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mglan80 Sep 22, 2005 12:55 AM

WILMINGTON | WSFS Bank Center | 70 M / 230 FT | COM
Construction actually started in early August (site clearing and prep), but there really wasn't anything to show photo-wise. Anyway, the offical "Pile Driving" ceremony (since the ground was already broken) was held on Tuesday, September 20, 2005. The building will be approximately 350,000 sq. ft., with a 5 story garage in the rear and 15 floors of office. There will be retail on the ground floor fronting Delaware Avenue and Washington Street.

The building is a joint venture between Buccini/Pollin Group (51%) and WSFS Bank (49%). WSFS Bank will take the 12th and 11th floors and move their headquarters from their current 838 Market Street location, as well as place their letters on roof. The USPS will move their downtown location to the building from the basement of the Wilmington Trust Company headquarters (originally the Wilmington Post Office). As of 9/21/05, the building is approximately 50% leased.

Architect: Gensler
Developer: Buccini/Pollin Group
Roof: 70.1 m
Floor Count: 15
Floor Area: 106,680 m²
Elevator Count: 4

The rendering:

Site photos to follow...

FlyersFan118 Sep 22, 2005 3:29 AM

I likey. That'll look sweet.

mglan80 Sep 23, 2005 9:39 PM

WSFS Building Gets Under Way
$90 Million Office Tower to Rise in Wilmington's Western Gateway


When it comes to real estate development kickoffs, Tuesday's groundbreaking in downtown Wilmington felt so '80s.

There was the tent with the buffet spread, the collection of movers and shakers in dark suits and the usual back-slapping associated with a new development. These festive occasions were regular events in the 1980s after the state passed the Financial Center Development Act and the real estate community scrambled to house the dozens of out-of-state banks that migrated to the state.

But in recent years some ceremonies have seemed pale imitations of the go-go 1980s. Not so Tuesday, when 170 people gathered at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Jefferson Street to celebrate the construction of the central business district's first multitenant office tower in more than a decade.

"It's the best [groundbreaking] we've had in 20 years," said Leigh Johnstone, senior vice president of Grubb & Ellis in Wilmington. "It was reminiscent of the early 1980s when this was a boomtown for construction."

The new $90 million office building, to be called the WSFS Bank Center, is being developed by Buccini/Pollin Group Inc. of Wilmington. The company, which also is building town houses, condominiums and apartment buildings on the Christina River, has been one of the most active developers in the city in the past five years.

Not only is the 15-story tower a symbol to the real estate community that the city is ready for new construction, the building will fill a gap in what is considered the western gateway to the city, real estate experts and economic development officials said.

Three years ago, the Delaware Avenue boulevard from I-95 was beginning to look a little down-at-the-heels, with the former Chase Manhattan Bank building a looming vacant presence on the highway. ING Direct, the country's fourth-largest savings bank, began the revival of the western gateway in 2004 when it moved into the empty building, constructed in the mid-1980s. ING invested about $15 million to renovate the 14-story building at 802 Delaware Ave.

What's more, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, the state's largest health insurance company, has been in negotiations with a real estate developer for a space next to ING Direct on Delaware Avenue.

Richard V. Pryor, the city's economic development director, said negotiations with Blue Cross Blue Shield are "at the one-foot line" for newly-constructed office space at 800 Delaware Ave. It would be developed by Delle Donne & Associates Inc. of Claymont. A decision is expected in mid-October, Pryor said.

"This city is doing better than any city in the region," Mayor James M. Baker told the crowd. "This city's coming back."

The WSFS Bank Center is now 50 percent pre-leased, according to Robert Buccini, a partner in Buccini/Pollin. WSFS announced in June it will be a major tenant, as well as a minority owner, of the 371,222-square-foot tower. WSFS plans to move its corporate headquarters from its current location on North Market Street.

Earlier this year, Morris, James, Hitchens & Williams agreed to take 40,000 to 60,000 square feet of space on the building's top three floors.

David H. Williams, managing partner of Morris, James, said it's exciting for the firm to be part of the development of the city's newest office tower. The firm expects to move into the building when it is completed in the fall of 2006.

"I think it will energize the firm," he said.

mglan80 Oct 5, 2005 2:16 AM

A couple of photos I took last weekend. You really can't see much from ground level. I'll take some from the top of the garage in the second photo below sometime relatively soon.

The auger has been on the site since late August. I assume drilling holes for caissions. There were also two concrete trucks there. I guess they were pouring the pilings?

Joey D Oct 6, 2005 8:02 PM

Nice Goin MGlan... I'm sure you'll be on top of this one!

mglan80 Oct 10, 2005 3:33 PM

Buccini Pollin's site has added a PDF file and a couple of rendering of the WSFS Bank Center project. I can't save the PDF target, so you'll have to go the site.

Joey D Oct 11, 2005 2:51 AM

Looks nice, I just wish they would get away from that blocky style.

Spire, please, somebody?? Maybe?

mglan80 Dec 4, 2005 11:27 PM

An update for the WSFS Bank Center. A boom crane was setup on the site on Saturday (12/3) afternoon. They were unloading steel today. I wonder if they will use a tower crane for this one? The boom crane they have looks tall enough to handle the job, but it doesn't seem very practical since it has to manoeuver around the site. Anyway, here's a few shots from the garage across the street, plus one from 10th Street:

Joey D Dec 5, 2005 5:12 AM

Hmm I'm wondering, now... is there going to be a basement level on this building? I can't say I've seen anything but ground leveling for the past few months.

Is this project coming along slowly, or is it just me?

James Bond Agent 007 Dec 5, 2005 6:32 AM

It's not big, but it looks like it'll fit nice into Wilmington's skyline.

Phillydude Dec 5, 2005 3:15 PM

I wish Wilmington would get at least 1 butt-kicking skyscraper, like around 400/430 feet. Chase Manhattan is alright but just one 400-footer would be cool.

mglan80 Dec 6, 2005 2:16 AM

I think the massing is pretty good, but 5 more floors would have made it a little more striking.

I think we'll have to wait another 20 years for 400'. The only hope is residential, and even then...

Joe, there isn't really a need to go subterranean, and there certainly isn't any zoning requirement to. Also, there's probably bedrock not too far under that dirt, which is probably why they didn't drive steel piles. Kelvin?

Also, the project only broke ground in late August. Three months to finish the foundation is really fast. But hey, it's all up from here on out.

mglan80 Dec 9, 2005 2:10 AM

New site for the building. As always, BPG impresses. The street level renderings are enough to make you smile.

It's still fun to think I'll be working on the 12th floor in January 2007. Also, from what I understand, the USPS will have its own HVAC and be completely self-contained. For security and safety reasons I suppose.

Joey D Dec 9, 2005 3:23 AM

INCREDIBLE Flash presentation.. Breathtakingly real.

I'm getting excited, now.

mglan80 Dec 11, 2005 3:57 AM

I noticed today that they have two floors of steel up already! I don't think they'll use a tower crane because they are going to construct the building first, then the garage in the rear. It'll let them use the full length of the site and not obstruct the street (the building is fairly narrow). Also, there is protective scaffolding up along Delaware Ave. Wow, just like a real city construction site.

I'll probably take some shots tomorrow afternoon. Better get on it, this one will go up quick.

mglan80 Dec 11, 2005 10:22 PM

A few new photos to look at:

That garage is a great place to take photos. I only wish Chase Manhattan Center was another 60' or 70' to make it a bigger presence.

Still need another ~150,000 sq. ft. to lease up, though.

volguus zildrohar Dec 11, 2005 10:33 PM

Steel rises in Wilmington too!

zerokarma Dec 11, 2005 11:04 PM

I think that will look pretty nice once finished, should fit in nicely there.

mglan80 Jan 8, 2006 8:16 PM

Fifth floor already!

The grade beams can be seen for the annex building that will house a breakfast/lunch spot.

[Edit: ^Sorry about the tilt, it's not easy shooting a level photo on a parking ramp.]

Joey D Jan 9, 2006 12:33 AM

Our baby is growin' up so fast!

Elated with the progress of the steel thus far.

Hope you guys look forward to some renderings from the flash presentation I plan to post tonight. They will hopefully do some justice to the building.

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