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1/2/2015
Wilmington University files Concord Pike plans - News Journal

Xerxes Wilson, The News Journal

Wilmington University has taken the next step in developing its new campus on U.S. 202 in Brandywine Hundred.

Land development plans submitted to New Castle County’s land use department last week give a glimpse of what the university has planned for the currently undeveloped 41 acre tract at the intersection of Beaver Valley Road and Concord Pike.

The plans represent an eight to 10 year project that will likely be built in three phases. The timing of those phases will be dictated by the university’s growth, according to Wilmington University spokesman Laurie Bick.

The full designs dictate that buildings, parking lots, roadways and sidewalks will ultimately occupy about 12 acres of the property with open space remaining on 29 acres of the 41-acre tract.

The plans call for three separate three-story buildings totaling about 200,000 square feet of space to be used primarily for classrooms and faculty office space. This will be the largest capital improvement program in the university’s 46-year history.

Pending approvals, construction on the first building, representing the first of three phases, could begin in a year to 18 months, Bick said.

The full plans call for three buildings framing an existing wooded area and pond. The university wants to maintain that wooded and wet area as something pleasant for students to look at, Bick said.

“We are going to do the best we can to blend a welcoming presence and not detracting from the natural beauty of the location,” Bick said. “By the time it is completed, it will be a lovely gateway but will not stick out like a sore thumb.”

The buildings will be designed to combine the university’s traditional aesthetic of brick with more modern elements like an extensive use of glass. Homsey Architects and Rodney Robinson Landscape Architects have been charged with the facility’s design.

“We are still in the planning stages, but the overall plan is to blend in more with the Brandywine Valley using natural stone where we can, using glass and other materials that make sense and not stick out,” Bick said.

The full-design of the property will be equipped to handle up to 250 employees and 1,000 students. Parking will have the largest footprint on the development with 998 parking places in three lots set between each building and the surrounding roadways.

The parking lots will be be tied together by a series of sidewalks with roadway entrances into the campus from Beaver Valley Road to the north, Thompsons Bridge Road to the west and Rocky Run Parkway to the south.

The university plans to buffer the campus by at least 100 feet along each right of way using a combination of bushes, trees, fencing and possibly stone wall accents. A water feature and stone wall will mark the corner of Concord Pike and Beaver Valley Road.

The plans are still subject to review and approval through various facets of government. A state traffic study is underway and plans call for class start times to be staggered in consideration of peak traffic times.

Bick said the university is not releasing financial details about the investment.

The university’s Du Pont Highway campus in New Castle will remain the University’s “main campus” and host the top administrative offices, Bick said.

University president Jack Varsalona has cited the institution’s rapid growth of 7 percent annually each of the last six years as causing a need for the expansion. Today, enrollment stands just over 19,000.

Contact Staff Writer Xerxes Wilson at (302) 324-2787 or xwilson@delawareonline.com.

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