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Milford industrial plans become clearer

Katie Tabeling

Combined, the Milford Corporate Center would include 3.7 million square feet of floor space if completely maxed out. | PHOTO COURTESY OF MILFORD

MILFORD — Milford officials got a first look at what the future may hold for its 182-acre industrial park off Route 14 earlier this month, and that future may include roughly two dozen lots for potential office and industrial businesses.

Preliminary concept plans for the future Milford Corporate Center show 27 lots measuring between 4 acres and 12 acres, varying in potential use. Zoning of the property is split between light industrial (LI), which would allow light industrial manufacturing, warehousing, wholesale and limited research establishments; and business park (BP), which would allow for office space. About 40 acres fronting Route 14 is zoned BP, while the remaining 142 acres is zoned LI.

Maximum floor space, if the development follows the concept plan exactly, would be 3.7 million square feet.

“This is before surveys, and this is all done at a high level at this point. But you can see that the planning is flexible and it supports both small and large users on the campus, taking advantage of the Route 15 and 14 corridor, visibility as well as having some public amenities,” Becker Morgan Group Vice President Mike Riemann told the city council on August 8.

In August 2021, the Milford City Council agreed to buy the former Fry farm between Canterbury Road (Route 15) and Milford Harrington Highway (Route 14) for $6.38 million. The land was previously zoned for garden apartments and highway commercial, but has been only used for a wheat field for many years.

The property is adjacent to the Milford Business Park, which has five lots available and is home to the city’s public works department, several medical offices, manufacturing companies, construction supply companies and various other businesses.

“The smaller companies may end up [in the Milford Business Park], and we really see this as an industrial, distribution hub to attract larger businesses,” Mayor Archie Campbell told the Delaware Business Times. “Personally, I think the industrial park is needed. Milford is booming, and since I moved here in 2006 there were maybe 6,300 people. Now it’s 12,000, and more on the outskirts. Keeping jobs here for our high school and college-aged residents is the key for the future.”

This concept map demostrates the stages of development for the Milford Corporate Center. | PHOTO COURTESY OF MILFORD

Becker Morgan Group also proposed a phased development approach in its concept plan, with the 65 acres in the 13 lots fronting Route 14 and Route 15 first. The second phase would include the three parcels facing Church Hill Road and two parcels in the center of the corporate center.

The third and final phase would include the 53 acres toward the rear of the corporate center.

“That opens up opportunities for both smaller business users and also potential for larger users to use the center of the site,” Riemann said. “A typical lot of 4 acres could have a 25,000-square-foot office. As you work toward the middle, where you have 5 or 6 acres, you can see a 75,000-square-foot space with office flex and warehouse.”

In the concept plan, offices may want to build on the smaller lots facing the Milford Harrington Highway, while the larger lots may entice more industrial companies. But the layout of the Milford Corporate Center would allow for combining lots, which would allow for more variety of tenants – and marketability of the site.

“We’ve seen sometimes you get 500,000-square-foot user combining five lots,” Riemann said. “Planning for the smaller and the ability to combine lots builds flexibility into the plan, and it’s a much simpler process to go back and combine lots.”

The Becker Morgan Group has planned for car and truck access from both Milford Harrington Highway and Canterbury Road, with a roundabout at the intersection of Canterbury Road and Airport Road. There would be plans for a water tower on the site, as well as wells for drinking water. 

There may be some alterations in the road access plans ahead, as during its review during the monthly Preliminary Land Use Service meeting on Aug. 24, Delaware Department of Transportation representative Stephen Breyer said the agency recommended no access from the Milford Harrington Highway to the Milford Corporate Complex. DelDOT would recommend an entrance on Church Hill Road, with which Becker Morgan representatives disagreed. Both parties agreed to meet again to discuss the matter.

When Milford officials bought the land, there was no water, sewer and electric infrastructure in place, and it has yet to be laid. Chesapeake Utilities has a natural gas line along Route 14 that city officials are confident could be used to tap into for the Milford Corporate Center, and there will be sewer lines and electric run through the site.

Earlier this year, Milford also signed a memorandum of understanding with developer NAI Emory Hill and management firm Tsionas Management to consult on planning and marketing the future industrial park.

Under the agreement, Tsionas and NAI Emory Hill will provide consulting services, including but not limited to market research, pre-construction and construction services, brokerage, legal support, marketing and maintenance. The city retains ownership of the land, but both firms retain exclusive rights to broker deals and market the land.

Construction is scheduled to begin in November or December 2023.

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