One of the most prominent shopping spaces in Rehoboth Beach set to be transformed.
The Rehoboth Avenue face of First Street Station has been leveled to make way for three new retail stores fronting the avenue. Jeff Gosnear, vice president for Grotto Pizza and property owner First Street Station LLC, said the new retail shops would all be on one floor. Gone for now are former tenants The Gallery Espresso and Maggio Shields Real Estate Brokerage and Cafe.
Gosnear said a catwalk along Rehoboth Avenue will also be demolished, but the staircase will remain to provide access to Hooters restaurant on the second level.
Gosnear said the reconfiguration is expected to increase rental revenue for the 70 Rehoboth Avenue property. He said owners First Street Station LLC can get three times as much rental revenue for stores fronting Rehoboth Avenue compared with the existing configuration. Gosnear said the changes would also make the shopping center more welcoming, maximize the space available and eliminate existing problems, such as water leaks.
Barring weather delays, Gosnear said the project is expected to be completed by the end of April. He said talks are underway with potential new tenants, and one retailer would be a clothing store.
“The demand has been high,” Gosnear said. “We want to make sure the right stores go in.
As for former tenants, The Gallery Espresso has said on its Facebook page that it plans to reopen, but no location or date have been announced.
Maggio Shields Real Estate Brokerage co-owner Joe Maggio said the company is happy with its new Route 1 location, which opened in March, and has no plans to reopen in Rehoboth. Maggio Shields parted with First Street Station on good terms and has opened a second location in the Starboard Center in Bethany Beach.
Gosnear said the new stores would offer a combined 4,500 square feet of retail space. There are no plans to renovate the Wilmington Avenue side of the building, he said.
First Street Station opened in 1996 after serving as a parking lot for Grotto Pizza, Gosnear said.
He said it took Grotto founder Dominick Pulieri 30 years to accumulate the 30,000 square feet of land between Rehoboth and Wilmington avenues, seven lots in total. Gosnear said the land was originally where the train used to stop, hence the name.
The station building once located on the site was donated by Grotto to the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce and serves as its information kiosk across from Rehoboth Beach Museum.