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Claymont residents get first look at steel mill redevelopment plan

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Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media
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Claymont residents got their first good look at plans to redevelop the shuttered Evraz steel mill.

A standing room only crowd of about 300 people showed up for a public meeting on Commercial Development Corporation’s (CDC) designs for the 425-acre site.

The First State Crossing proposal calls for an office park, a manufacturing and warehouse center, a new commuter rail station, and a port, rail and trucking hub.

A number of questions centered on the hub, specifically the port portion’s ability to comply with Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act.

CDC’s executive vice president of commercial development Stephen Collins says his company is aware of that hurdle, but says a study of demand for the facility will come before anything else.

“We think there may be a good logistics use as we described, but we have to do a market study and test the market," said Collins. "Then, if we find significant demand, we’ll work with the public officials to find out to what extend we can make accommodations for that.”

Collins also fielded questions about the type of jobs the project could produce.  He says the site holds great potential.

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Credit Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media
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About 300 people showed up for a public meeting on plans to redevelop the Evraz Claymont Steel mill.

“The figure we used on the employment center, which is the 100 acres in the middle [of the site] was 600 jobs. I think that’s a conservative estimate.  If you look at the office buildings, if they do 6,000 square feet of office, that could be several thousand.  If the logistics center is developed to the full extent showed there, that could be several thousand jobs," said Collins. " So, we’re saying, all built out – which is obviously going to take 20 years or more – you could se 5,000 jobs.”

But before anything is built demolition and remediation must be completed and that’s expected to take around 18 more months.

In the interim - Collins says he wants people to know what’s going on.

“We want to create what we think is the highest and best use of the property – and we also want to get public buy-in and support," said Collins.

Gov. Jack Markell (D-Delaware) and New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon (D) were among the public officials on hand offering their support for the project.

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