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RDC aims focus on Riverfront East with bond request

Katie Tabeling
Megan McGlinchey, executive director of the RDC, unveils plans for phase one  of Riverfront East on Friday. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENSMay 2021

Megan McGlinchey, executive director of the RDC, unveils plans for phase one of Riverfront East in May 2021. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

DOVER — The Riverfront Development Corporation is seeking to continue steady progress on its sweeping Riverfront East redevelopment project, and is seeking $10.5 million in capital funding from the legislature to do it.

“As we enter the 27th year of operations, the RDC has never felt better about the progress we’ve made along the Riverfront and the results that we’ve achieved for the state,” RDC Executive Director Megan McGlinchey said. “We’re proud of how far we’ve come and look forward to even more exciting results in our future.”

McGlinchey spoke before the state legislature’s Joint Capital Improvement Committee on March 22. This committee hears capital budget requests from various agencies as they mull over the final budget and bond bills to ultimately send to the full legislature. 

Gov. John Carney has allocated $6.5 million in his proposed bond bill to the RDC, a public-private partnership devoted to reviving Wilmington’s waterfront. 

Chief among the RDC’s requests was $4 million for its $100 million, years-long plan to revive the “other side” of the Christina River: Riverfront East. The entire project covers 86 acres of the South Market Street corridor that borders the Southbridge community. 

In all, Riverfront East is planned to include 1.9 million square feet of office space, over 4,000 residential units, 350,000 square feet of retail space, almost 9,000 structured parking spaces and 650 on-street parking spaces. It will also have more than 13 acres of open space and common areas for recreation and entertainment.

“This is our big project, our ambitious project. For the past two years, we’ve been focused on acquiring property within all areas, designing the infrastructure improvements in one area specifically,” McGlinchey said.

That area covers the riverbank to South Market Street and from A Street to South Second Street. Improvements slated include: new road network, a section of the Riverwalk, a dedicated bike lane, a signalized intersection at Eighth Street and utility relocation. The entire cost is estimated at $30 million, and the Delaware Department of Transportation has allocated funding for some road projects. 

The RDC hopes to begin construction on Riverfront East in 2023. About 80% of the property in phase one has been bought by the RDC at this point.

Another key project in Riverfront East includes a central green, a 2-acre park in the middle of phase one. McGlinchey said a portion of the requested $10.5 million would help pay for design work of this park.

The RDC is also seeking $1 million for Riverfront West, or the existing side of the Riverfront that the organization has successfully focused its efforts on for a quarter of a century.

Among other requests include $500,000 for the Frawley Stadium, which the RDC took over operations in September 2022. Since then, the RDC has overseen the second phase of renovations to bring the player areas up to current minor league baseball standards – paid through roughly $1 million from two previous bond bills.

McGlinchey also highlighted key projects on the horizon for the RDC, like the Luxor and Riverhouse apartments. Luxor will bring 193 upscale apartment units to market in the third phase of Riverfront East, built by Westrum Development Company of Pennsylvania. Riverhouse is a 300-unit complex built by Washington Place Equities of Maryland, and is planned to open this fall.

Another mixed-use development project is in the works for Beech Street, headed by Big Fish Restaurant Group and Pennsylvania-based Onix Group. The building will include two ground-floor restaurants and 216 apartments, projected to be completed by late 2024.

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