Middletown area is set to grow again with a 70-acre retail, residential development
A shopping center with close to 250,000 square feet of retail space, 145 adjacent townhomes and office space is being planned near Middletown amid continued housing growth south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.
The Bayberry Town Center, which will connect by walking path to the Bayberry communities and their more than 1,000 homes surrounding Boyds Corner Road, received approval from New Castle County Council last week.
The plans for the town center include more than a dozen buildings dedicated to retail, restaurants and offices. The current layout calls for a grocery store and a fitness center or large retailer as the anchor tenants.
"It is a really exciting milestone for us," said Simi Sonecha of Blenheim Homes, who manages Bayberry. "It's been a project that's long been in the making because of the scale of it."
Sonecha said her team has not finalized agreements with any tenants and declined to share who has expressed interest.
Plans for the Bayberry development and the shopping center have gone through several iterations since Bayberry's founders acquired the land in 1994. There were once plans to build a 5,000-acre community around a proposed computer chip plant near Summit Airport, but they never materialized.
Since then, the land has been divided among multiple smaller developments. Over the past several years, New Castle County Council has approved around 10,000 residential units to be built in the Middletown area.
The recently approved plan places the town center at the northeast corner of Jamison Corner and Boyds Corner roads. More than 1,000 homes are due to be built near Boyds Corner Road alone, including further development of the Bayberry properties.
Bayberry's master plan calls for more than 2,000 homes, including a 569-unit 55 and older community. Since sales started in 2012, 1,117 homes have been built including about two-thirds of the 55 and older community.
The County Council approved plans for a 513-home subdivision called Winchelsea, submitted by developer Rick Woodin of Woodin + Associates, in 2015. The development is directly north of the town center and will have walking access.
A town center has been part of the Bayberry plans since the development was first conceived, but it's changed forms multiple times. A plan previously sent to the County Council included much more office space than the current version.
Sonecha said the decision to reduce the amount of office space was made in response to the shifting market. Following the growing mixed-use trend, designed to encourage people to shop and eat where they live, Bayberry decided to place a greater emphasis on green space and making the center walkable in the current version of the town center.
"Our intent was not to create a shopping center, it was to make a charming place," Sonecha said.
It's that "innovative" community design, along with the growing number of homes, that Sonecha believes will appeal to business owners as the town center is further developed.
She also says being able to tap into Middletown's growth without having to traverse its increasingly busy main drag, Middletown Warwick Road, will be a major plus.
"I think it is going to be really refreshing for people," Sonecha said.
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