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MILFORD — After a quiet exploration of a deal this summer, the Milford City Council has bought more land to fuel its need for more commercial and industrial space.
[caption id="attachment_214779" align="aligncenter" width="876"] An aerial outline of the Fry Farm property. | PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MILFORD[/caption]
The city council recently approved the purchase of 182-acre land on the corner of Route 14 and Canterbury Road, which is owned by the Fry family for $6.38 million. The city plans on settling on the property by late November. After taking ownership, the city will move the Fry Farm through the rezoning process. The 182-acre parcel that has sat vacant for years, used only as a wheat field, is currently zoned a combination of R-3 (Garden Apartment and Townhouse) and C-3 (Highway Commercial). The property is planned to be rezoned I-1 (Limited Industrial), ostensibly more in line with its vision of growing industrial space.Milford Economic Development and Community Engagement Administrator Sara Pletcher previously told the Delaware Business Times the plan would be to market the land to manufacturers looking for 1,000 to 5,000 square feet of space.“Businesses are excited for this additional industrial zoning in Kent County and I have received several calls for large warehousing opportunities since the announcement,” Pletcher told the DBT in an email. “We just don’t have anywhere to currently accommodate their needs ...they’re eager to know more and stay informed as we move through this process.”The property is adjacent to the Milford Business Park, which has five lots available and is home to the city’s public works department, several medical offices, manufacturing companies, construction supply companies and various other businesses.Pletcher said that there are no specific plans at this time about the industrial building and its layout. Instead, city officials will wait for buyers to contact them for specific lot size needs and will build the infrastructure to suit it.“We don’t want to build out the whole property and then limit ourselves to the businesses we can attract to the property,” she added.The downside to the expansive property is that it lacks water, sewer and electrical service. The rough estimate for infrastructure costs is $10 million, and Milford officials plan to sell off the lots and lay the infrastructure with reserved funds, replenishing it with proceeds from each lot sale.Milford officials also greenlit buying 19 acres on South Rehoboth Boulevard from Herman Sharp III for $550,000. Once the agricultural lease is up on the land, the city plans to use this land for a park.“The city is growing and we need an industrial park,” Mayor Archie Campbell said in a prepared statement. “We also need open space. My vision is a park where we can build a playground, pickleball and tennis courts, soccer and softball fields.”Milford will pay for the land purchases from the city’s reserve funds to be paid back after the lots are sold in the industrial park and grants reimbursing the park.