Industry Trends

An Inside Look at Delaware’s Future Crown Jewel

By Rob Belfiore, LEED AP • March 30, 2023 • 5 MIN READ

Development Remains on Track for Live-Work-Play Complex

This article originally appeared in the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s “Delaware Business Magazine.” You can reach the original article by clicking here.

At the intersection of U.S. 202 and Powder Mill Road in Fairfax, the old AstraZeneca Complex stands as a testament to robust Delaware business development. As the times change, so too does the need for bigger and better developments that drive Delaware growth.

To say the Avenue North Complex is one-of-a-kind would be a massive understatement, this is a live-work-play community that will change the face of Delaware forever. In June 2017, Delle Donne & Associates acquired the complex, renaming it Avenue North. Avenue North is slated to be an upscale, mixed-use campus combining office, commercial, residential, and recreational uses. EDiS Company was hired by Delle Donne & Associates as the Construction Manager to bring their vision to life.

The main focus of the complex is to make the environment as pedestrian friendly as possible. To begin that process, 5,000 truckloads of stone dust were used to create a completely flat plateau, making it ideal for easy pedestrian access. And that was only just the beginning.

“By going vertical, I would dare say we are going to be the most pedestrian friendly development in the state’s history, there’s nothing that comes close to what we’re building here,” said Ernest F. Delle Donne, chairman of Delle Donne & Associates.

Delle Donne and EDiS are striving to generate the right sense of place that the community deserves. This isn’t just another shopping center on Route 202. In deference to the DuPont family, the urban landscape and even the architecture of the apartment buildings were modeled after downtown Paris. Everything from the hardscaping, the cantenary lighting, the grove, and the Parisian field was Delle Donne’s way of tipping their hat to those who developed Delaware from the very beginning.

To that end, six designers were sent to Paris for the week so they could see what made the City of Lights the most pedestrian-friendly city in the world. They returned with some sophisticated ideas, down to the size, shape, and color of the bollards for parking; outdoor lighting; tory benches; and even the pyramidal shaped bandstand, modeled after the entrance to the Louvre. Parking is accessible but not visible to further improve the aesthetics of the overall environment.

Delaware First

Avenue North is taking the best of what Delaware has to offer and putting it all in one place. The regional pull it will generate isn’t the only benefit. There’s roughly a 7:1 construction multiplier into the local economy. If we take seven and multiply it by the cost of labor alone for this project, around $150 million, we’re talking about injecting $1 billion into the local economy. Coincidentally, that’s about the total cost of the entire complex combined. This is quite possibly the biggest project in Delaware’s history. As a state-centric development, it ensures that the people who paid the taxes to create this great infrastructure are the ones enjoying a lot of the benefits as well.

This is especially true when you look at the intersection of Routes 141 and 202, down to the Experimental Station. There are 14,000 employees alone who have zero amenities along that 1.2-mile stretch. This will serve as the hub for those workers, and all of Delaware for that matter. Technically, this site hasn’t been available to the public since 1948, when it was bought by the DuPont family. After 80 years, this site is finally available to the public.

“We’ll be taking a pause on leasing until June 1st” said Delle Donne. “I want everything to be built first, so that the tenants themselves can truly appreciate what this space really is. We want to hand select the best of the best. We need them to see the vision. Our architecture speaks to that, but the things that are about to come in the next six months will truly do it justice.”

The large headquarters users on site like JPMorgan, AstraZeneca, ChristianaCare, and Solenis will have these amenities less than 100 feet away from one another. Now, with the building of the 100,000 square foot, 180 feet high glass tower, those same amenities can be used to attract and keep talent for the 5,000-10,000 square foot users. The first two floors will be retail, while the next ten will be office space. Even the retail building close by is almost twice as expensive as it had to be, but it’s because it sits in front of $400 million worth of office buildings.

Again, placemaking and quality will be Avenue North’s reputation for years to come. This is going to be the crown jewel of our state. Now we just have to build it.

The Solenis World Headquarters project was also completed by EDiS Company.