What is right now a cornfield on the south side of Bridgeville is slated to be the next stage for the town’s booming growth, with plans underway to bring in new shops, hundreds of apartments and maybe even a hotel.
The development could add more than 500 new residents to town, along with a number of retail jobs. Some of the apartments may be age-restricted, early plans show.
A business called Bridgeville Development Company LLC is developing the farmland, almost 47 acres, just to the south of the Food Lion shopping center and existing townhomes on the east side of Route 13. The property partially abuts Street’s Produce, but doesn’t include it.
The vision is for an area with two large retail buildings, a 100-room hotel, a gas station and several smaller retail pad sites along Route 13. Behind that, connecting to Route 404, would be about 13 three-story apartment buildings, 342 or so units in all, and two clubhouses.
The goal is to break ground by the end of the first quarter next year, said Sean Langford, a broker for MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services, which is handling the real estate side. The work was initially slated for this summer, but COVID-19 pushed back plans as businesses that were interested in getting involved put on the brakes. A hotel is still part of the plan, but the hotel industry is a wild card right now, Langford said, and that portion could be converted to housing.
Langford was optimistic about the demand for housing in the current market, which has seen soaring prices this year.
The plans are still in the preliminary stage. The town of Bridgeville approved the early version, Town Manager Bethany DeBussy said. From there, the developers will need to get approvals from state and county agencies, a process that can take months, then come back to the town for the final OK. She said the town doesn’t have any concerns about existing infrastructure being enough to handle the increase in residents and businesses.
The field was already zoned commercial, but DeBussy said the developers asked to rezone part of it to multi-family residential to allow for the apartments. The town approved that request.
Plans for the project have been in the works for a year or more. State records show the development LLC formed in August 2019, and in September 2020 representatives from the developers appeared before the town planning and zoning commission. DeBussy said the town notified nearby residents about the development.
The new development would sit across Route 13 from Heritage Shores, a much larger development for ages 55 plus. Heritage Shores is slated to bring nearly 2,000 new homes to the area when it is finished, according to the town’s 2018 comprehensive plan, which said at the time that 1,300 homes remained to be built. A spokesperson for Brookfield Residential, the developer for Heritage Shores, did not have updated information on the exact number of homes remaining to be built, but said Monday that the development is not near being completed.
Bridgeville’s population has shot up in the past couple decades. It had about 1,400 residents in 2000, according to the town's 2018 comprehensive plan. That has more than doubled to over 3,000 residents according to current estimates. Much of that growth, of course, is due to Heritage Shores.
The comprehensive plan states that Bridgeville “needs to facilitate housing choices that are affordable to working families, to help Bridgeville become a more complete community.” Although MacKenzie does not list prices in its brochure for the still-to-be-built apartments, some area apartments list from around $1,000 a month to $1,500 a month. A three-bedroom townhome at the next-door Linkside Village development near the Food Lion is listed at $1,295 a month.
The comprehensive plan also notes that “Bridgeville is still a small town in a rural area and does not have the 'rooftops' to drive upscale retail stores, supermarkets and restaurants. However, it does have infrastructure and assets that could attract locally based entrepreneurs and industry.”
Only several years after that comprehensive plan was released, it looks like the town may be exceeding those expectations, although how upscale the new retail will be remains to be seen.
In all, the development is slated to bring about 65,000 square feet of retail space, plus the potential hotel and gas station. For comparison, the average Walmart supercenter is about 180,000 square feet.
DeBussy called the new project exciting, with its potential to bring in more retail to town.
Langford, too, said they are definitely excited about the project. He mentioned increased tax revenue for the town, and said, “It will bring vibrance to that Bridgeville community, and I think that’s a positive thing.”