While the city of Dover has been riding a wave of efforts to renovate and reinvigorate its downtown area, it still must wrestle with the problem of finding new tenants for large, vacant commercial buildings.
Like programs for its inner city, Dover also has an incentives program for redeveloping its industrial and commercial buildings. Those include partial waivers of permit fees, tax waivers for up to 10 years and not charging impact fees for water and sewer service.
1. Metro Food Market/Phar-Mor, 257 N. Dupont Highway
This 65,000-square-foot building was part of the Phar-Mor discount drug chain, which went out of business in 2002. Subsequently opened as a Metro Food Market, that business closed down six years later and the building has been vacant since. It soon will be home to the Airbase Carpet and Tile Mart, which is moving from South Little Creek Road, and the first downstate location of New Castle’s Urban Furniture Outlet. Between the two stores, the expansion should bring about 15 new jobs to Dover. City of Dover 2014 Value Assessment: $4,916,200; Property Tax Income: $16,606.92.
2. Big Kmart, 515 N. Dupont Highway
Dover’s Big Kmart shut down in July 2014. The nearly 89,000-square-foot building has been purchased by Beachwood, Ohio-based DDR Corp, which will completely renovate the interior, give the exterior a facelift and landscape the large parking lot. The city of Dover has reported there are two potential tenants for the building. City of Dover 2014 Value Assessment: $6,209,000; Property Tax Income: $20,974.
3. TigerDirect/CompUSA, 1350 N. Dupont Highway
This 23,500-square-foot building was constructed in 1998 and has seen numerous incarnations, including Circuit City, CompUSA and TigerDirect.com stores. Current plans for the building are to open a Produce Junction location, the first in Delaware. The family-owned business has 18 locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The company plans approximately $1.5 million in renovations to the existing building, and is aiming at a July 1 opening date. City of Dover 2014 Value Assessment: $2,226,500; Property Tax Income: $7,521.11.
4. Sunroc, 60 Starlifter Ave.
This 280,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1994 to house the Sunroc water cooler manufacturing plant. Barely 11 years later, the facility shut down when Sunroc moved its operations to Mexico. There have been several temporary tenants for the building, and the Delaware State Police used the facility to train its K9s. The city continues to actively market the building. City of Dover 2014 Value Assessment: $5,772,300; Property Tax Income: $19,498.83.
5. Playtex Products Plant, 50 N. Dupont Highway
Currently under development as Water Tower Place, the site contains a complex of four buildings, formerly used for laytex and other goods manufacturing. The buildings, which date to 1940, will be demolished. The developer has plans to place retail stores and restaurants on the 9.3-acre site, which is adjacent to a water tower and city of Dover electrical substation. A site plan for the first of what is expected to be a multi-phase project at the site was approved in April 2014 by the city planning commission. The city’s planning office is awaiting final plans before the project proceeds further. City of Dover 2014 Value Assessment: $6,185,500; Property Tax Income: $20,894.61.
6. Wal-Mart Building, 1574 N. Dupont Highway
Built in 1991, this building has remained vacant since it was closed in October 2011 when a $12.5 million Super Wal-Mart opened near Cheswold. The 118,000-square-foot building was sold to a real estate development group for $5.2 million in 2011. Development plans for the building have been settled and leases have been signed for several pad sites. Tenants for the building, which is expected to be subdivided into at least four units, should be announced shortly. City of Dover Value Assessment: $8,641,100; Property Tax Income: $29,189.63.