New center off Route 1 to offer retail, housing

Coastal Station, near Rehoboth,features 96 residential units
August 12, 2017

Story Location:
19791 Coastal Highway
Rehoboth Beach  Delaware
United States

Plans for Phase 2 of Coastal Station call for 96 apartments and 36,000 square feet of retail space at the former Tomato Sunshine location on Route 1.

The public got its first view of the proposed project, along Holland Glade Road near Rehoboth Beach, during the Aug. 7 Sussex County Board of Adjustment meeting.

Coastal Station Development Corp. LLC is seeking a special-use exception for multifamily housing and structures of mixed commercial and residential use and a variance from the building length of a multifamily building.

The phase would include three, 3-story buildings on a 5-acre parcel, which would be connected to Phase 1 of the project. Phase I is a Royal Farms convenience store and Iron Hill Brewery, which are already under construction on a 10-acre parcel along Route 1.

The retail section of Phase 2 would be located on the first floor of the buildings and the apartments would be on the second and third floors. All three buildings would be connected by sky bridges, said the applicant's attorney John Tracey.

In addition, Tracey said, plans include a connection to nearby Junction Breakwater Trail as well as a multi-use path and sidewalk along Holland Glade Road to connect to Epworth United Methodist Church.

Because Phase 2 is projected to generate about 4,000 daily vehicular trips, a transportation impact study is required; the study is underway.

Sussex County Director of Planning and Zoning Janelle Cornwell said her office had received 86 letters in opposition to the application.

The proposed project is split into two different zoning districts – C-1 and CR-1 – which have different regulations for multifamily housing and building size.

Tracey said the mixed-used project is in compliance with the county’s comprehensive land-use plan and would result in less traffic than other commercial uses.

Limits on building length

Tracey said there are no limits on the length of strictly commercial buildings, but county code places a limit of 165 feet on mixed-use buildings. He said many commercial buildings in the area range from 300 to 500 feet in length.

He said under county code, the Phase 2 mixed-use buildings are considered one building even though they will have different architectural styles and be connected by pedestrian skywalks. “We are asking for a design waiver to design and cluster the building in the center of the lot,” he said. “It won't appear to be one building; there are gaps. Elements will break it up and it will not be one flat side.”

In order to build the project as designed, one building would need a variance of 195 feet and another would need a variance of 250 feet.

Traffic signal could be part of plan

Tracey said the developer is in support of a new traffic signal at the Holland Glade-Route 1 intersection. State transportation officials have final say on the addition of a signal.

Motorists driving south on Route 1 need to make a U-turn at Shuttle Road to access Holland Glade Road. Tracey said with a traffic signal, motorists would be able to turn left off Route 1 onto Holland Glade Road, instead of making U-turns. In addition, he said, motorists would have two lanes to make right turns onto Route 1 from Holland Glade Road to go north on Route 1.

“This would make the traffic situation in the area better,” he said.

Tracey said other developers may have contributed to a signal project in the past and others may have to contribute funding in the future. “But we are taking the lead,” he said.

Residents question density, traffic

“We are being smothered. You need to be watching the density in this area,” said John Still, a former state legislator who lives in The Glade off Holland Glade Road. “Your decision is whether mixed use is the best use of this land.”

Still – a spokesman for area residents – said maximum density is not in the best interest of the surrounding area. “The board should no longer grant maximum development variances in this high-density area and wait for a revised comprehensive plan. Stick to minimum density developments whenever possible,” he said. “We are being flooded with in-fill and at some point, the capacity issues, wellhead protections and other traffic issues will continue to overwhelm us even more.”

Still said a traffic signal would not solve the traffic issues in the immediate area of the proposed project. “If the only solution is to put in a traffic signal, we are in trouble,” he said.

“I'm excited about potential new church members, but I have no idea how we will share Holland Glade Road,” said the Rev. Victoria Starnes of nearby Epworth U.M. Church.

She said the church has become a community center generating traffic as home of a skate park and base for a Boys and Girls Club, pre-school, concerts, a weekly soup kitchen and special events. She said a traffic signal at the Holland Glade Road-Route 1 intersection would help. “But is that a given? How do we make that happen?” she asked.

Board member Norman “Bud” Rickard said residents don't understand that other commercial development on the property could have even more impact. “This is very valuable property,” he said.

The board tabled the application to be included on a future agenda.