By Kathy Canavan
An ordinance to rezone the old Bancroft Mills site off Riddle Avenue in Wilmington will come before the city council Sept. 15. On Wednesday, the council’s finance committee discussed the rezoning, which brings the tract in line with the city’s 2007 comprehensive plan.
The Bancroft Mills site sits at the end of Riddle Avenue, past houses in the $280,000 to $512,000 range, on a C-shaped lot overlooking the Brandywine Creek. The tract backs to the fieldstone houses off Foster Place and Field Road, just south of the Delaware Art Museum.
The proposed zoning was considered more compatible with the immediate area, when the city’s comprehensive plan was passed in 2007. But the city did not rezone it because it was under development by Brandywine Partners LLC. The partnership originally planned 1,500 units, although that number was eventually whittled. The project was never completed.
The Buccini/Pollin Group acquired the property in March of 2015, under its Rockford Falls Partners LLC. The company is willing to build its new project, known as Rockford Falls, under the new zoning.
The rezoning would switch the area closest to the creek from C-6 special commercial zoning, which allowed for intense commercial uses, to W-4 residential - commercial zoning, which allows waterfront residential and commercial area with medium-to-high-density residential, retail and office development.
The higher-elevation area closer to existing homes would switch from C-6 to R-3, where one-family row houses in groups of three or more are allowed. A subdivision plan has been approved for 32 units on the upper parcel – 10 triple homes and 1 duplex. Height of the townhouses would be limited to three stories, compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.
Because Riddle Avenue, a narrow street, will revert to enforced one-side-of-the-street parking to allow traffic and emergency vehicles, Buccini /Pollin has agreed to build a 15-space parking lot on the land closest to Riddle Avenue to accommodate cars which now park on both sides of the road.
Michael J. Hare, senior vice president of development for Buccini/Pollin, said the company will construct their lower buildings on the existing Bancroft Mills foundation and will be mindful of the responsibility of building close to the source of the city’s drinking water.