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WILMINGTON, DE-The 680,000-sf, 22-story Delaware Trust Building is to be reborn as an apartment building five years after an arsonist-set fire ravaged the structure, which has remained vacant ever since. The $50-million project is expected to produce the Residences at Rodney Square, a 270-unit luxury building of market rate apartments. Developer Buccini/Pollin Group Inc. is behind the endeavor and has the support of the city mayor James M. Baker, who is encouraging the City Council’s approval of approximately $4 million worth of incentives.

“This project is a huge boost to our administration’s goal of creating and supporting market-rate housing in the downtown area and of creating a vibrant ’24/7′ residential Downtown Wilmington community,” Baker said at a joint news conference with Buccini announcing the project on Thursday. “Beyond our strong support and encouragement for this type of pioneering and daring project, it is important that the City offer tangible financial assistance to make it happen sooner rather than later. As more and more people become part of everyday life in Downtown Wilmington, the positive benefits for our city’s retail and entertainment outlets will increase dramatically.”

Located along the downtown area’s Market Street Mall at 900-902 North Market Street, the 155-feet-tall, beaux-arts designed Delaware Trust got its start in 1920 and submitted to a series of additions to bring it to its current size. Following the fire and the ensuing disagreements over cleanup responsibility, the tower was finally stripped to a raw shell, leaving it clear for interior build-out. Buccini just recently acquired the property from owner New York-based Didimoi Property Holdings for a reported $7.5 million. The developer plans to demolish part of the structure, leaving 14 floors and 243,000-sf for the apartments. The finished product will also have indoor parking as well as 16,000-sf of ground-level retail space. Demolition will begin within the next few weeks, and the target date of completion is September 2003.

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