Grotto Pizza plans to build production/storage facility in Dover

DOVER — Grotto Pizza has plans to make lots of dough in the city of Dover — 1.4 million pounds of it a year, to be exact.
The restaurant chain, largely known for its pizza and Italian dishes, was one of three applicants that took part in a Development Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday morning in the conference room at Dover City Hall.

Grotto Pizza is looking to create a dough production and storage facility at 122 Rosemary Road by converting two existing buildings into a combined facility for dough production, dry storage, food distribution and warehouse.

“What we’re doing is we are moving our commissary,” Jeff Gosnear, vice president of Grotto Pizza. “We have two commissaries right now. We have one in the southern part of the state in Lewes and we have one in New Castle. We are combining it into one large commissary in Dover in an industrial park.

“(Dover is) the center of the state and we have 16 locations throughout the state and it’s also better access to our location in Columbia, Maryland, from here … and our locations downstate are fine, we’ll be good from here. It’s perfect.”

The main building for the dough production facility is one story and 9,800-square-foot and the second building is one story and 3,000-square-foot.
The property, which is zoned M (Manufacturing Zone) and is subject to the Airport Environs Overlay Zone (AEOZ), consists of 2.088 acres and is located on the west side of Rosemary Road, north of Lafferty Lane.

Mr. Gosnear said combining the current two dough production facilities into one hub in Dover just makes sense to the company, considering its size and various locations throughout the state.

“We make our dough now in two places — not at the stores — we take the dough fresh to the stores about five times a week and some actually six times a week,” he said.
“What we’ll be doing now is we’ll just be doing it all from one central place and distributing it out from there.”

Grotto Pizza has 800 year-round employees in its stories, offices and facilities where the pizza dough is mixed. That number swells to 1,300 in the summer when business picks up in the Delaware beach area.

The company was founded in 1960 by Dominick Pulieri, along with his brother-in-law, Joe, and sister, Mary Jean.

Like the other two applications at Wednesday’s Development Advisory Committee meeting, the Grotto application will be considered by the Planning Commission at its meeting of Monday, Oct. 21.
“Once we’re done with the Planning Commission (in Dover) we’re hoping to start construction,” Mr. Gosnear said. “We have to put in some big freezers and some big mixers … it’s a lot of dough. It’s about 1.4 million pounds of dough a year.

“We plan to start in January, hopefully. We’re anticipating being able to operate that (Dover) dough facility in April.”

Starting another wash cycle
Tommy Express Car Wash, a company that is already in the planning process to build a new facility on the former site of the Kirby & Holloway family restaurant at 656 N. DuPont Highway, is looking to build another car wash at the corner of Forest Street and Carver Road in west Dover.

The company submitted an application to the city’s Planning Department to demolish the existing structures at the site and then construct a one-story 4,504-square-foot car wash (service establishment) with associated site improvements on a 2.07 acres on the east side of Saulsbury Road, north of Forest Street and west of Carver Road.
The properties are zoned Limited Central Commercial Zone (C2A) and Limited Commercial Zone (C-1A) and are subject to the Corridor Overlay Zone (COZ-1).

The owner of record for all the properties involved is Faithwork LLC. The car wash project involves properties located at 21 and 27 Saulsbury Road; 20, 26, 30 and 34 Carver Road and 971, 975 and 983 Forest Street.
“This is a different site that will be the same type of Tommy Express Car Wash (as the one being developed at the former Kirby & Holloway Restaurant),” said Doug Liberman, project manager for Larson Engineering Group. “It will be located at the intersection of Forest Street and Saulsbury Road and at the corner of Carver and Forest Street.”

The first Tommy Express Car Wash site on the highway received backlash from owners from three other Dover car washes — Race Track Car Wash, Westside Car Wash and Coastal Car Wash — who all attended the Planning Commission meeting last February.

Mr. Liberman said on Wednesday that he believed the car wash on U.S. 13 is moving forward with approvals.
“We’re trying to have the new one (in west Dover) done and approved by the beginning of the year before construction in the spring,” he said. “I think both car washes are about the same size.”
Apartments, shelter in the works

The third item at the Development Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday was the review of a site development plan submitted by the Central Delaware Housing Collaborative. The group has proposed demolishing the existing buildings at 731 W. Division Street and constructing a three-story multiple-dwelling unit structure that would contain 12 apartments units. The project would also include associated site improvements, as part of the operations as a philanthropic/charitable organization.

The existing building at 801 W. Division Street is to remain and be used as an emergency shelter.

The properties total 19,750-square-feet and are located on the north side of West Division Street. They are zoned Institutional and Office Zone (IO) and are subject to the requirements of the Corridor Overlay Zone (COZ-1).

The owner of record is AID in Dover, Inc. and equitable owner is Central Delaware Housing Collaborative.

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

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