The Wilmington Riverfront has been an ongoing revitalization project that has included many players over the years and brought the city hits, like the Daniel S. Frawley Stadium, as well as misses, like the Shipyard Shops (which today are are mainly workspaces and a Planet Fitness).
And there’s more to come — but Wilmington isn’t the only place in Delaware with a developing riverfront area, and the jobs, housing and business opportunities that come with it.
Delaware City is about a half-hour drive south from Wilmington, just by C&D Canal in New Castle County. It’s a small waterfront town that sits on the Delaware River, more quaint than the sprawling suburbs that surround Wilmington and Newark, and less pretentious than a college town.
Fort DuPont, a historic 400-acre park in that officially became part of Delaware City in 2016, was established by the General Assembly in 2014 as a quasi-public corporation that would take ownership to the property and be responsible for its redevelopment and preservation.
“We’re the future of Delaware City in terms of development growth area,” said Jeffrey Randol, executive director of the Fort DuPont Redevelopment & Preservation Corporation. “We are developing a site that will consist of over 500 residential units, we’ve got a 100-room hotel planned, we’ve got a marina planned.”
Commercial space, too.
“We also have an economic development component that is working to bring businesses onto the site create jobs,” said Randol. “We’re looking for professional, service, commercial, retail — the ones that fit into the destination category. We’re in the Coastal Byways Zone, so this is not a site where we would be bringing in heavy industry. A little bit of light industry, but mostly commercial.”
Fort DuPont, a Civil War post established by Union soldiers in 1863, was named after Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont. As a historical landmark, it has over 40 historic buildings on site, several of which have been restored.
“Many of them are residential units, and we’re now starting on the commercial,” Randol said. “We’re dedicating over 100 acres to open space for a park, and that area will be upgrading with shelters and more trails, and we’re also looking at an elevated bike path that serves recreation, but is also a levy to protect the site from flooding.”
The ultimate goal, according to Randol, is to create community that also attracts tourists and day trippers from the area looking for recreation and entertainment, such as the summer Fortify Music Fest, which encourages festival goers to stay overnight at nearby campgrounds.
Still, Fort DuPont isn’t trying to get too big. Its primary focus, after economic development, is the nature that draws people to the area.
“This is not like the Wilmington Riverfront with tall buildings,” said Randol. “Our hotel will be limited to five stories. Most of the buildings are anywhere from two to four stories ‚ one of the things we’re trying to do is to be sensitive to the viewshed so that people continue to have views of the waterfront.”
You can learn more about job and business opportunities at fortdupont.org.-30-
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