Wegmans opens Wednesday at Barley Mill Plaza
WILMINGTON – The first Wegmans supermarket in Delaware will open its doors to the public at 9 a.m. Wednesday after months of its construction being under daily public scrutiny by passing traffic at the busy intersection of Lancaster Pike and Centre Road in Barley Mill Plaza on the northwest outskirts of Wilmington.
“We won’t have a ribbon cutting or any public ceremony,” store manager Jared Fedor said. “Typically, when a new Wegmans opens, we just do a small get-together with the employees a few minutes before opening the door to the public.”
The expansion into the state by the upscale Rochester, N.Y.-based chain, and its 109th overall, will encompass 84,000 square feet of space, including indoor and outdoor seating for 120 people at its food-services facilities; employ about 450 people and have 13 full-service checkouts and 15 self-checkout areas, with an additional five self-checkout registers in the Market Café.
After Wednesday’s midmorning debut, Wegmans will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight daily, with 557 parking spaces. (For those GPS dependent, its official location is 371 Buckley Mill Road in Wilmington.)
The opening will be especially gratifying to Pettinaro Management, which in October 2016 purchased the 56-acre former DuPont property from Stoltz Real Estate Partners, a Pennsylvania-based development firm that ran into public opposition in trying to redevelop the property, which was originally 92 acres.
“It took a little bit longer than we expected to open Wegmans,” said Greg Pettinaro, CEO of the namesake Newport development firm, about the cornerstone of the Barley Mill Plaza development plan, which also includes retail, office space and residential apartments and townhouses. “We have all but two stores and the pad site [ideally for banking] leased in the retail space; the townhouses are selling well, and the offices are being leased.”
After a transformational two years for the site, most of the Barley Mills construction will be finished in 2023, Pettinaro said.
When completed, the site will have 80 luxury flats or apartments and 33 townhomes, which are either finished and occupied or under construction by Montchanin Builders. The office building will have 105,000 square feet of space. Thus far, retail space has been retained by three restaurants – the already-opened First Watch and the yet-to-be-opened McGlynns Pub and La Tolteca. Additionally, major retail tenants include an urgent care center, physical therapy clinic and a nail salon.
“We have had a lot of interest in employment, and we hired a lot of great local employees,” Wegmans’ Fedor explained. “We only have about 20 job openings left, mainly part-time, but we are still looking to hire good people.”
The store will feature several areas that will have prepared foods that shoppers can enjoy in the Market Café’s seating areas, take home with them or order and have delivered by Instacart or DoorDash services used by Wegmans.
Previously, the nearest Wegmans for Delaware residents was on U.S. Route 202 in Glen Mills, Pa.
“Glen Mills is a bigger store – about 120,000 square feet to our 84,000, but it has a pharmacy, and it can sell beer and wine, which we can’t,” Fedor said, referring to state laws that prohibit alcohol sales in grocery stores.
Interest by local consumers has been high, according to Fedor.
“As you might have noticed, there are a lot of cars already in our parking lot as we have gotten ready to open, so we’ve had lots of people coming in to ask if we are open. We’ve had to have security people at the door to explain to them that we weren’t,” he noted.
Fedor declined to estimate how many shoppers he expects to line up on opening day or an average daily customer base.
Although already leased, most of Barley Mills shops are still being completed for occupancy and plan to be open by year’s end.
“The opening of Wegmans will be great for us,” said Katie Kutler, who has rented space for her business, Kaffé Karma. “I’ve been in business for several years, but this will be my first brick-and-mortar operation. It will be a coffee shop by day, and we will be doing yoga in the evenings.”
Pettinaro said he’s especially excited about the prospects for Barley Mills’ office space.
“I’m bullish on the suburban office place market,” he said. “Lots of lawyers and others want to be located in the Greenville area. And where else can you find 56 acres for multiple land use?”