County Efforts to Preserve Felician Sisters Ogletown Property
Entire property targeted for a residential development
This property lies in an area that state planning guidelines designate for the highest - Level 1 - density development. See https://stateplanning.delaware.gov/strategies/documents/ncc-map.pdf. No attempt was made by state officials to change the designation.
The first exploratory record plan for this property was submitted by the developer in December, 2015. This initiated a process of development review that occurred throughout 2016 and into 2017, including level of service/traffic impact approval by both DelDOT and the County.
County initiates purchase negotiations; owner expresses willingness to preserve
After the 2016 Election, the Meyer Transition Committee on Parks identified Ogletown as an area to prioritize additional parkland. In January, 2017, County Executive Meyer took office with a pledge to work with residents, County Councilwoman Diller, and other stakeholders to preserve the site for parkland. His team began engagements with the owners to explore options. In light of the County government’s growing structural budget deficit, the County Executive made clear that the county could not pay more than the appraised value of the land, would be willing to match funding commitment from the state, and anticipated that additional funding from outside sources may be needed. To that end, the County received verbal pledges of support toward the potential purchase of the property from private, not-for-profit funding sources.
In February, 2017, the county’s efforts were encouraged when the owner expressed an open-ness to preserving the land, minus eight acres it would retain on which to build 60 apartment units of affordable housing.
During negotiations, the property owner pledged to sell the land to the county for “considerably less” than they would require from a private housing developer in the interest of the public good.
Over seven months last year senior members of the Meyer Administration, County Council, along with staff from the county’s Departments of Law, Land Use, Finance, Special Services, and Community Services, invested hundreds of hours working on this deal and negotiating with the property owners on a fair deal for county residents.
New Castle County makes four written offers
Over the course of negotiations New Castle County made the property owners four written offers to acquire the land. Each offer expressed the County’s support for the owner’s desire to retain a portion of the parcel and develop 60 affordable rental apartments.
- Written offer submitted June 6th: No written counteroffer from property owner.
- Written offer submitted June 21st: No written counteroffer from property owner.
- Written offer submitted July 13th: No written counteroffer from property owner.
- Written offer submitted August 7th: No written counteroffer from property owner.
Read the offer letters linked below.
To date, the four County offers stand as the only written offers to purchase and preserve this land.
Despite their rhetoric, the property owners never proposed an offer for sale they would accept. The owners never responded to any of the offer letters with a specific counter-offer, sale conditions or a sale price they would accept to complete the sale.
Funding commitments for purchase:
- County: County Executive Matt Meyer offered up to $2.5 million in New Castle County funds to acquire this land at appraised value, subject to approval by County Council and contingent on the commitment of matching funds from the State of Delaware.
- State: In June, 2017 State Senator Bryan Townsend initially tried to secure “$2 million for the first year of a five-year, $6 million commitment,” to purchase the property according to draft bond bill language he submitted to the General Assembly. Unfortunately, Senator Townsend’s efforts to secure that allocation were unsuccessful and the approved Fiscal Year 2018 bond bill only included a soft one-time commitment of $1.25 million in state funds. The failure to secure adequate funds from the State complicated efforts to secure a successful purchase.
- Private sources: New Castle County committed to taking all possible steps to help secure funding from private, not-for-profit funding sources for the balance of the purchase price.
Meanwhile, the owners continued to advance the pending development plan through the land use process. In July, 2017, the owner and developer sought and received final development plan approval.