Capital Station complex could revitalize old Playtex site

DOVER — Some of the applications that cross the desk of Dawn Melson-Williams, principal planner in Dover’s Department of Planning and Inspection, are routine and not very exciting.

But then there are others, such as one regarding the proposed Capital Station complex, which really draw some attention and excitement regarding what could lie ahead for the future of Dover.

Ms. Williams and the city’s Development Advisory Committee reviewed an application on Wednesday by Capital Station Dover LLC that would completely redevelop the old Playtex factory, located in the northwest corner of Route 13, Del. 8 and also adjacent to Maple Parkway.

Granted, these are the very first steps in a sometimes long and tedious development process, but it is an exciting idea that could bring a new energy to the area. The former factory has been closed for more than a decade.

“The Route 13 corridor certainly has a number of properties that are opportunities for redevelopment and this happens to be one of them,” Ms. Williams said. “It’s a significant corner, certainly.”

The old Playtex plant in Dover is being considered for demolition in the near future, (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The Capital Station project is calling for 60,285-square-foot of commercial development that will call for the demolition of the site of the former Playtex plant and water tower on the property.

The development is proposed to include a 23,310-square-foot retail and restaurant multi-tenant building, a 6,625-square-foot retail and restaurant multi-tenant building, a 5,224-square-foot retail or restaurant building, a 6,080-square-foot restaurant building and a 19,055-square-foot Aldi grocery store, directly at the intersection of Route 13 and Del. 8.

City Planner Eddie Diaz said there have not been any details released yet regarding any of Capital Station’s tenants with the exception of Aldi.

Ironically, Aldi’s chief competitor, Lidl, is developing a grocery store not far from the new project.

“(Capital Station) is five buildings,” Mr. Diaz said. “They are building a road that will go right through the middle of the complex, splitting it into a front half and a back half. Aldi will be on the front corner facing Route 13.

“Right now, the factory building is definitely very visible from that corner. The hope is that we’ll have something more visibly attractive for that corner other than what’s there right now.”

The Capital Station project will also include related-site improvements, including the provision of parking, landscaping and pedestrian and bicycle facilities for the shopping center.

Ms. Williams did caution that the project is in its infant stages.

The property was actually the subject of another proposed developement called Watertower Place, also known as “Tower Commons,” which was granted conditional approval by the Planning Commission on April 21, 2014.

However, construction never took place and the plan subsequently expired.

“This is the first initial hearing and the beginning of their review process,” Ms. Williams said, referring to Capital Station Dover LLC. “All of these (applicants) have to appear in front of the planning commission for the planning commission action and then there’s the whole process of finalizing the plans to meet all of the regulatory requirements from the various agencies.

“It’s an involved process.”

Ms. Williams was referring to city of Dover departments such as Public Works, the Fire Department, Delaware Department of Transportation and the Kent Conservation District, among others.

Ms. Williams did say that Capital Station Dover LLC has reached out to the city to find out how it can get the demolition process started on the former Playtex factory site.

“There’s some interest in dealing with the current building existing on the property right now and how to get started on any kind of removal of that building, which will be a significant project in and of itself,” she said.

The Development Advisory Committee will meet with the developers of the project at its next meeting on May 3 before deciding if it the application will be ready to be presented to the Planning Commission on May 15.

In other news …

The three other applications reviewed by the Development Advisory Committee on Wednesday were relatively routine and appear to be headed to the Planning Commission.

Plans were heard regarding the rezoning of three parcels at The Lands of Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge at 1408, 1412 and 1416 College Road. The properties are zoned R-8 (One Family Residence Zone) and the proposed zoning is IO (Institutional and Office Zone).

There was also a review of a minor subdivision plan at 749 West North Street where MauTiste, LLC is hoping to convert a 23,144-square-foot lot into three new lots of around 7,400-square-foot each for the construction of three new affordable home projects.

The final item on the agenda was a review of a site development plan to permit construction of a 5,842-square-foot Longhorn Steakhouse restaurant as part of the Capital Commons development.

The Longhorn Steakhouse is planned for the south end of the Burlington/Big Lots shopping center. A Panera Bread restaurant is still in the works for the north side of Capital Commons.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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