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Morris James to leave Wilmington for Avenue North

Katie Tabeling

The Tower at Avenue North will feature 100,000 square feet of new Class A office space in Wilmington’s suburbs. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DELLE DONNE & ASSOCIATES

WILMINGTON — Delle Donne & Associates has leased out six floors at the $42 million Tower at Avenue North to Morris James, securing a major law firm for at least half of the Class A office space.

It also means that the 12-story tower is now three-fourths leased including plans by DDA to move into the facility over time. Morris James, which touts well-established services throughout Delaware, signed a 15-year lease for the Avenue North location and will move in throughout 2025. Morris James will maintain a satellite office in downtown Wilmington’s business district regardless of the move.

DDA anticipates the Tower at Avenue North to be fully leased out by this summer.

“I am honored to welcome the prestigious law firm Morris James into the Avenue North Tower. Morris James’ appreciation of not only the Tower, but also the entire Avenue North development fostered the beginning of a prosperous and long-term relationship,” DDA Chairman CEO Ernest “Ernie” Delle Donne said.

Morris James, a firm that specializes in corporate and commercial litigation, has long been a presence in downtown Wilmington for years. The law firm employs roughly 160 people, which includes 70 attorneys, according to Delaware Business Times records. Morris James also has a physical presence in five locations in the First State, including Dover, Newark, Georgetown, Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington.

By moving its Wilmington headquarters just miles up the road to the Fairfax area, Morris James will be relocating a sizable number of employees out of the state’s largest city and into a rising new campus.

Avenue North is an ambitious reimagining of the former AstraZeneca campus in the Fairfax community, bought for $50 million in 2017. DDA had planned a 1.8 million square-foot mixture of office, retail and apartment housing to breathe new life in the property.

Once AstraZeneca moved its staff to its current office, DDA had struck a deal for a corporate office for ChristianaCare and Solenis on the existing 850,000 square feet of space. Solenis has since announced it would build a second, new center at Chestnut Run Innovation & Science Park.

The Tower at Avenue North was designed to be the linchpin of the commercial and residential development, with a glass-covered premiere office space targeted for tenants like architectural, law and financial service firms. 

With Morris James set to occupy 43,000 square feet of space at the Tower, it also marks a downsizing of space. Earlier this year, the law firm announced it was consolidating its downtown Wilmington and Broom Street in the Hilltop neighborhood.

Morris James officials were not available for comment, but a press announcement on the law firm’s website noted that the move “ signifies our dedication to honoring our storied history while advancing toward a future of excellence and sustainability.” It also opened a path for growth of the firm while also maintaining a hybrid work environment.

DDA plans on building 360 apartments in phases, as well as opening other amenities on the site.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that Morris James will maintain a satellite office in downtown Wilmington.

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