With construction workers deemed essential in Delaware, the University of Delaware’s FinTech building started construction in April while most projects in nearby states were shut down. The $38 million project on the school’s Science Technology and Advanced Research Campus in Newark remains on target for a November 2021 completion. University staff has been in charge of monitoring the contractors to make sure they are following the state’s health guidelines.
The six-story, 100,000 square-foot building will house labs and centers for the university’s College of Engineering and Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and the school’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships. Delaware’s Small Business Development Center will move there, and there will be space for startups, as well. The goal is for the building to be a center for financial technology and a place where students, faculty, and local entrepreneurs can collaborate.
Delaware joins New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York with stay-at-home order from the governor. The restricted movement and closure of non-essential businesses began Tuesday at 8 a.m., but construction sites will remain open.
The state’s list of essential and non-essential businesses can be found here.
There are many large development projects underway in Delaware this year. Among them is the redevelopment of a 325,000 square-foot shopping center into the College Square Williams Crossing Retail and Apartments in New Castle. The 46.10-acre property will now be the site for a mixed-use plaza with 305 residential units in two four-story apartment buildings.
Plans to renovate to the outdated retail center have been in the works for years, but the final plans were approved last March and demolition began in August. The residential units are expected to be primarily one and two bedrooms, with some three-bedroom units. The complex will also include a business center, fitness center, media room, and outdoor pool.
There will be some retail as well, with some stores, along with a coffee shop and restaurants expected. No tenants have been announced. New Castle-based developer Fusco Enterprises also plans to build a road through the center and offer some green space with a community plaza with tables and benches.
Previous renovation on the north side of the square will remain part of the new property. No timeline has been set, but Fusco attorneys have said the developer hopes to have it completed within two years.
Appoquinimink School District in Middletown, DE, has a big vision for its future. With an expected rise in student population, the district just opened a new elementary school in the district for this school year and has plans for five new schools and an early childhood center over the next five years.
Leading into the referendum vote, the district has an RFQ for Construction Management Services, which would entail review of design, value engineering, developing a construction schedule for a project that includes HVAC improvements, a new elementary school, a new kindergarten center, roof replacement and turf field renovations at one high school, a middle school stadium and multiple fields.
Delaware legislature adjourned its session on July 1 after allocating nearly $900 million for the state’s construction projects in the coming fiscal year.
The lawmakers approved $863 million budget for major road, school and other construction projects as they wrapped up the session and headed into their summer recess. The bill is a substantial increase, not only over funding from the previous fiscal year but from Governor John Carney’s January proposed amount of about $678 million.
The bill earmarks $425 million for transportation projects (up from $368) and $437 million in non-transportation construction spending, including maintenance, technology, equipment, economic development, and environmental projects, according to the Associated Press (down $10 million). The additional funds on top of the governor’s proposed budgets were available because revenue projections are significantly higher than they were last June, the AP story said
Another bill with implications on the industry will have to wait for the next session. Senate Bill 95 sought to change the definition of “independent contractor,” which would then require workers to pay taxes through a social security number. Currently, they can use an Independent Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to file and changing that would mean workers who are undocumented immigrants who can’t get social security cards could not work—and contractors who need workers might not be able to find enough.
The senator who sponsored the bill told WBOC, the intention was to regulate the way contractors treat their employees. Upon hearing from those concerned about the ramifications of such a law on undocumented immigrants, he and his fellow lawmakers proposed a change in the language in the bill that would allow workers to use an ITIN to register with the department of labor and not reveal their immigration status.
Like its larger Northeast neighbors Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Delaware is also in need of vital infrastructure and transportation improvements and Governor John Carney addressed those issues in his proposed budget for 2020. Carney’s plan for the next fiscal year includes a Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund that has $10 million allocated “to improve public infrastructure to support job-creating economic development projects” and a Capital Transportation Plan that designates $3.2 billion through 2025 to “modernize Delaware’s transportation system.”
Delaware took a step toward getting some of that needed construction funded last month when Carney and NJ governor Phil Murphy announced new toll rates at the Delaware Memorial Bridge (DMB) that will fund safety and infrastructure projects by the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA). With the additional revenue, the DRBA now has the resources to fund capital projects planned at Delaware Memorial Bridge including the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Bridge Paint Removal and Recoating ($48.2 million); Suspension Rope Replacement ($24.5 million); Bridge Steelwork Repairs ($40.5 million); Pin and Link Rehabilitation on Both Structures of DMB ($19.7 million); Ship Collision Protection System ($45.2 million); Bridge Deck Repair ($21.5 million); Transfer Bridge Repairs at the Cape May–Lewes Ferry ($4.3 million); and Ferry Repowering Program ($9.5 million).