Dover Mall ‘power center’ takes first steps in planning process

An aerial view of the U.S. 13 intersection in front of Dover Mall. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — City Planner Dave Hugg said it was exciting to see the Dover Mall “power center” master plan in its infant stages at Wednesday’s Development Advisory Committee staff meeting, even though it didn’t offer insight into potential stores or entertainment options that might be coming to Dover in the future.

The Dover Mall “power center” master plan was vague in details as it was presented to committee members at the City Hall conference room by Dawn Melson-Williams, the principal planner in the city’s Department of Planning and Inspections.

Dawn Melson-Williams, the principal planner in the city’s Department of Planning and Inspections, goes over the Dover Mall “power center” Master Plan at Wednesday’s Development Advisory Committee staff meeting. Delaware State News/Mike Finney

Still, it was a step forward to getting the long journey started toward breathing new life into the sprawling Dover Mall property that sits at 1365 N. DuPont Highway.

“It’s an exciting project,” Mr. Hugg said. “It’s basically building another mall behind the (current) mall that’s there and it’s just kind of the trend in retail — what they call town centers, power centers, main streets — there are a lot of different names for it.

“Basically, there’s this notion of more of an outdoor mall in a city kind of setting. It’s basically what’s been happening in Christiana and King of Prussia and other places up north.”

Mr. Hugg noted that on the project maps there was no timeline for the construction of the access road from Del. 1 that is supposed to wind into the Dover Mall property, bringing more shoppers along with it.

Ms. Melson-Williams said those kinds of details for the plan to reinvigorate the mall will be revealed later in the process.

“With a master plan they have to present a general concept to the Planning Commission, so we’re not going to see heavy details on all of the landscaping aspects and things like that,” she said. “There is no designation of what type of tenants there will be at all on this plan. There are no specific tenants that are identified with the project.”

Dover Mall LLC and Dover Power Center LLC, the owners of record, plan on making the improvements in three separate phases, with the first one being the construction of the “power center,” which consists of 22 proposed buildings totaling 573,000 square feet.

The first phase also will include the construction of parking lots, access roads, open spaces and other site improvements. The opening phase will be located on two parcels totaling 59.50 acres to the east of the Dover Mall.

Traffic leaves the Dover Mall onto U.S. 13 southbound. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

The second phase consists of additions to the main Dover Mall building totaling 18,000-square-feet, as well as site improvements intended to upgrade one of the entrances to the mall building. The improvements will be made near the current food court entrance to the mall, a 1.5-acre area on the east side of the building.

The third phase consists of a 5,500-square-foot building on a pad site with associated site improvements that will be made to a 3.90-acre area west of the mall along North DuPont Highway.

The final phase will also create an eastern mall entrance road from Del. 1 and a relocation of the north entryway into the mall from DuPont Highway.

The Dover Mall “power center” master plan application also went to the state’s PLUS committee (Preliminary Land Use Service) last week because of the size of the project.

The Dover Development Advisory Committee will meet with the applicants next Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the City Hall conference room of City Hall before the master plan application is considered by the Planning Commission at its meeting on Aug. 20.

“With the master plan it goes to Planning Commission and then each phase will be subject to filing of an administrative site plan, which will be the very detailed plans of everything,” Ms. Melson-Williams said. “So, in looking at this (master plan) we’re just looking at the overall concepts.

“I think from just in general what the Planning Office is seeing, the most complicated and complex part of this whole project is just transportation in general, and that ranges from site access questions, once you get on the site and start the internal circulation, how do you pass through the existing mall ring-road system to get to the ‘power center’ and the various intersections thereof?”

Mr. Hugg said the length of the project is sure to take patience, from both the city and the developers.

“It’ll be a long project,” he said. “There are still plenty of questions left to be answered.”

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

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