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Baltimore developer to build 150-unit Riverfront complex

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WILMINGTON – The Riverfront building boom is continuing with a new player, as a Baltimore-based development company announced plans Tuesday, Dec. 17, to build a 150-unit apartment complex near the Walnut Street Bridge.

Washington Place Equities (WPE), a development, ownership and management firm, acquired several parcels running from 301 to 401 A St. in South Wilmington from Southbank Associates LLC, an affiliate of Hunter Lott Realty. No sale price was announced, but a review of county land records estimates a sale of $3.4 million.

Founded in 2013, WPE is focused on multi-family residential projects and has mainly developed apartment complexes in its home city of Baltimore, but has also built a townhome community in York, Pennsylvania. 

WPE will first develop a roughly 2-acre vacant lot at 401 A St. to build a 150-unit, mid-rise apartment complex overlooking the Christina River named River House. The project is anticipated to cost upward of $35 million, according to officials. The land sits just down the road from the Christina Landing community, owned by Buccini/Pollin Group, that features hundreds of apartments and townhomes.

The 300 block, encompassing nearly 3 acres, is currently home to about 41,000 square feet of office and industrial space that houses Final Focus Photography, Fresenius Kidney Care Center, Heritage Concrete, and more. WPE said that land would be available for future expansion of the residential project if the first phase is successful.

Dominic Wiker, vice president and director of development at WPE, told Delaware Business Times that the River House project was part of a decision to expand the company’s geographic footprint.

“Wilmington was right at the top of our list,” he said, noting the company looked at about a dozen sites around the city. “We really felt like the city had a pretty strong sense of itself.”

This area was purchased by a Baltimore development firm for a new South Wilmington apartment complex. | DBT/GOOGLE MAP

The location of the new project sits amidst renewed development in South Wilmington, including the 76ers Fieldhouse opened last year, and across the street from the offices of the marketing and analytics firm OneMagnify. It is also just across the river from the Wilmington rail station served by SEPTA and Amtrak, which could make it appealing to those who work in Philadelphia or other areas.

The city continues to see increased interest in residential development, with much of the concentration coming in a roughly 1-mile radius of the train station, especially along areas like Market Street. Buccini/Pollin Group, the city’s largest landowner and most prolific developer, recently broke ground on its latest 92-unit project, The Cooper, about half a mile from WPE’s planned project.

“We’re an extension of some of the work that has been going on around the Riverfront,” Wiker told DBT, explaining that they’ve done their homework on the revitalization efforts underway in the city. “We met with senior folks at Buccini/Pollin Group and they couldn’t be more welcoming.”

Notably, the WPE project sits within Wilmington’s Opportunity Zone, a federal program enacted by the Trump administration that substantially lowers taxes on capital gains in exchange for investment in qualified projects for up to a decade, if retained.

Wilmington boutique real estate firm Wye Realty Advisors represented Southbank in both its mortgage restructuring and the sale of the properties.

Wilmington brokerage firm Deaton McCue and Co. procured the purchaser in the transaction. The future apartment community will be managed by WPM Real Estate Management, an arm of WPE’s parent company. 

By Jacob Owens

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