Capitol Shopping Center site gets reprieve

DOVER — City Council voted 5-3 to not demolish the buildings at 1032 to 1058 S. DuPont Highway, but instead granted the owner an extension to continue to make improvements by July 1 during Monday night’s meeting.

There will be updates during council meetings in January, February, March, April, May and June to track the progress of the building.

The building was home to the Capitol Shopping Center at 1026-1056 S. DuPont Highway, which was condemned by the city last year, due to possible asbestos contamination.

The shopping center had a number of businesses, including a barbershop, nail salon and tattoo shop.

The Capitol Shopping Center has been empty since it was declared unsafe in 2014. (Delaware State News file/Dave Chambers)

The Capitol Shopping Center has been empty since it was declared unsafe in 2014. (Delaware State News file/Dave Chambers)

The major health effects associated with asbestos include lung cancer, mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, and asbestosis, a non-cancerous disease of the lungs, according to the EPA.

The property is owned by BMDR LLC.

Renovations and asbestos abatement had begun on the second floor without any permits. The abatement area was not properly contained, causing asbestos fibers to enter the business tenant spaces on the first floor, said Anne Marie Townshend, the city’s director of planning and community development.

Walls were removed without approved building plans or a building permit. Ultimately, the asbestos abatement was completed in accordance with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control requirements.

Due to the removal of walls on the second floor, the city required a structural engineering report prior to allowing the building to be occupied, said Ms. Townshend.

Building plans prepared by a licensed architect are required in order for the city to issue a building permit for renovations.

Currently the structure is registered as a vacant building, with no utilities, and numerous outstanding code violations.

Ms. Townshend wanted to declare the building as dangerous with hopes of it being demolished by Dec 9.
Dover resident Robert Hartman shared the same sentiment.

“I live in the neighborhood near this building and we are concerned about it still being there,” Mr. Hartman said. “Since the building has been vacant people have been going through cars in the area, there has been vandalism and a lot of other safety concerns.

“We don’t want to see it there,” Mr. Hartman added. “We’re neighbors in a sense and the owner has been a bad neighbor. I know the owner wouldn’t want his kid there and he needs to be a better neighbor and I hope council recognizes that moving forward.”

Robert MacLeish, a representative of Lighthouse Construction in Magnolia, said there has been some progress since his company became involved with the project in May.

“We were asked by the owner to help with some of the issues going on over there,” Mr. MacLeish said. “There has been a few repairs that DNREC has signed off on and we put a fence around the building as well.”

Councilman William Hare made the motion to grant an extension until July 1 under the conditions that there are updates during council’s meeting in January, February, March, April, May and June to keep track of the building’s progression.

“That way if we don’t see any progression we can choose to demolish it then,” Councilman Hare said. “But Mr. MacLeish has a great reputation and has been a vital in the area for years.

“I think once it’s done it will be a first-class building and we will be something we would want for the future, but I think we just need to continue to monitor it.”

Mr. Hartman said he hopes Lighthouse Construction keeps its promise moving forward.

“We’re hopeful,” Mr. Hart said. “I hope they follow through and continue to make the changes that they said they were going to do.”

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