Panel OKs proposal to redevelop old Dover Wal-Mart site

DOVER — The long vacant building that used to house Wal-Mart, off U.S. 13 in north Dover, will soon be filled as the city’s Dover Planning Commission unanimously voted 8-0 to approve a plan to redevelop the site during Monday night’s meeting.

Dean Pletz, of Onix Dover LLC is the property’s owner. The applicant was represented by Conny Malmberg and Douglas Liberman, project engineer.

Tenants will include an Outback Steakhouse, Ross, Petco, Five Below, Ulta Beauty and a Shoe Carnival, said Mr. Malmberg.

The building has been vacant since October 2011, when the retail store moved to a new location two miles north in Cheswold.

“The old Wal-Mart site has been standing empty for much too long and I’m glad to see something is going to be done that’s desirable and pleasing to see,” said Planning Commission Vice Chairman Fred Tolbert.

The existing commercial building will undergo renovation and building addition activities, resulting in a reduction in its overall square footage of 118,234 square feet to 98,098 square feet.

Demolition will occur in portions of the south and west sections of the existing building, along with additions to the east and west ends. This will reconfigure the footprint of the existing building and enable its division into multiple tenant spaces.

The panel also approved a waiver to request a reduction with the arterial street buffer, as North DuPont Highway is considered a principal arterial street and requires a 30-foot landscape buffer along the road frontage.

The waiver request notes the location of existing parking lot curbing at 14 feet from the property line, then an existing paving and parking area of 16 feet width.

The commission also unanimously voted to approve a zone change regarding property once owned by the late Muriel Schwartz, a pioneer theater owner and Dover civic leader.

Currently 801 N. State St. is zoned RG-3, which allows group housing. Gold Coast LLC applied for a change to C-2A, meaning it would be zoned as limited central commercial.

The commission rejected the rezoning at its March 16 meeting.

City planning director Ann Marie Townshend said commission members didn’t believe the proposed use was compelling enough to change the property’s zoning.

It deferred the matter to council after members either approve or disapprove amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan.

Under the current RG-3 zoning for that site, commercial development is not allowed. However, it is surrounded by both commercial and residential properties such as Big Lots, the Countrie Eatery, Compass Point and the Overlook at Silver Lake.

In April, council unanimously voted 6-0 against the planning commission’s decision, as members agreed the site was consistent with the current infrastructures in the surrounding area.
During Monday night’s meeting the planning commission agreed with council and approved the recommendation.

“The application is compatible and council has endorsed the zoning,” said member of the commission Dean Holden.”

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