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Developer seeks to build two huge warehouses near New Castle

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Stoltz Real Estate Partners plans on building a more than 1 million-square-foot warehouse off Churchmans Road, but a tenant has not yet been found, according to the company. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NCC

NEW CASTLE – A Pennsylvania-based developer is seeking to build two 1 million-square-foot-plus warehouses, continuing a boom in distribution space in northern Delaware, according to plans submitted to New Castle County.

Keith Stoltz, of Bala Cynwyd-based Stoltz Real Estate Partners, is seeking to build a roughly 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse off Churchmans Road, adjoining the New Castle County Airport, as well as a roughly 1.3 million-square-foot warehouse off Hamburg Road to the south. With proposed sizes of more than 1 million square feet, the facilities would be among the largest warehouses in Delaware.

When reached by Delaware Business Times on Tuesday, Stoltz declined to discuss the projects.

In a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the New Castle County’s Land Use Committee, representatives for the Churchmans Road project said that no tenant had signed to lease the building nor was a buyer lined up for when the project was completed.

Shawn Tucker, legal counsel for Stoltz’s limited liability corporation Churchmans 273 LLC, said that they estimated the project could create upward of 800 jobs, based on a comparatively sized warehouse at the Delaware City Logistics Parks being built by Northpoint Development.

“It is optimistic that it will be able to [be leased or sold] in the future. There are certainly discussions with different folks about accomplishing that but currently there is nothing in writing, and there’s no agreement, verbal or written regarding a tenant, or a buyer for this property,” Tucker said.

Stoltz Real Estate Partners plans to turn this former gravel pit near the New Castle Airport into an enormous warehouse. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NCC

Stoltz purchased the roughly 59-acre parcel near the intersection of Route 273 and U.S. Route 13 for an estimated $6.9 million in 2012 from Parkway Gravel Inc., the real estate subsidiary of the New Castle-based construction firm Greggo & Ferrara. It has been trying to develop the land ever since.

The project has shifted in concept in recent years, after a failed attempt to develop the former gravel pit into a retail site anchored by Walmart. That project was scuttled by then-County Executive Tom Gordon, who pulled support for a state grant connected to the project in 2013 after learning of Walmart’s involvement, saying it would hurt “mom-and-pop” businesses.

It was the second retail project foiled for Stoltz in New Castle County, after public opposition over many years halted plans for redevelopment of the Barley Mill plaza. The developer reportedly lost $42 million in the sale of that land to Pettinaro and Odyssey Charter School in 2015.

With distribution now in demand, as evidenced by Amazon’s leasing of a 3.8 million-square-foot facility under construction at the former General Motors Boxwood plant in Newport, Stoltz turned its attention to a new focus. The Churchmans Road project measures 653,000 square feet on its ground floor, with the remaining space found in a mezzanine. It will feature 615 employee parking spaces, 267 tractor-trailer parking spots and 121 loading docks.

The former UPS service center and part of the Parkway Gravel pit would be developed into a huge distribution center under a new proposal. | MAP COURTESY OF GOOGLE

Meanwhile, about 3 miles to the south, Stoltz and Parkway Gravel are working on another facility. According to plans filed with the state in April, the facility would be a “non-sort” facility anticipated to be completed by 2021. It’s unclear whether the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed progress on the facility and potentially delayed that timeline.

To accommodate the sheer size of the distribution center, Parkway Gravel, the property’s owner, plans to utilize two parcels totaling about 125 acres to the east of Route 13 and north of Hamburg Road.

The former UPS customer service center at 765 Hamburg Road as well as the former Blue Diamond Park amusement park would reportedly be razed under the development plan, which would build a warehouse with a roughly 1.1 million-square-foot footprint and a roughly 250,000-square-foot mezzanine.

While it’s not yet known whether a tenant has signed on for that project, a UPS spokeswoman confirmed to DBT that the company is not involved. UPS opened its new 86,000-square-foot sortation facility near the proposed Stoltz warehouse in August.

Neither the Churchmans Road nor Hamburg Road project is reportedly seeking a rezoning, helping to smooth the permitting path from any potential opposition. A traffic study at Churchmans Road estimated a nearly 60% reduction in average daily traffic from the proposed warehouse compared to the prior retail development proposal. Tucker said that Stoltz plans to spend more than $1 million in road improvements there as well.

By Jacob Owens

[email protected]

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