Student Housing: Campus Edge will be an asset to city

By Doug Rainey for Newark Post

Last week, the Newark Planning Commission voted by a 4-3 margin to recommended the proposed Campus Edge project. The multi-million dollar student housing and retail project is proposed for a site on Delaware Avenue adjacent to the TD Bank branch. It should be noted that developers plan to configure the apartments so the units could one day be converted to non-student uses.

To no one’s surprise, the discussion focused on the scale of the four-story project and details related to parking for the complex that would be adjacent to Trader’s Alley, a small retail complex off Main Street that often has no parking available. Commission members, including Vice Chairman Ralph Begleiter, had ideas of their own on how the project should be configured.

Over the years, there has been a considerable amount of discomfort over the fact that Newark seems to be getting more mid-rise projects that, according to critics, change the small town feel of the city. Those attitudes were clearly in evidence when it came to the University of Delaware Bookstore, now under construction on Main Street.

The fact of the matter is that for owners to make the numbers work, more than a couple of stories are necessary. When developers step forward and come up with a design that goes beyond the fortress-like appearance of many mixed-use complexes in the city, it is a cause for celebration.

The Delaware Avenue site, like the bookstore tract, presents similar challenges, but based on the renderings and presentations at the meeting Campus Edge has a great deal going for it, starting with the architecture, which obviously draws inspiration from the University of Delaware. The project would clearly be an asset to the Delaware Avenue area.

In the next few weeks, some tweaking will go on and if something resembling the plans presented last week emerges, it will richly deserve to be approved by City Council. This is an interesting and potentially exciting way to redevelop an area that otherwise is likely to fall victim to one more look-alike rental complex.

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