Plans for a major regional shopping center along Route 1 just north of Lewes have resurfaced on Sussex County officials' agendas.
Overbrook Towne Center – reviewed by state planners in late 2012 – includes nearly 800,000 square feet of retail space, six pad sites of nearly 60,000 square feet and more than 5,000 parking spaces. If approved, the developer would be required to fund most if not all of the construction of a multi-million Route 1 overpass at the entrance opposite Cave Neck Road.
Developer TD Rehoboth LLC has applied to the county for a change in zoning from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to CR-1, commercial-residential, for a 114-acre parcel on farmland across from the Cave Neck Road-Route 1 intersection.
The developer – based in Timonium, Md. – says at build out, the center would provide as many as 1,400 full- and part-time jobs. The center would be the largest retail complex in Sussex County, nearly 293,000 more square feet than all of the Tanger outlets combined.
The first public hearing on the application is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 26, before the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission. The public hearing before county council is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19.
Both hearings take place in the county administration building on The Circle in Georgetown. A file of public records submitted so far is available at the county's planning and zoning office.
State transportation officials have reviewed the plans and met with the developer. Their top recommendation is construction of a grade-separation overpass and not a traffic signal at the intersection of Cave Neck Road and Route 1. Cave Neck Road would be accessed via the overpass from the southbound lanes of Route 1. Crossovers at Cave Neck Road and Red Fox Run would be removed.
“The developer will have to contribute heavily to the grade-separation, which also benefits those who use Route 1,” said Mark Cote, DelDOT's assistant director for development coordination.
Delaware Department of Transportation officials have scheduled a series of grade-separation projects along Route 1 as part of the state's Corridor Capacity Preservation Program. Felice said the program would eventually convert all traffic signal intersections to interchanges to reduce conflict points on Route 1, Route 113 and Route 13. “It promotes smart growth,” he said.
“Each developer wants their own traffic signal. Eventually Route 1 becomes degraded,” Cote said.
The Cave Neck-Route 1 intersection was not scheduled as a high-priority project, but will become a priority if the shopping center project is approved. According to DelDOT records, the developer is prepared to pay as much as $8 million for road improvements. The cost of the transportation upgrades may exceed what the developer is proposing to spend, said Tom Felice, a DelDOT transportation engineer. “In that case we will look for federal and state matching grants,” he said.
DelDOT has agreed to allow a temporary traffic signal at the Cave Neck intersection – paid for by the developer – if needed in order not to hold up construction.
During the state agency review of the proposed shopping center, DelDOT officials required the developer to conduct a traffic impact study to determine the effect of the center on 15 intersections in the area. According to county records, the study used data from 2013 summer traffic counts.
The developer has proposed two access points to the complex – one across from Cave Neck Road and a second at the north boundary of the property across from Red Fox Lane.
Red Fox Run residents will meet prior to the first public hearing to share information about the project.
The conceptual drawing of the complex includes 16 buildings ranging in size from 126,000 square feet to 11,000 square feet with six pad sites of various sizes along the boundary with Route 1.
Preliminary plans call for wastewater to be pumped and treated at the Milton sewage treatment plant. An alternative would be to hook into the Sussex County central system, but because of capacity issues, upgrades to the West Rehoboth wastewater treatment plant would be required.