When the 46 tenants of the Green Acres mobile home park received their eviction notices June 27, 2002, they were told the site would be sold and then developed into shopping plaza. They had until January 1, 2003, to pack up and move out.
The decision by the land owners to sell the property came as a shock to the park's residents, some of who had lived there since 1975. Outrage about the sale generated talk and some legislative action about protecting the rights of mobile home owners but ultimately the residents all were forced to leave.
The land at the northeast corner of the Route 10/Route 13 intersection was sold to a commercial developer and eventually annexed into the town of Camden. Rumors at the time indicated people expected to see a large supermarket built there as an anchor store.
Today, more than 10 years later, however, the land vacated by those mobile home owners remains just that – vacant.
The trash-strewn property is punctuated by what appears to be a concrete block foundation and small hillocks formed from piles of dirt that now covered in grass and weeds. A sign at the corner advises the property is for lease.
Kimco Realty of Hyde Park, N.Y., is the leasing agent for the five parcels that make up the 9.85-acre property, which it proposes to develop into a shopping plaza dubbed Camden Square. Plans for the project include two proposed retail stores and two proposed restaurants.
"We're looking to develop it as a commercial shopping center," said Greg Reed, Kimco's director of development and acquisition.
"We are actively marketing the property to various tenants, but until we have an executed lease, we cannot release information on who we're negotiating with," he said.
Town Planning Commission Vice Chairman Michael Schock said he'd heard two years ago about the possibility of a strip mall being built that would have been anchored by a Grotto's Pizza restaurant.
Vinnie DiNatale, director of Marketing for Grotto's, confirmed the company had received a proposal from a developer when it was looking to open a store in Dover, but that the offer ultimately was declined.
The location, DiNatatle said, "was not actively pursued."
"We do, however, from time to time, receive proposals and inquiries from developers," he said. "This location was never seriously considered."
Grotto's has since renovated the former Atlantic Book Store near Dover Downs, which it plans to open in May.
Since that single nibble more than two years ago, Camden officials say there apparently has been little or no interest in the property.
"I've not heard anything at all about anything coming to that area," said Camden Town Manager Aaron Chaffinch, who has been on the job since May 2012. "I'm not aware of it and the town is not aware of it. They would have to come to us before anything could happen."