Wilmington, Del., and Washington D.C.-based developer The Buccini/Pollin Group, purchased the historic DuPont Building and Hotel du Pont, a 950,000-square-foot mixed-use complex in Wilmington from The Chemours Company, which has agreed to lease back office space for 17 years. CBRE acted as an advisor to Chemours on the sale.
This 950,000-square-foot, mixed-use complex that takes up an entire city block facing the historic Rodney Square at the center of Wilmington is an original embodiment of the work/play/stay concept that now anchors the urban redevelopment of today’s U.S. cities. The DuPont Building dates back to 1908 as one of the first high-rises built in Wilmington, built to house DuPont headquarters, and is still considered the largest mixed-use building in the state of Delaware. Soon after the hotel was commissioned by Pierre S. DuPont, it was built in the Italian Renaissance style and debuted in 1913 as a showcase hotel. In 1918 the DuPont Theatre, now known as the Playhouse on Rodney Square, was built to bring class-act Broadway theater to town. This blend of functions, executed with the utmost taste and style, is what made the DuPont building the place to be in downtown Wilmington, and the anchor of historic Market Street.
“The purchase of the DuPont Building and its assets couldn’t make any more sense to us right now,” Chris Buccini, co-president of The Buccini/Pollin Group, said in a statement. The group purchased more than 40 properties in Downtown Wilmington, including two former DuPont headquarter buildings that they repositioned into multitenanted mixed-use buildings. “There is no better way to coalesce our long-running vision for a vibrant downtown where people come together to live, work and play, than to take on the DuPont Building and re-envision it as a modern version of what it has always been, a lifestyle center for the City of Wilmington.”
The $175-million project that BPG planns for the property includes the preservation of The Hotel du Pont and its signature Green Room restaurant, which were awarded Four Diamond status for 2017. BPG’s affiliate PM Hotel Group, an operator of more than 40 upscale, lifestyle, luxury and independent hotels across the United States, will manage the hotel. The 1,200-seat Playhouse on Rodney Square will remain in operation, with a new entrance from Tenth Street.
The first phase of modernization will involve turning 256,000 square feet of existing office space into the modern, open plan headquarters space for Chemours, with a dedicated entrance lobby on Market Street across from historic Rodney Square. "Staying in this historic building is an entirely appropriate acknowledgment of our legacy,” Mark Vergnano, CEO of Chemours, said in a statement. “And just as we have been transforming Chemours into a world-class chemistry company, now working closely with BPG, we will transform our office space into a modern, world-class work environment." After the Chemours renovation there will be only 60,000 square feet of leasable multitenant office space remaining.
BPG is also adding approximately 180 luxury multifamily units to the property. The residential portion of the building will have its own dedicated lobby entrance on 10th Street and will offer shared services and amenities provided by Hotel du Pont. “There really is no other mixed use project in the Mid-Atlantic like this," Rob Buccini, co-president of the Buccini/Pollin Group, said in a statement. "Adding the multi-family component and the exciting enhancement of the ground floor retail is what will transition an already vibrant asset into an 18-hour urban center in this new era of amenity-based downtown living and working.”
BPG plans to reclaim the ground floor, pedestrian-accessed portion of the building, and reposition it as an exciting retail and dining center, including the complete replacement of the darkly tinted glazing with clear and approachable windows. The retail space, totaling 40,000 square feet on the ground floor, will continue to include the M&T Bank retail branch at 10th & Market. M&T Bank is also assisting with the construction financing for the project. "We are encouraged to see this level of reinvestment in downtown Wilmington," Nick Lambrow, president of M&T Bank's Delaware region, said in a statement. "A vibrant city center is a catalyst for a healthy, thriving region, and this project will preserve and enhance one of Wilmington's most iconic properties."
The new retail plan will be anchored at the opposite corner of 10th and Orange streets, an innovative and unique food hall, featuring multiple restaurateurs and cuisine styles open to the public. “We are enthusiastic about this food hall concept,” Buccini said. ”The food hall will be a community hub for people living and working in and around the building on a daily basis, and provide an affordable dining experience that will create a balance with the unmatchable fine dining experience that the Green Room has to offer. We will really have the full spectrum of dining options here, and can focus on leasing the remaining 20,000 square feet of retail."
The property's 100 full-time associates of the hotel will be retained, and that the 100 current contract associates will become permanent employees, “This acquisition not only cements BPG’s footprint as one of the largest developers, operators and owners in the Mid-Atlantic region, but establishes BPG as the largest locally owned employer in the City of Wilmington,” Buccini said. “We welcome our newest associates to the BPG team, where we are proud to be consistently voted as one of Delaware's top places to work.”