Millville by the Sea presents Main Street plan in workshop

Imagine sitting on the grass at an outdoor pavilion, watching a jazz concert. Imagine sitting at a corner café, having coffee. Now imagine doing both of those things in Millville.

In a presentation to Millville officials at an April 4 workshop, officials from the Millville Group laid out plans for Millville by the Sea’s Main Street. The 20-acre center of the development, directly off of Route 17, would combine retail, corporate office and residential space with a man-made pond, an outdoor pavilion and a hotel into the focal point of the town’s Master Planned Community (MPC).

“It’s done in good taste,” Millville Town Manager Linda Collins said of the proposal. “It’s going to have a lot to offer the residents of Millville; not just the residents of Millville by the Sea.”

If built according to plan, there would be about 300,000 square feet of residential, office and retail space in the town’s center, according to Millville Group Project Manager Al Ruble.

Millville residents would be able to shop, watch a concert and eat in what Ruble hopes will someday prove to be the “heartbeat” of the growing coastal town.

“We’ve got a chance to do something real special for the community,” Ruble said. “We want to build a town. We’re building this as a Main Street, like small-town America.”

Commercial B, the part of the MPC which lays out the Main Street plan, is the only phase of the Millville by the Sea plan that does not yet have schematic approval from the town. Ruble hopes to obtain that approval at the town’s May town council meeting before venturing out for state agencies’ approval.

The project manager said he doesn’t expect final approval and permits to be issued within the next year. Land development might not start until late 2007 for the unique town center, which Millville group officials displayed through a three-dimensional model at the workshop.

“This isn’t an everyday thing in Delaware,” Ruble said of the project. “Commercial B will be the heart of the town.”

If built according to schematic plans, Millville by the Sea builders will place about 2,500 homes on 606 lots in the Route-17 based community. Millville Group officials are awaiting state agencies’ final approval for Phase I of the project before obtaining building permits to start land development on the 195-home first phase this fall.

Ruble said that he expects the first house to be built in Phase I in December or January. Along with Phase I, Ruble said that the group hopes to build a temporary welcome and sales center and four or five model homes to show town residents and prospective buyers what the community might look like when completed.

Development officials expect to build the 50,000 square foot-family center, complete with two pools, a library and much more, along with the first part of Phase II. Ruble said he expects that portion of the plan to reach final approval by the fall, when land development starts on Phase I.