BPG celebrates milestone in new Marlette Funding HQ
WILMINGTON — Raising the last structural beam on its three-story building at The Concord off U.S. Route 202, The Buccini/Pollin Group hoped to offer a beacon of hope amid a foggy and gloomy Friday morning.
That beam marks the completion of structural work for the headquarters of financial technology company Marlette Funding in BPG’s mixed-use development. For Delaware, it also symbolizes the growing presence of fintech in the state’s economy.
Marlette Funding, developer and operator of the Best Egg consumer-lending platform, is expected to bring around 400 jobs once the headquarters begins a phased opening in 2021. Those jobs may range from loan processors to executive staff, according to BPG officials.
“Delaware is the big secret in this sector. There’s just been so much growth in the last couple of years even against San Francisco and New York, and many of these companies have offices right here, like Paypal and Acorns,” Chris Buccini, co-president of BPG, told the Delaware Business Times. “This site was home to dynamic companies in chemicals and later AstraZeneca. Now it’s going to be part of a highly successful fintech company and be part of this evolution.”
BPG purchased the former Concord Plaza in 2003 and in 2016 launched an extensive mixed-use redevelopment project. The first phase, completed in June 2019, built 166 luxury apartments and high-end retail space at The Concord. The second phase will bring additional apartments, retail, and office space, including Marlette’s new headquarters. To date, BPG has invested more than $100 million in renovations at the 45-acre project.
In prepared comments during a topping out ceremony Friday, Buccini said that the residential buildings are about 99% occupied and office space is around 92%. At one point in time, he said office occupancy dropped as low as 58%.
“We wanted to build a new office building here that never, ever would have been built without Marlette,” Buccini told a small crowd of elected leaders and developers. “We never gave up on this project and we continued to fight through it.”
Jeffrey Meiler, founder and CEO of Marlette Funding, called the new facility the cornerstone in fostering and nurturing the company culture that made the fintech company a success.
Since the company’s launch in 2014, Marlette funding has served more than 600,000 customers nationwide with more than $11 billion in personal loans. In 2021, the company plans to launch its first credit card.
“I’m really excited and proud to promote all Delaware has to offer the hype of the fintech industry,” Meiler said in a recorded video statement. “We very much look forward to better times when we’re able to interact in person, but that said, the way we work will likely look different than in the past. But we’re excited how this building is going to be designed to accommodate a new and progressive work environment.”
Once open for business, the Marlette Funding headquarters will be BPG’s first building designed with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind. Buccini said around April or May, the company decided to pull back and rethink how the office environment relates to the employee experience.
The headquarters will come with an enhanced HVAC system, touchless door entry and more open space, Buccini told DBT.
Looking to the future, Gov. John Carney said he believes fintech companies will play a pivotal part in the state’s economy, as they can easily tap into the state’s base of leading banks as well as young talent from the University of Delaware. It’s fitting for a new life in The Concord at a turbulent time in the job market.
“We certainly appreciate their willingness to take the risk and put so many people to work on these projects to create space. This is new and exciting and it attracts businesses to get our workers to shape,” he said.
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer noted that the 138 full-time construction jobs on this site would have been great any time, but during a pandemic it helped keep some Delawareans in business and innovative projects on track.
“BPG is really taking old sites that really aren’t inspiring and breathing a brand new vision,” Meyer said. “You can go and find an empty field and create something, but it’s a lot harder to reinvision an old space and what our community can be.”
By Katie Tabeling