Long-awaited Cavaliers redevelopment moving forward
UPDATE: The New Castle County Council voted 12-0, with Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick present but not voting, to sign off on the final plan on July 28.
CHRISTIANA – When the long-awaited redevelopment of the former Cavaliers Country Club breaks ground in coming months, it will bring hundreds of new residential units to a northern New Castle County market that rarely sees such growth anymore.
The latest plans, which will be considered by the New Castle County Council for its final stamp of approval next week, no longer feature the commercial space that developer Carlino Commercial Development first proposed six years ago.
The 18-hole private golf course and country club opened in 1959 but agreed to sell the property to Pennsylvania-based Carlino in 2013 amid a decline in its membership. According to county land records, the property hasn’t changed hands yet.
The current plan calls for the building of 196 single-family homes, 130 townhouses, 100 twin homes and 288 apartment units, or a total 714 dwellings, on the 146-acre property. It will also feature an age-restricted portion of that housing for those 55 or older, including 62 townhouses, 40 single-family homes and 100 twin homes on the eastern side of the community.
While a builder for the community to be named The Reserves at Cavaliers Country Club has not been selected, many of the images shared with the public for visioning purposes come from Virginia-based Ryan Homes, which is building many communities in Delaware. According to its website, Wilmington-based Capano Management will oversee the apartment complexes. Carlino envisions many of the workers in the Route 273 and Route 4 corridor, including those at ChristianaCare, JPMorgan Chase, Delaware Technical Community College, and more, to be targets for the housing.
Several years ago, Carlino dropped its original plan to construct more than 375,000 square feet of commercial space that was opposed by residents of neighboring communities. It had called for a mix of retail, restaurant, office space, and even a multistory hotel next to the Christiana Mall, a destination for shoppers all over the region.
There will be a small portion of commercial mixed into the community, as the 27,800-square-foot, former clubhouse is anticipated to be turned into a restaurant. If successful, Carlino is proposing to expand the clubhouse with a 15,000-square-foot addition to potentially add in some additional retail business.
The proposed redevelopment on the northeastern border of the Christiana Mall had faced an uphill climb after many residents turned out to oppose its county rezoning application in 2018. A 10-2 vote by the county council allowed the move from suburban (S) to suburban transition (ST) zoning, however, clearing the way for higher density that added hundreds of additional homes.
To its credit, Carlino has worked hard to gain acceptance for the project from its neighbors, convening more than a dozen public meetings over the past few years to talk though concerns over traffic, landscaping, and building. The plan also calls for leaving more than 48 acres as open space, or about a third of the overall site.
During a review of the project during the council’s July 21 Land Use Committee meeting, councilmen Bill Bell and Ken Woods, who voted against the rezoning two years ago, said that they were pleased with where the plan stands today and thanked the developer for soliciting input from the site’s neighbors over many years.
“I think that is the benchmark of a successful development,” Bell said of those efforts.
With no opposition voiced during the land use meeting, it is anticipated that Carlino will receive final approval on the project July 28.
One of the biggest missing pieces from the development right now is a connection between the community and the neighboring mall property.
Shawn Tucker, the local legal counsel for Carlino on the project, told the county council during its land use meeting that there will be no road or pedestrian access linking the two. He explained that the mall’s owner, Brookfield Properties, did not approve of a road interconnection between Churchmans Road and the mall that many had wanted, and terms could not be reached to enable a pedestrian path either. Brookfield sought to have open-ended rights to move the pathway into the future should it choose to, with the community bearing the cost of doing so.
“We certainly objected to that kind of provision. Developers don’t typically continue a financial obligation for an undisclosed period of time,” Tucker said.
The community will benefit, however, from the future addition of a connector road between Churchmans Road and Center Boulevard, near the Christiana Fashion Center adjoining the mall. Carlino will invest $1 million into building the road through its property while the Delaware Department of Transportation has committed to picking it up at the edge of its property and running it to the Route 1 interchange road.
Tucker told Delaware Business Times that, if approved by council, the Cavaliers project could break ground as early as this year, depending on the progress to remediate some environmental issues left over from the former golf course.
By Jacob Owens