Corrugated box ‘super plant’ may bring 150 to 200 jobs to Dover

DOVER — Linda Parkowski is cautiously excited about Kent County and the city of Dover’s prospects of becoming the new home of the U.S. Corrugated box manufacturing company, which has been based out of Newark, New Jersey, for the past 35 years.

If U.S. Corrugated continues to move forward on plans to build a mammoth $80 million “super plant” in Dover it could bring with it approximately 150 to 200 manufacturing jobs.

Ms. Parkowski, executive director of the Kent Economic Partnership, cautioned that it’s not a done deal yet.

“Anytime that a new company moves into the area it’s exciting for everyone involved in economic development,” she said. “This company still needs to go through some regulatory hurdles. It’s not a done deal yet, but we’re traded and hopefully the process will go as smooth as possible.”

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said that if manufacturing jobs are brought in that it will bring in even more jobs, including those in the service and technology industry, to help support the plant.

“According to a news (report), U.S. Corrugated box company is going to bring anywhere between 150 to 200 jobs, and it’s my understanding that we’ve not really gotten any official notification of it other than the article we were made privy to in the Delaware Business Times,” Mayor Christiansen said.

“I’m excited about it. There are a few more steps of processing that they have to go through, but we’re confident that the last few hurdles are jumpable, and we’re really excited about all of those jobs coming to Dover.”

Ms. Parkowski said the potential manufacturing plant would be a boon for central Delaware.

“The true beauty of economic development is if you bring the jobs in then the services follow – all the other amenities, all the restaurants and the services that everybody’s looking for will follow once you bring the jobs … they come first,” she said.

The city of Dover’s staff Development Advisory Committee combed through the initial plans for the massive 457,500-square-foot U.S. Corrugated manufacturing facility during its virtual meeting on Wednesday morning.

The “super plant” will be located at 1436 New Burton Road, on the northeast side of the POW/MIA Parkway and west of New Burton Road. The property is adjacent to the railroad on the east.

U.S. Corrugated of Delaware is hoping to break ground in November on the 37.47-acre parcel between Dover and Camden and open sometime in 2021.

The Delaware Business Times reported on its website that U.S. Corrugated is expected to close its 35-year-old, full-line box plant in Newark, New Jersey, and plans to transfer operations to the new Dover plant by the end of 2021. Preliminary plans show the site at roughly 110 loading docks and potential to expand the building footprint in the future.

The project still has a way to go to clear the permitting process with state, county and city entities before it becomes a reality, but Ms. Parkowski and other officials are confident in central Delaware having the kinds of things the manufacturer is looking for.

“Central Delaware is becoming known as a real manufacturing location,” Ms. Parkowski said. “We have really good training programs, we have a workforce that is perfect for the manufacturing sector, and we have good location. We have a great central location. Central Delaware has a lot of plusses as far as attracting and keeping manufacturing.”

More parking for
Bayhealth Kent Campus?

Dover’s Development Advisory Committee also reviewed a proposed site development master plan at Wednesday’s meeting in which Bayhealth is seeking the construction of 453 new parking spaces that will be built over the course of three phases for the Bayhealth Kent Campus in Dover.

However, the plan shows the demolition of existing buildings on the east side of South State Street in each phase for a total of seven buildings demolished, including the Scull Mansion, to accommodate the increased volume of parking.

“My projection is the Scull parking lot is going to give (the hospital) ample parking,” Mayor Christiansen said. “I hope that they are able to maintain that historic building (Scull Mansion) because the Scull property was the first hospital in Dover with a doctor’s office and it was the first medical facility the city of Dover had.”

The additional parking would increase the facility’s parking spaces from 227 to a total of 680 parking spaces on the Scull property.

Phase 1 proposes 290 parking spaces, followed by Phase 2’s 72 parking spaces and Phase 3’s additional 91 parking spaces and a connection to South State Street at the South State Street intersection.

The properties that will be turned into parking lots measure 11.43 acres and are located on the east side of South State Street in the block between South Street and Scull Terrace. The owners of record are Bayhealth Medical Center Inc. and KGH Development Corp. The parcels are proposed to be consolidated before the project begins.

In other business …

The Union Wholesale facility, located at 679 Horsepond Road in Dover, had its site plan application reviewed by the DAC as it looks to build a 9,000-square-foot-warehouse and make site improvements to an existing 4,983-square-foot warehouse and office building. The plan also showed additional parking and landscaping to meet code requirements.