[caption id="attachment_214561" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Greggo & Ferrara are proposing to build an 814-unit development near the Route 1 off-ramp seen here north of Middletown called Port St. Georges. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
MIDDLETOWN – A new project aims to bring another large planned-unit development to the Middletown area near a popular Route 1 exit ramp.Greggo & Ferrara, a multi-faceted construction, real estate and development firm based in New Castle, is proposing to build Port St. George’s on 184 acres off Lorewood Grove Road, just to the east of a similar, albeit far larger, development, Town of Whitehall. The project would span the north and south sides of the two-lane rural road, and, if approved, be one of the largest housing projects underway in New Castle County.
[caption id="attachment_214562" align="alignright" width="197"] The residential units would span both sides of Lorewood Grove Road with commercial space fronting the rural road. | MAP COURTESY OF NCC[/caption]
Port St. George’s would include 814 residential units mixed across single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes, and apartments, as well as a clubhouse and small parks around the community. The project also includes 75,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space that fronts Lorewood Grove Road, and possibly even a grocery store.“That is an amenity, when we held a community meeting back in February, that a lot of the community wanted us to pursue,” Michael Hoffman, the developers’ land use counsel from Tarabicos, Grosso & Hoffman, LLP, told state Preliminary Land Use Services officials last month.Port St. George’s would be at least the third “hamlet” type development between Middletown and the C&D Canal, along with the EDiS-led Whitehall and the Blenheim Homes-led Bayberry just to the south off Boyds Corner Road. Under the county development codes, hamlets are developed as communities unto themselves, with a heavy focus on walkability, mixed commercial and residential use, and recreational features.“These are higher-density communities that require setting aside conventional assumptions associated with traditional residential neighborhood design,” Hoffman explained.Unique to Port St. George’s is its proposal to turn the stretch of Lorewood Grove Road through the community into its “Main Street,” complete with brick streets and traffic calming features, according to plans presented at the PLUS hearing. A traffic circle would replace the stop sign at the bottom of the Route 1 exit ramp under the developers’ plans.
[caption id="attachment_214560" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The developer is hoping to turn a stretch of Lorewood Grove Road into the community's pseudo-Main Street through design elements. | MAP COURTESY OF STATE OF DELAWARE[/caption]
Hoffman noted that in recent years he has taken industry bus trips to hamlet-designed communities around the country to examine those that work well. A Main Street transition in the community is an exciting feature when possible, he said.“One of the key themes we've heard is that when you're able to control both sides of a road coming into the [traditional neighborhood design], it’s the unicorn situation. It really creates an opportunity to have a robust, thriving community,” Hoffman added.The developers and the Delaware Department of Transportation have been negotiating whether the project and the “Main Street” design would create an uptick in traffic that would necessitate widening the road. Hoffman said they believe the road design would incentivize those seeking to use Lorewood Grove Road as a throughway to instead continue to travel down the U.S. Route 301 byway.In any case, Greggo & Ferrara are building a wider stretch of road through the area in case it is determined to be necessary, Hoffman added.While the land is already zoned suburban (S) in the county, clearing the largest hurdle for development, it does have a variety of planning phase challenges to address, according to PLUS officials.