With the city of Harrington envisioning at least 700 new jobs as its industrial park comes to fruition in coming years, it's also thinking about housing. On that front, two new developments are nearing readiness on the east side of the city along Route 14, which could bring more than 450 housing units. That’s a considerable bump for a city with a population of a little over 3,500 and brings a lot of growth to the east side of Route 13.
One project is slated for a 36-acre parcel of land that’s currently a soybean field right behind the Food Lion shopping plaza. The plan is for a development called Harmill Village with about 180 units, City Planner Karen Brittingham said. Those will be mostly single family homes with some duplexes and townhomes as well.
Not far away to the southeast, on the other side of Route 14, an 18-acre piece of land is slated for an apartment complex called Harrington Gardens. Brittingham said that one will have close to 285 units.
Mayor Duane E. Bivans said that kind of growth and investment from developers signals what kind of city Harrington is to business leaders and to the community. When businesses see people are coming to the area, rather than leaving like in other parts of the region, that could be a draw, he said.
“I believe we’re leaning in the right direction for that growth,” he said.
The preliminary work for the Harmill Village development north of Route 14 is in the final stages, Brittingham said. Typically, she would predict a project at this stage would break ground in the spring, but supply chain and labor issues plaguing the economy right now make that timing more uncertain. Still, she sounded optimistic it could meet that timeline.
The developer for that parcel is Henry Mast, who also developed Friendship Village on the other side of town. That development currently has about 150 residences but more are in the works at some point.
For the new Harmill Village project, the developer will be required to put in town septic and water at his expense.
The Harrington Gardens apartment complex on the south side of Route 14 has been in the works for years, but Brittingham said progress had stalled in its final stages. Now, it’s ready to move forward again and she said it should get final approval in the next six months.
Brittingham’s job for the city is to look at “where we want to go and how we’re going to get there.” The city has identified a couple of needs, she said, including more jobs (believed to be in the works) and different types of housing.
“Not only are we looking at housing, but you’re looking at a blend for people for what they can afford,” she said.
“We have a really good blend here,” she said of the current and upcoming developments.
Like Bivans, she said the city is in a good position for growth. Health care options are nearby with the new Bayhealth campus in Milford and TidalHealth Nanticoke in Seaford.
“As you bring in jobs, you bring in houses and you bring in what they need to have for the people that are around it,” Brittingham said. “... So we’ve got our industry, we’ve got our residential and we’ve got our commercial that we’re looking at.”
On a large color coded city map on the wall of her office, she gestured to large undeveloped areas zoned residential on the north side of Harrington where there’s room for even more growth. “There’s lots of potential.”
Brittingham, like a real estate agent making a case, also touted the city’s convenient location for shipping and efforts to make Harrington a rail hub.
“We’re not like Milford, we don’t have a Riverwalk, but we have the rail, and now we’re actually bringing that rail back up to this century.”
The city’s plans for the industrial park and rail hub on the east side of Route 13, just north of the fairgrounds, will require about $20 million in public investment. The idea is to extend Clukey Drive through about 131 acres owned by the city and a couple of businesses, taking advantage of the existing rail line and adding more rail access to the property.
“I’m extremely excited for Harrington, and I think we’re in a wonderful position right now,” Brittingham said. “... We have a lot to offer. And what I see is that we have the potential in terms of the area around us to grow to offer even more.”