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Pa. firm converting Market St. offices into apartments

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WILMINGTON – The heart of downtown Wilmington will soon have even more residential options as a Pennsylvania-based real estate investment firm is converting a Market Street office building into apartments.

The Westover Companies has launched a conversion project at 901 N. Market St. to create a new apartment complex. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

The Westover Companies, a 56-year-old firm based in King of Prussia, has started a $27 million conversion project at 901 N. Market St., which it bought at auction four years ago for $1.7 million.

The 112,000-square-foot, 14-story office building will be converted into 82 apartments with about 6,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The general contractor is Wohlsen Construction of Wilmington, while the project architect is Dever Architects, of Glen Mills, Pa. The project is scheduled to be built by the end of 2022.

Westover already owns and operates two other apartment complexes in the city: Delfe Apartments at Trolley Square and Gilpin Place. The North Market Street building dates back to 1893, when it was built for Equitable Guarantee and Trust.

“One of the reasons we went after it was that it seemed like an appropriate price, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and we’re on it,” David McManus, then-vice president of commercial development at Westover, told Delaware Business Times in 2017.

While Westover had originally sought to lease the space out as offices, it has since pivoted back to its primary focus of multi-family residential.

Requests to Westover to discuss the new project this month were not returned.

The 901 Market complex will join a rapidly developing Market Street corridor that is turning into a destination for residential living, especially among young professionals working in the city.

Just this year, heavyweight city developer Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) opened The Cooper, a 92-unit apartment complex in the Lower Market area, and 101 duPont Place, a 198-unit complex just off Rodney Square. It already owned and operated MKT, Market Street Village, The Residences at Mid-Town Park, and The Residences at Rodney Square in the corridor as well.

Reporting strong leasing trends at its properties, BPG announced this summer that it is redeveloping Lincoln Square in the Lower Market, adding 39 upper-floor apartment units over retail space by next summer in a $12 million project. It has also broken ground on the $62 million Crosby Hill, a 203-unit complex that will cover three buildings at 517 Shipley St. a block off Market Street.

It isn’t just BPG getting into the market, however, as New Jersey-based real estate investment firm Yada Properties bought the former Delaware College of Art and Design Saville dormitory at the corner of Market and King streets in January and is converting it into 42 apartment units. New York-based Dwight City Group also acquired a portfolio of 44 properties in the city totaling 204 multi-family units, including some near the Market Street corridor, for $14 million in April.

Quaker Arts, a 53-unit, arts-focused housing project was also launched just off the corridor last year, but its status remains unclear after its owner and developer, Connections Community Supports Programs, recently filed for bankruptcy amid federal charges.

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