By Wills Elliman
Amazon’s choice to diversify its HQ2 project into two locations in Long Island City and Crystal City, Virginia, could yield unanticipated windfall benefits for Delaware in general and Wilmington in particular.
Employees of Amazon who need to split time between their two new HQs can live in Wilmington for much less money than either Long Island City or Crystal City.
The beauty of Wilmington is that it is right between the Amazon HQ2 locations. Google puts the drive time from Wilmington to Long Island City at 2 hours, 29 minutes (127 miles) and to Crystal City at 2 hours, 9 minutes (118 miles). Mass transit also puts Wilmington within striking distance of both sites, with the Acela/subway taking 2 hours, 9 minutes to Long Island City and Acela/Metro 2 hours, 7 minutes to Crystal City.
Wilmington is hip and happening, evidenced be five new restaurants on North Market Street alone since January: Margaux, Stitch House, Bardea, Farmer & the Cow and 218 Grille.
There has been a sharp increase in multi-family developments in recent years, with two notable high-quality multi-family developments that came online this year.
Buccini/Pollin calls their Residences at MidTown an Urban Oasis. The project, which opened in August, has 200 units in two buildings including a nine-story high-rise tower and four-story mid-rise building. The mid-rise has a resort-style swimming pool, fitness center, demonstration kitchen and screening room.
Capano opened its Christina Riverfront project this spring at 101 Avenue of the Arts, which features open floor plans with high ceilings, wood plank flooring, quartz counters, Italian melamine cabinetry, stainless steel appliances and tiled baths. Residents can enjoy the Multimedia Clubroom Lounge with billiards table, state-of-the-art fitness club and library.
The Wilmington Waterfront has become a desirable destination, with two hotels currently under construction: Homewood Suites and Hyatt Place. Both are near the almost-new Westin and the Chase Center. Riverfront amenities include Banks Seafood, Iron Hill and Big Fish Grill, as well as the Delaware Children’s Museum and an IMAX theater.
Rents are below prices in Center City Philadelphia and well below prices in New York City or Washington, D.C. Currently the asking rent for a Class A two-bedroom high-rise/mid-rise unit in downtown Wilmington is around $1,450. Compare that to $4,440 for similar type units in Long Island City, and $2,930 for Arlington, Virginia. Housing prices face a similar discrepancy. In Wilmington, the median listing home price is $214,900 with the median price per square foot of $131. In Long Island City, that median home price is $995,000, with a median price per square foot of $1,100, while in Arlington the price is $599,900 with a median price per square foot of $406. While not all of the amenities may be directly comparable, Wilmington remains an affordable and desirable residential city almost directly between these two new Amazon hubs. Employees active in both locations could do a lot worse than choose to live in Wilmington, and could hardly do better.
Wills Elliman is the senior marketing director of Newmark Knight Frank.