CSC opens high-tech hallmark CSC Station on the Riverfront
WILMINGTON — When the Riverfront Development Corporation was formed in 1996, the group leased space in the Pennsylvania Railroad Building, a 43,311-square-foot, six-story red brick structure fronting the Christina River in Wilmington.
Mike Purzycki, then RDC’s executive director, had an office facing a concrete operation and a failing restaurant. The Kalmar Nyckel, a replica of the boat that brought Swedish settlers to the city, was practically sinking.
“It was hard on the eyes,” acknowledged Purzycki, now Wilmington’s mayor. “It couldn’t have been a more inhospitable place.”
Things have changed. Purzycki stood before his old headquarters on May 26 to cut the ribbon on CSC Station, a co-working and innovation space in the renovated historic structure. Leafy trees swayed in the nearby Tubman-Garrett Park, and the tip of Bank’s Seafood Kitchen’s sign was just visible near the Riverfront Market.
As if on cue, the Kalmar Nyckel glided past the crowd before Rod Ward, CSC’s president and CEO, stepped up to the podium.
“It’s a true Delaware event,” said Ward, who leads the privately held organization that his ancestor, Christopher Ward, founded with Josiah Marvel in 1899. While Ward spoke, Amtrak trains pulled into the Joseph R. Biden Jr. Train Station.
Corporation Service Company — now a global leader in business, legal, tax and digital brand services — was once in the heart of downtown Wilmington. As the company expanded organically and through acquisitions, the headquarters moved to the suburbs. In 2017, the newly branded CSC moved into a 148,437-square-foot contemporary building on Little Falls Drive.
So why open CSC Station? “I believe that CSC is down [on the riverfront] as much because of Rod’s sense of responsibility to the community than anything else,” Purzycki said. “He decided he wanted to invest in the city. Thank you so very, very much.”
Like most co-working initiatives, CSC Station offers space of various sizes to individuals and companies without long-term agreements, said Scott Malfitano, CSC vice president, who oversaw the renovations. It is particularly appealing to business travelers who need access to the train station.
Although CSC delayed the ribbon-cutting due to the pandemic, there are already tenants in CSC Station, including CompassRed, a data analytics firm, and the Delaware Data Innovation Lab, a nonprofit that applies data and artificial intelligence to address COVID-19-related issues, such as the drop in college-aid applications. CSC plans to use the station for off-site think tank sessions — or “innovation.”
Like the Little Falls headquarters, CSC Station boasts a sleek, contemporary design and high-tech features. However, Malfitano and his team honored famed architect Frank Furness’s spirit. Elements clearly point to the building’s 1905 birth. As Ward put it, the goal was to “build back better.”
The fourth floor showcases the exposed original wood floors and a concrete slab that once cushioned the wheeled cart used for manufacturing. Industrial steel supports are visible, and ceiling ductwork is exposed. The refurbished ornate elevator cage is on display.
The first floor is home to the welcome center, a café and co-working open office space. The second floor has offices, co-working spaces and conference rooms. Amtrak security offices are on the third floor. The fourth floor, the focus of the attendees’ attention, holds a stylish conference center that can accommodate up to 50 people. Floors five and six are available for rent.
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer was impressed with the results. He quoted Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv since 1998, who said that transforming a city requires an investment in talent, technology and tolerance. Meyer added “transportation” to the “three Ts.”
“I think this building — this extraordinary building in design — is a hallmark to that,” Meyer said. “We cannot thank CSC and the city for coming together to make this happen.”