NAI Coastal to market Seaford Nylon center project
Under the arrangement, NAI Coastal has started marketing between 60,000 and 80,000 square feet of the redeveloped shopping center, specifically the northern end facing Stein Highway. The developer already has anchor tenants, The Mill, Delaware Technical Community College and Bright Bloom, an early education Montessori school, signed up for the southern end of the property.
Principal Chris Davis and Associate Advisor Shelby Gillis will exclusively offer for lease all commercial availability within the redeveloped site.
“With this project, we’ve never jumped at the first prospect to come to us, whether it’s architects and construction management teams. It’s the same with our brokers,” 9th Street Development Company developer Rob Herrera said. “The reason why we landed with NAI Coastal is they’re local to the market and there’s a real strategy to that.”
NAI Coastal is the Delmarva Peninsula affiliate of NAI Global, a worldwide network of commercial real estate firms. Headquartered out of Salisbury, Md., the firm has been dealing in warehouse and retail space in Sussex County for years, and notably brokered the deal on Amazon’s Seaford warehouse at the end of 2022. Established in 2019, the brokerage firm works in partnership with Gillis Gilkerson to capitalize on the rising growth in the Delmarva region.
Both Davis and Gillis lobbied to work with 9th Street Development Company within weeks of the first announcement of the redevelopment project in Seaford. Back in December 2022, Herrera announced that his firm would be reviving the almost-empty shopping center with a $5.4 million grant from Seaford and state funding.
“When they first put out that press release, we started talking from there. After we met up in February, we just continued to stay in touch,” Gillis said. “I think part of what made it work was our bond to the area. Chris and I both are locals, and we have strong ties here. We’re able to help local businesses and show them there’s an opportunity in Seaford for this redevelopment.”
With NAI Coastal’s reach on national platforms, the firm also has the ability to tap into national chains. But notably, Herrera and his company are also taking cues from the community in what they want to see come or stay in Seaford. He confirmed that Rite Aid has renewed its lease for 15 years. The Dollar Tree and Sal’s Italian Pizza would stay, and neighbors want to see a bowling alley return to the space. Herrera has interviewed several prospective tenants for the spot.
“We do need a balance, and I don’t think I would be happy if there was only chain retail here. It’s not the right fit,” Herrera said. “This is a project very much inspired by the community. It wouldn’t send the right message of not having a single local community vendor.”
Davis noted that NAI Coastal has relationships with the local business leaders in Sussex County and Maryland lower shore, from the health care sector to recreational and restaurant concepts from the beach.
“What we typically try to do is quietly secure big users so we have commitments in and then you build the community around that and we can backfill the entertainment components,” Davis said. “Now that that’s done, we’re in a position to help pick and choose what’s in the smaller spots. We’re reaching out to restaurants along the beach, breweries and ice cream shops as well.”
Seaford is one of the major towns in western Sussex County, but with 8,500 people it’s still a rural area. But Davis added that with other towns, Sussex’s development continuing to push west and 45-minute drive from Cambridge, Easton, and Salisbury in Maryland, that market can hit up to 250,000 people.
“With the cost-of-living on the east end, people are living on the western side of Sussex County – and there’s still a pretty big service component Seaford serves,” Davis said. “I do think there is a void in the western side for entertainment, health care, education and more. We think this will be an exciting project.”
As for 9th Street Development Company, Herrera said there’s already been a lot of retail interest in the Nylon Capital Shopping Center even before the demolition has properly started.
“It’s mostly word of mouth at this point, and I’ve been blown away with the response. We’re actually in a place we can afford to be a little picky, as crazy as that sounds,” he said.