vice President Scott Rathfron, who oversees the Delaware offices, confirmed that the firm has signed a lease to stay in the building for the “foreseeable future.”

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