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Transportation investment board recommends $7.7M in projects

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Community Development Company’s First State Crossing development project of the former Evraz steel mill in Claymont was one of the recommended recipients for a Delaware TIIF grant. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CDC

DOVER – The Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund (TIIF) Council has recommended its second six recipients for $7.7 million in grant funds, primarily for projects that have already been announced or are under construction.

The fund was established to provide economic assistance for renovation, construction, or any other type of improvements to roads and related transportation infrastructure in order to attract new businesses to this state or expand existing in-state businesses. It was spearheaded by Gov. John Carney in his fiscal year 2020 budget, which earmarked $5 million from the state’s general fund and $5 million from the Delaware Department of Transportation’s Trust Fund for the initiative. Notably, the TIIF program was supported for another $10 million in the state’s FY 2021 budget despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on anticipated revenues.

The fund is managed by the nine-member TIIF Council, which consists of seven appointments made by the governor and two state legislators. The council, chaired by Joe Westcott, market president for Capital One, considers applications and makes funding recommendations to Delaware’s Transportation Secretary and the Secretary of State. The board recommended approval of all six proposals at their Jan. 26 meeting.

Damian DeStefano, the director of the state Division of Small Business, whose office vets the financial analysis of the applicants, noted that the TIIF program does not hold applicants to job creation, but only asks them to provide projections for a project’s impact.

“If this were a Strategic Fund grant, the money would flow directly to the company and they’re then responsible for creating the jobs. In this case, there is a grant, but they’re not necessarily realizing this as cash in hand,” he said at the January meeting. “I think that is a key difference.”

The D2 Organization is proposing to build more than 1 million square feet of warehousing near Glasgow High School at a property that W. L. Gore once envisioned for a new headquarters. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

The largest recommended allocation would go to the D2 Organization, a real estate development and investment firm headquartered in Philadelphia with a satellite office in Claymont, that is proposing to build a distribution park in Glasgow.

The $92 million project, called Glasgow Commons, is sited on 149 acres near the intersection of Old Cooch’s Bridge Road and Route 896 near Glasgow High School and the Four Seasons shopping center. The more than 1 million square feet of development is proposed to yield about 182 jobs, according to their application.

The nearly $4.5 million grant would fund turn lane improvements off Route 896 at Old Cooch’s Bridge Road and GBC Drive as well as road widening on the smaller roads to accommodate additional traffic at the site.

The second largest recommended recipient is Whitehall Ventures LLC, a partnership between EDiS Company and Eastern States Group that is building the Whitehall community north of Middletown. The $1.1 million grant would upgrade Lorewood Grove Road to improve access to a 20,000-square-foot medical arts facility and 75-unit senior living center in the community. The application estimated that it could create 47 new jobs.

Hercules Building

The Hercules Building in downtown Wilmington | DBT PHOTO BY MIKE ROCHELEAU

The third largest recipient would be The McConnell Companies, the real estate investment firm that owns the Hercules Building in downtown Wilmington.

The $825,000 grant would add streetscaping, walkability and multimodal connections around the building as part of the firm’s planned $50 million project to enhance its tenant attraction. McConnell reported that the project could add 1,000 jobs to the Hercules Building’s existing 1,800 employees.

Other recommended recipients include:

  •  The city of Seaford, which would receive more than $750,000 to develop a new 11-lot business park on Herring Run Road. The grant would fund road improvements on Herring Run Road and Ross Station Road, while also creating a new bus stop. The city believes the project could create up to 1,100 new jobs.
  • Community Development Company Inc. (CDC), the owner and developer of the 384- acre First State Crossing project at the former Evraz steel mill in Claymont, which would receive about $395,000. The grant would fund upgrades to Philadelphia Pike near the site. CDC estimates that First State Crossing could create upward of 4,630 jobs when fully built out.
  • M&E Properties LLC, the developer of the Mauric Events Pavilion and O’Madden’s Fitness and Health center located off U.S. Route 113 south of Dagsboro, which would receive $225,000. The grant would fund mitigation of drainage issues and a slope near the entrance of the $1.5 million project, which is estimated to create eight new jobs.

Notably, M&E Properties, a joint venture by Margareth Legaspi and Eric Madden, was turned down for the same project in the only denied application of last year’s inaugural funding round. They amended their traffic plan to satisfy state officials before this year’s application round.

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