Wilmington and Washington D.C.-based developer The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc. (BPG), has purchased the historic DuPont Building and Hotel du Pont, a 950,000 sq. ft. mixed-use complex, from The Chemours Company (NYSE:CC), who has agreed to lease back office space for 17 years. CBRE acted as an advisor to Chemours on the sale.
This 950,000 sq. ft. 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, built in the Italian Renaissance style, and debuted in 1913 as a showcase hotel, rivalling even the finest hotels and restaurants of Europe and New York City. 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 most importantly, 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,” says Chris Buccini, Co-President of The Buccini/Pollin Group, who has purchased more than 40 properties in Downtown Wilmington, including two former DuPont headquarter buildings that they repositioned into multi-tenanted 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 complete project that BPG has planned for the property includes the preservation of The Hotel du Pont and its signature Green Room restaurant, which were recently awarded Four Diamond status for 2017. BPG’s affiliate PM Hotel Group, an award-winning operator of more than 40 upscale, lifestyle, luxury, and independent hotels across the United States, will manage the hotel, ensuring that it retains its historic elegance, world-class service and intense focus on modern technology. The 1200-seat Playhouse on Rodney Square will remain in operation as Delaware’s premier source of Broadway touring theater, with a new entrance from Tenth Street.
The first phase of modernization will involve turning 256,000 sq. ft. 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,” says Mark Vergnano, CEO of Chemours. “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 sq. ft. of leasable multi-tenant office space remaining.
One way that BPG is look to enhance the already existing mixed-use strengths of the property is by adding approximately 180 luxury multifamily units, bringing the “stay” concept that has always existed at the building to the 21st century. The residential portion of the building will have its own dedicated lobby entrance on Tenth Street and will feature shared services and amenities provided by Hotel du Pont, a privilege that can only be unique to this property. Co-President of The Buccini/Pollin Group, Rob Buccini explains, “There really is no other mixed use project in the Mid-Atlantic like this. 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 sq. ft. 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,” said Nick Lambrow, President of M&T Bank’s Delaware region. “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.”