'Friendly foreclosure' planned for Darley Green development - News Journal
June 8, 2012 Written by ADAM TAYLOR The News Journal
Darley Green, the mixed-use development project being counted on as the key to Claymont’s revitalization, will change hands Monday in a “friendly foreclosure,” officials said.
Louis Capano III’s company will buy the note on the 66-acre property, off Philadelphia Pike, for about 30 cents on the dollar from Bank of America, New Castle County Councilman Robert Weiner said.
The current developer, The Commonwealth Group, unsuccessfully tried to refinance with the bank, said Commonwealth Group’s Don Robitzer.
“We were unable to refinance, so the bank sold them the note,” Robitzer said. “The friendly foreclosure will be Monday, and The Commonwealth Group will be the developer going forward.”
The purchase price was not available Friday. Capano could not be reached.
County officials said they don’t think the change will harm the project.
County Councilman John Cartier said Commonwealth was overextended on the project.
“They had to borrow so much money to buy the land. There were demolition costs, and there was no income being generated yet,” Cartier said. “In the meantime, they were bearing all these interest costs.”
The project was hurt by the housing crash of 2008.
Residents began moving into Darley Green in October 2009. About a year ago, only 5 percent of 1,226 planned housing units had been built.
If fully built, the project, valued at $300 million, would have town homes, condominiums and about 67,000 square feet of commercial space on the former site of the dilapidated and crime-ridden Brookview Apartments.
The county recently broke ground on a $9.5 million library in Darley Green on 7.5 acres donated by Commonwealth.
County Land Use General Manager David Culver said Capano’s company must build the rest of the development to the specifications and design approved for The Commonwealth Group.
“Any changes would have to be approved by the county,” Culver said.
Weiner said he’s not worried by the new ownership.
“Projects change hands from developer to developer all the time,” Weiner said. “Mixed-use projects of this nature take 10 to 20 years to come to fruition.”
Cartier said he’s hopeful the change will actually speed up Darley Green’s progress.
“They’re buying it at a discount, and the housing market has improved,” he said. “This is better than a long period of no progress at all. I think Darley Green will emerge from this more competitive and more economically sound in the near future.”
Contact Adam Taylor at 324-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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