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Five Signs that Delaware is Open for Business

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Business-friendly Delaware may have fewer residents than registered corporations (which is why we can't get a decent game of pickup basketball going), but it also has the real estate numbers to justify its clout. That's why we're excited to host our 2nd annual Delaware State of the Market June 19 at Chase Center in Wilmington.

CBRE SVP John Kaczowka, who'll be speaking at the event (seen here with wife Jamie and their four kids—remember back when sweaters were all the rage, like, six months ago?), tells us why commercial real estate is a big commodity.

1) JPMorgan Loves Real Estate

In the past year alone, JPMorgan Chase has gobbled up over 1M SF of property in the state—a surprising but welcome move, John says. The big purchases include One & Three Christiana Center in downtown Wilmington (633k, pictured below), the AstraZeneca South Campus on Powder Mill Road (357k), and Cole House at the Iron Hill Corporate Center in Newark (98k). John says that Delaware’s strong infrastructure and educated workforce attract banks; they also like the proximity to NYC at half the cost of doing business.

2) Shoppers Keep Flocking to Christiana

Developments of up to 750k SF in new retail are underway at (and just next to) Delaware’s biggest mall. Allied Retail Properties is reportedly planning its Christiana Fashion Center to open 200k SF next spring, with Nordstrom Rack announced as the first tenant. Meanwhile, General Growth Properties just brought Cabela's to Christiana Mall, and a Cinemark Theater is on the way. When you’re a mecca for tax-free shopping, you’d better go big.

3) Wilmington’s Riverfront is Alive

It took many years of planning and state and city support, but the riverfront area boasts a super mix of attractions for workers, visitors, and residents old and new. Buccini/Pollin Group is one of the river’s big boosters, opening the 4-star, 180-room Westin Wilmington in April. BPG also developed Penn Cinema IMAX on Madison Street (X-Men fans are incredibly grateful) and are continuing with the 115-unit Residences at Justison Landing (rendered, above) And it helps having transit options made possible by Wilmington’s Amtrak station nearby, and plenty of free parking.

4) An Adaptable Office Market

Near the riverfront, Wilmington’s office buildings have taken a definitive shift from single-occupier (like Barclay’s and AAA) to mixed-tenant. (It livens up the water cooler chatter.) Overall, John says densification is the new norm, with companies seeking space to accommodate up to seven vehicles per 1,000 SF. DuPont typifies modern trends in its two new buildings at Chestnut Run Plaza, totaling 390K SF, offering open floor plans and a tremendous amount of natural light. Delaware companies are also seeing a rise in consultant hires, which creates a need for new office and lodging space to accommodate extended stays.

5) Spinoffs and a Flight to Quality

Cigna’s move to Bellevue Park Corporate Center in 2011 was a move to high-profile real estate. Bellevue Park’s desirability is made clear by its 99% occupancy, and roster of household tenants like Blackrock, BNY Mellon, Interdigital and MasterCard. BPG purchased the 306k SF complex in February for $61.5M, and John’s team is repping them as exclusive leasing agent. Established companies' restructuring and spinning off new companies are another trend changing the market, of which Navient’s split from Sallie Mae and relo to Wilmington's riverfront is but one recent example.