River House Apartments open in Wilmington
© 2023 Delaware Business Times
WILMINGTON – River House Apartments, one of the first newly built apartment projects in Wilmington by an out-of-state developer in many years, recently opened to tenants and its already drawing interest.
The 150-unit complex overlooking the Christina River at 401 A St. in the city’s Riverfront East district marks an emerging trend, as a development scene once dominated by a few local firms is now attracting interest from afar.
Washington Place Equities (WPE), a development, ownership and management firm, acquired several parcels running from 301 to 401 A St. for about $3.4 million in 2019. It strategically chose Wilmington as a geographic expansion for its portfolio. Founded in 2013, WPE is focused on multi-family residential projects and had mainly developed apartment complexes in its home city of Baltimore along with a townhome community in York, Pa.
WPE finished the project this summer after being delayed by about a year with the onset of the COVID pandemic, said Dominic Wiker, vice president and director of development at WPE. It also had to endure supply chain challenges and rising interest rates for construction.
“It took lots of behind-the-scenes work, particularly by our contractor, to get the job done. I think we were about 60 days off our original schedule and about 3% over budget, but in this kind of environment we feel that is, frankly, better than most,” Wiker told Delaware Business Times of the originally $35 million project.
With just a few weeks of operations under its belt, WPE has already occupied or leased more than half of the available units, Wiker said. River House has studio and one- and two-bedroom units with rents ranging from $1,585 to $2,350 a month, according to online listings.
“We’ve just been overwhelmed by the interest in the project. People seem to really like the product and the location. So, we’re really excited,” Wiker added.
The location of the new project sits amidst renewed development in the planned Riverfront East district, including the Chase Fieldhouse and across the street from the offices of the marketing and analytics firm OneMagnify. It is also just across the river from the Wilmington rail station served by SEPTA and Amtrak, which could make it appealing to those who work in Philadelphia or other areas.
Wiker said WPE has seen leasing interest from those who work at the nearby JPMorgan Chase offices or who work in Philadelphia and want to be near the train station. But it has also seen several tenants who are retirement age and were looking to downsize their space.
“That’s not something we typically see as our average tenant, so it’s an interesting trend to watch,” he said.
While WPE is spending the next few months marketing River House and meeting tenant needs, Wiker said that early next year the firm would likely begin looking at the future of the neighboring 3 acres that it also acquired. The 300 block of A Street is currently home to about 41,000 square feet of office and industrial space that houses Final Focus Photography, Fresenius Kidney Care Center, Heritage Concrete, and more, but will likely become a second phase of housing.
“We certainly think that River House would benefit from a project next to it,” Wiker said. “We’re very bullish on the future of that part of town.”
WPE is the first out-of-state firm to build in the emerging Riverfront East community, following the lead of local development leader Buccini/Pollin Group, which built hundreds of apartments and townhomes in the nearby Christina Landing community. But WPE won’t be the last as work is progressing on the 193-unit Luxor Wilmington community being built off South Market Street by Pennsylvania-based Westrum Development Company.
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