Former Playtex water tower coming down to make way for shopping center

The water tower at the old Playtex plant in Dover is set to be torn down on Wednesday. The site will eventually be transformed into
Capital Station, a 60,285-square-foot of commercial development that will include five stores and restaurants anchored by an Aldi grocery store at the intersection of U.S. 13 and Division Street. (Delaware State News file photo/Marc Clery)

DOVER — The rusty old water tower that stands at the former Playtex plant can be seen either as an eyesore or as a reminder to the city of Dover’s robust manufacturing past.

Either way, the water tower is coming down early Wednesday morning as part of the demolition that is taking place to make room for the Capital Station shopping complex.

The demolition of the old water tower at the former Playtex site will cause a portion of Division Street to close from 3 a.m. until 5:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Division Street will be closed between U.S. 13 and Bayard Avenue during the demolition.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen noted the Playtex building once served as a vital employment opportunity for hundreds of families throughout the city.

However, after the site has sat vacant for nearly 20 years, it is time to move forward, he said.

“Dover is on the move, we’re on the rise,” Mayor Christiansen said. “Our economy’s changing. We’re moving away from maybe having to be an industrial center with heavy manufacturing to service industries, medical expertise, dining and shopping.”

The Capital Station project is a big part of that expansion in the service industry.

Capital Station developers are calling for 60,285-square-foot of commercial development that will include five stores and restaurants, is expected to be anchored by a 19,055-square-foot Aldi grocery store, directly at the intersection of U.S. 13 and Division Street.

Brian Finnegan, principal at Whitewoods Capital Advisors LLC, which is developing Capital Station, said it is all in the name of progress that will eventually change the look and feel of the area.

“This is your one chance to develop a site like this,” Mr. Finnegan said. “Once it’s developed, it is what it is. It’s an important corner for the city of Dover.

“You’re looking at an old industrial building and it’s an eyesore, even for the neighborhood across the street. That’s not really what you really want to see driving into the governmental center.”

While demolition has been taking place at the old Playtex site for the past eight to 10 months, there’s still a way to go before the shopping complex goes up.

“The key to this project is it’s an industrial building that’s been vacant for 17 years and, it being an industrial building, the environmental concerns that are out at the site, we’ve got to approach that the right way,” he said. “Once (demolition and abatement of the building is) done we’ll have a site work, probably over a four-month period, and then we’ll go vertical with the buildings.”

Mr. Finnegan said he knows the site of the future Capital Station is an important one to the city.

“I understand the city of Dover sees this as the gateway (to the city), and very much so it is,” he said. “You can see by the architecture that we’ve put together, it’s in keeping with what you see down here. There’s a lot of brick. We’re trying to give them a project that’s in keeping with this whole straightaway with this site.

“I think what we propose here is in keeping what’s going up and down with the commercial aspects of what’s going on, but it is going to look much better than what they’ve had for 17 years there in an abandoned state.”

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