Three new builds on Limestone Road stretch

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Construction at Traditions at Pike Creek Ryan Homes is building 76 garage townhouses.

By Kathy Canavan

There are signs of new construction among the string of “office for rent” signs along Limestone Road in Pike Creek. 
A new church, a townhouse community and a no-entrance-fee retirement community are in the works between Kirkwood Highway and Paper Mill Road.

Ryan Homes is building 76 garage townhouses at Traditions at Pike Creek at Limestone and Paper Mill Roads. Close to 40  have already been sold, including two sold to families who wanted them specifically so their children would have a Red Clay School District address when they apply to The Charter School of Wilmington, the state’s math-and-science magnet school that gives preference to Red Clay students.

St. Philip’s Lutheran Church is moving from its 10,000-square -foot building at 4501 Kirkwood Hwy. and planning a new 16,000-square-foot church at Limestone Road and Ferris Drive.

Vantage Point Retirement Living , a Chester County retirement-housing developer, is building the first new-construction, full-spectrum retirement community in Hockessin in two decades — 92 independent-living units, 41 assisted-living units and 52 memory-care apartments on land a previous owner had rezoned for retirement housing.

Previous traffic studies show 36,834 cars per day pass by the townhouse and retirement community sites, and 26,739 pass by the church site, according to the Delaware Department of Transportation. No traffic study was required because none of the developments attract enough cars at peak hours to warrant a study, according to New Castle County Planner Owen Robatino and Bill Brockenbrough, county coordinator fo Deldot’s Division of Planning.

Vantage Point already built and sold two retirement communities in North Wilmington – Carillon Crossing and Rockland Place. “We kind of jumped
at the chance to get back into the area,” said Kate Sammler, the company’s marketing manager.

“We like the whole southern Pennsylvania-Delaware-Maryland corridor,” said company President Gregory M. Stevens. “We’re looking to create a strong presence in that area. The demographics are very strong in that over-70 age market. There really hasn’t been any new construction of a full-service, multi-level retirement community in the Hockessin area in over 20 years, so we think the demand far outstrips the supply, particularly for memory care.”

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Traditions at Pike Creek featuring partial stone fronts.

Stevens said his target renter for The Summit is 70 or older, middle income and up. The rental community will feature a doctor’s office, rehabilitation suite, full-service salon, game room, dining-service options, housekeeping, media room, pub, café, and business center. It will offer activities, 24-hour staff presence and local transportation, and most utilities are included. The fees start at $3,750 a month for independent living and rise to $7,000 for the most expensive memory-care unit.

“We’ve been doing retirement living for a long time and we think that the industry is changing away from the traditional entrance-fee model,” Stevens said. “There are major financial benefits to doing rental only. One, obviously, is not having to put up $200,000 to $400,000 upfront. Our people can keep that money and try to invest it and I think they’ll come out way ahead. Another is flexibility. We offer 12-month leases. After 12 months, you only need to give us 60 days notice to leave.”

Independent-living units rent fees are $3,750 to $5,000 monthly, depending on which of 20 floor plans renters choose.  Assisted living apartments with 24-hour nursing care run $4,900 to $6,900 a month, depending on which of eight floor plans are chosen. Memory-care apartments run from $6,700 to $7,000 monthly.

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Rev. Patrick V. Downes

The 227,000-square-foot facility being constructed with some items reclaimed from Hockessin buildings to incorporate the area’s history.

Traditions at Pike Creek, a community of three-bedroom townhouses featuring partial stone fronts, is Ryan Homes’ 15th development in Delaware. Pulte Homes originally planned a townhouse development at the site. When Pulte pulled out, Ryan planned a community of two-and-three-story townhouses with 3 bedrooms 2.5 baths, finished basements and two-car garages.

“There’s such a demand up here for new construction. My competition is housing that’s 20 to 30 years old,” said sales agent Deborah Hunter. “It’s a great school district and it’s near the banks and companies and major work centers.”

Hunter said the Red Clay School District is a major draw, especially The Charter School of Wilmington. “People buy here just to get their kids in there.”

The prices start at $319,990; the average sale is $365,000, Hunter said. Traditions opened its model home in September.

The Rev. Patrick V. Downes, pastor of St. Philip’s Lutheran Church, said his church is growing and the congregation’s needs are different than they were when the current church was built so they are moving to accommodate the current needs.

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Company president Gregory M. Stevens at Vantage Point’s The Summit.

“We’re landlocked and we’ve just growing to a point that we want to meet the needs of a 21st Century congregation and we need a facility designed for that, rather than one that was designed with kind of a 1955 mindset,” he said.

The new church will have no pews, just chairs that can be reconfigured to accommodate community meetings or any church need. There will be a large entryway to welcome worshippers to services and accommodate them after.

Downes hopes churchgoers can relax with a cup of warm coffee and enjoy some conversation while their children play together.

The new building will be one where members can use their phones to scan a barcode and download the church bulletin information and music on their phones or iPads. Hymnals? “Probably not,” Downes said.

Seating will grow from about 130 to 200, but it will be flexible because everything inside the new building will be movable. The church will use chairs, which can be reconfigured for community meetings if needed. Even the chancel – the altar area – will be moveable. 

Currently, the church’s social hall can accommodate fewer than 50 people. In the new church, it will be large enough to play volleyball, Downes said.

Downes expects to break ground for the church at Limestone Road and Ferris Drive by March and have the construction completed in a year or less.

He said the condition of his current church, its commercial zoning and its location next to a strip shopping center leads him to believe it will be demolished. “This church building sits on commercial property and it’s so worn on the inside and has so many problems that it’s got to be cheaper to tear it down,” he said.

He said the congregation would remove some pieces of the building that are important to the church’s history and move them to the new location.

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