WILMINGTON – Just two years after acquiring former Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD) dorms and converting them into market-rate apartments, a New Jersey-based real estate investment and management […]
[caption id="attachment_231481" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] A $2 million renovation of the courtyard between the former Nemours and Brandywine buildings will bring new after-hours life to the space. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BPG[/caption]
WILMINGTON – More than 20 years after acquiring the vast office buildings of downtown Wilmington that once housed thousands of DuPont workers, Buccini/Pollin Group is reimaging the area as its new Market West campus.The mixed-use campus includes the DuPont, Nemours and Brandywine buildings along with the CityCenter and ParkBPG parking garages. Today, there are 553 apartments, several restaurants, two theaters, a hotel, a food hall, a coffee shop, retail shops, a cowork space, and 1 million square feet of offices in the three-building stretch.Chris Buccini, co-president of the firm and lead of its commercial real estate management arm, said the total investment in the entire campus has exceeded $500 million, making it the biggest project BPG has ever tackled and likely marked the largest mixed-use redevelopment project Delaware has ever seen.
[caption id="attachment_227062" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Buccini/Pollin Group are taking nearly 300,000 square feet of offices off the market in a conversion to apartments. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
To shed the past from the site and reorient it toward a mixed-use future where apartments will be as plentiful as office space, BPG is renaming the Nemours Building to Market West and the Brandywine Building to 1000 N West. Recognizing the history and connection of the DuPont name to the area, however, it will retain the DuPont Building name.Overall, BPG hopes that residents and workers begin to refer to Market West in the same way that areas like Trolley Square, the Riverfront and Market Street all have immediate recognition in the city.“We don't want people thinking, ‘Oh, I'm just moving into the Brandywine Building.’ We want them to feel like they're moving into Market West – that they're part of something bigger,” Buccini told Delaware Business Times. “When we first acquired the Nemours building [in 1999], there was no market-rate housing in downtown Wilmington. Now, what we've done is created this district that we want to be like one micro-market within the central business district.”The focal point of Market West will be a rejuvenated former Nemours Building, where BPG is investing $150 million to redevelop its 450,000 square feet of office space, 16,000 square feet of existing retail, and 85 former extended-stay furnished apartments. The project will reduce the office space to 150,000 square feet and repurpose the historic building into 355 luxury apartments, expand The Mill co-working space to 75,000 square feet, introduce a new upscale restaurant, and transform the 17,000-square-foot outdoor plaza connecting the former Nemours and Brandywine buildings.
[caption id="attachment_231479" align="alignright" width="300"] The Standard, a new apartment community in the former Nemours building, will feature high-end finishes. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BPG[/caption]
“We want these buildings to be the future of Delaware,” he said.In furthering its investment to bring residents downtown, the new Market West apartments will be known as The Standard – a reference to “setting a new standard” for apartments in the city, Buccini said. It will offer studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments with high-end finishes like continuous quartz countertops and backsplashes, herringbone tile bathroom flooring, and two-tone upper and lower kitchen cabinets. Penthouse lofts will boast interior spiral staircases separating the living spaces, private balcony access, and kitchen upgrades such as French door refrigerators and built-in wine and beverage fridges.
[caption id="attachment_231480" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Market West building will feature a new rooftop patio that will give wide views of downtown Wilmington. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BPG[/caption]
“These are not your father's DuPont building offices. These are best-in-class projects no matter what city in the world you go to,” Buccini said. “These will be even more upscale than those in [101 dupont].”The Standard will be delivered in phases with the first 92 units available beginning July 1 for move-ins.Meanwhile, the new restaurant to open adjacent to DE.CO is still under development, said Buccini, who said they haven’t signed a partnering restaurateur yet but added that the concept would feature a “unique twist.”The $2 million renovation of the outdoor stone plaza to a greener space to be utilized outside work hours is also set to begin this summer.Part of what has made the Market West concept viable is the commitment by corporate tenants in the buildings downtown. Buccini noted that three law firms are set to move into the former Brandywine Building in the next month, and two more potential tenants are nearing leases – that would bring tenancy of the building to about 95% at a time when many offices are being vacated.“Whoever said that the world of offices is dead is just wrong. It's just that people are rethinking the way they work, and they want to be in a place that's highly amenitized,” he said.