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Seaford shopping center, workforce hub breaks ground

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Delaware Governor John Carney

Delaware’s Governor John Carney speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony at Nylon Capital Shopping Center in Seaford Thursday, April 25./DBT PHOTO BY JENNIFER ANTONIK

The Nylon Capital Shopping Center in Seaford was once the “crown jewel of shopping on the East Coast,” according to Governor John Carney, complete with top-of-the-line stores, a pool and a nearby Little League Park.

However, years of decline have seen tenants leave the 243,000-square-foot space property and draw the structure down in further disarray. But now 9th Street Development Company is ready to build a new future for the shopping center on Stein Highway.

Community leaders gathered on Thursday to take a stand and celebrate the groundbreaking $60 million redevelopment of the property in what could be considered a homecoming for many of them.

Developer Rob Herrera and Penny Short from TIdalHealth

Penny Short from TIdalHealth talks about her connection to Seaford’s Nylon Capital Shopping Center during the groundbreaking ceremony as Developer Rob Herrera looks on from behind./DBT PHOTO BY JENNIFER ANTONIK

“I certainly have a passion for this community. This, like many, was my stomping grounds – swimming, ball and yes, I am old enough to remember all of the shopping that was here. But, I also raised my family across the street. So, I watched the decline of this area and it was sad,” TidalHealth Nanticoke Senior Vice President and President Penny Short said during the ceremony.

For TidalHealth and for her personally, she added, participating in the project by expanding their services to the site was “an absolute yes.”

“We’ve been a part of the community for 70 years and continue to want this area to prosper. So, to be a part of the rebirth and the economic growth of this area, it was no other decision except yes,” Short said.

TidalHealth will join several other “anchor” businesses, including Delaware Technical Community College, bringing increased health care and workforce development options to Sussex County, developer Rob Herrera of 9th Street Development Company explained.

The Mill, BrightBloom Centers, Community Bank and Vanderwende’s Ice Cream are also slated for the shopping center along with hopes of retaining current occupants such as Sal’s Italian Restaurant.

The project has received $3.1 million of taxpayer funding from the City of Seaford, as well as $20 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) and at least $2 million from the state toward those redevelopment costs. Herrera previously projected that construction would create about 320 short-term jobs and dozens more long-term jobs in higher education, small business, nonprofit, health care, childcare and retail industries attracted to the site.

Like other community leaders present during the groundbreaking ceremony, Seaford’s outgoing mayor David Genshaw said the redevelopment is not only needed but will make an incredible impact on the community.

“The first thing I thought of when I drove up here today, and I hate to even admit it out loud, was, ‘Boy, does this place look awful.’ And I’m glad we’re here to see something happen,” he said.  

Delaware Human Resources Secretary Claire DeMatteis was honored several times during the ceremony by Carney, Herrera and others as being a critical player who helped set in motion various pieces of the puzzle.

“I was here 35 years ago when it was thriving,” DeMatteis told the Delaware Business Times. “What a tragedy it has become. But now, we’re going to turn an eyesore into a thriving city center with jobs. It’s a happy day.”

Convincing the previous owner to sell the property and finding a new buyer was the hardest part of the process so far, she added.

“But he saw something in Herrera,” DeMatteis told DBT. “This community needs additional healthcare resources and workforce development opportunities. This is about jobs, pride, economic development and a community center.”

Nylon Capital Shopping Center in Seaford

Leaders break ground at Nylon Capital Shopping Center in Seaford./DBT PHOTO BY JENNIFER ANTONIK

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