[caption id="attachment_206532" align="aligncenter" width="1079"] The Western Sussex Business Campus is envisioned to have at least 9 buildings and represents a total investment of $8 million. | PHOTO COURTESY THE CITY OF SEAFORD[/caption]
SEAFORD — The previously undisclosed buyer of half of the future Western Sussex Business Campus is KRM Development Corp., a full-service development company that specializes in speculative building, and they are spending a little over half a million to buy into Seaford.Under a proposed sale agreement, KRM Development will buy four parcels on 44 acres of land in the rising business park for $536,760 — about $12,000 per acre — from Seaford. KRM would have the first right of refusal to buy the remaining parcels.If the deal is signed, KRM Development will be contractually required to build at least one 50,000-square-foot spec building within 18 months.“KRM is a fabulous company and I have always been impressed with their work and hopefully the council will approve this deal,” Seaford Mayor David Genshaw told the Delaware Business Times. “We believe this will accelerate the velocity of Seaford’s growth and attract businesses to western Sussex County.”KRM Development, the real estate arm of Dixon Group, based in Chestertown, Md., has investments in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, but most of its investments have been focused on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Last fall, the company broke ground on one of its first Delaware investments: Duck Creek Business Campus in Smyrna.In the last year, KRM Development has reportedly shown interest in Seaford but a lack of infrastructure was the biggest hurdle for prospective tenants. The proposed $7 million Western Sussex Business Campus is raw farmland, with no sewer or water access or roads. KRM Development offered to buy the land in August in exchange for the city laying infrastructure to get the site shovel-ready. Seaford then inked a deal with the Sussex County Council to jointly spend $1.88 million on the first phase of infrastructure. The second and third phase of infrastructure is estimated at $2.1 million and $2.9 million, respectively.Seaford has also been recommended for a $750,000 Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund (TIIF) grant that would fund road access improvements to the business park. The project is estimated to bring up to 1,100 jobs when fully built out, according to the grant application.While Genshaw said he would be pleased to see KRM buy the entire land, he agreed to hold back half of the 100 acres just in case more interest was spurred.“The hope is that KRM develops their half quickly, and if there’s another prospect out there looking for a specific build, we have the space for them to develop,” he said. “Either way, I do think the pandemic has really inspired this interest in the Eastern Shore. We have more space to accommodate and we can have affordable prices if we just have the inventory.”He pointed to Showtime Power Sports, an online motorcycle parts distributor, that bought the final piece of Allen Harim’s Seaford headquarters as a prime example. Genshaw said the owner has long had a second property in Dagsboro that he enjoyed, and eventually he was inspired to relocate his work so he could be there year-round.“Unfortunately, that was the only space left. But that really shows that the will is there, if we have the space for business,” Genshaw said.The future Western Sussex Business Campus signals a hopeful renaissance for Seaford, which was crippled when DuPont left behind its nylon manufacturing operations in 2004. In the early stages of DuPont’s downsizing, Seaford officials started buying land directly in a bid to entice developers to buy land at low prices, including the 243 acres out of which the future business campus would be carved.“That land has been something priests have prayed over as farmers farm it, and we hopefully will honor that with this agreement, with the support of the state and county government,” Genshaw said.KRM representatives were not immediately available to respond to Delaware Business Times’ request for comment.