More than a decade after a developer’s mammoth proposal for Barley Mill Plaza led to community outrage, court battles and ultimately the property’s sale, new owner Greg Pettinaro took to the stage at A.I. du Pont High School in Greenville on Tuesday night and received something close to a hero’s reception.
The uniformly positive community response from the auditorium’s packed house reflected both appreciation for the willingness to engage with neighbors at an early stage in the development’s planning – formal plans have not yet been filed with the county, and no rezonings are required – as well as the scale and quality of what will come.
The Stoltz organization had originally proposed 2.8 million square feet of new space; at the time that drew comparisons to the size of the King of Prussia Mall. Pettinaro’s Tuesday night presentation showcased a master plan with less than 500,000 square footage of office, retail and residential buildings, with a Wegmans food store as a key anchor.
“I’m a neighbor. I live in this community. And I drive by this site twice a day, to and from work,” said Pettinaro CEO Greg Pettinaro. “I want to build something that the community will appreciate, and that my family can be proud of,” he said.
Greenville resident Linda Farquhar likes what she heard. “I like their plan relative to what the prior developer had suggested,” she said. “Wegman’s seems to have strong core values and caters to an affluent demographic, so it seems like a nice fit.”
Cindy Love also lives near the site of the proposed development. “I am very impressed with the plan and thrilled about Wegmans!”
Greenville resident John Riley also once served on New Castle County Council and was surprised at the response last night. “I have been to many meetings of this nature. Applause is typically reserved for any comments in opposition, but this was a love-in. Not only were we [area residents] pleased by the scale and mixed-use concept, we could see that the project meets pent-up demand for certain services and amenities,” he said.
Plans for new development include:
• 464,844 sq. ft. of mixed-use space (office, retail, residential)
• Wegman’s grocery store as the anchor
• two office buildings – one at 50,000 sq. ft. and the other at 110,000 sq ft.
• 152,200 sq. ft. of retail in two shopping strips with restaurants, shops, and a coffee shop
• 11 acres of green space
• 33 luxury townhouses
• a 4-story apartment building with up to 80 flats
Ample parking will be provided around each area of the development.
Pettinaro said he expected the retail space to be filled with several restaurants and smaller service businesses, such as dry cleaners and coffee shops. A separate building will house a bank branch.
Pettinaro said the upscale grocery chain would likely open in 2022, and he expected the entire project to be completed “within five years.” The New Castle County government has not yet reviewed Pettinaro’s plans and would need to provide approval.
Farquhar said she is concerned about the possible impact of five years of construction on the Route 48/141 thoroughfare. “I wish it would happen sooner!” she said.
Questions from the audience focused on traffic considerations, walkability and access in the new community and issues including lighting, signage and landscaping.
As is indicated on the master plan above, left and right turns will be available from 141 north and south as well as Lancaster Pike east and west. An additional right turn from 141 north will also be available with quick access to the retail shops and Wegmans.
Attorneys for Pettinaro said many of these matters will be assessed and decided upon as the planning process progresses, promising a follow-on community meeting when further details could be discussed.
John Riley says he hopes the approval process is fair and swift. “I just hope New Castle County government provides the same level of service for Pettinarro’s project that they have provided for major employers like Incyte, and this gets turned around in reasonable time without adding delays and additional costs,” he said.
Pettinaro estimates the project will cost $135 million, will create 300 to 400 new construction jobs, and as many as 1,300 employees could ultimately work at the site.