Abandoned Delaware industrial site to be revitalized

The owner went bankrupt, the site was plagued by contamination and floods – but, a plan is in place to redevelop an old industrial site in Yorklyn into a mix of parkland and commercial use.

The plan involves demolition of the former headquarters and main plant building at the NVF site.  Back in the 1920s, National Vulcanized Fibre was the world’s largest manufacturer of vulcanized fibre.  NVF began to experience financial difficulties in 1993 and declared bankruptcy in 2009, leaving behind a number of buildings as well as a toxic mess.  Some of those buildings, however, are architecturally significant and will be preserved. 

“It’s time for this property to be reclaimed by the community,” Governor Jack Markell said, shortly before he took control of a piece of construction equipment and brought down a metal roof on Wednesday.  “It’s going to be gorgeous.  It’s going to be vibrant.” 

After NVF ran into financial difficulties, a coalition formed to purchase the entire site, preventing it from being sold piecemeal.  The preservation project will result in new parkland and trails that will connect the site to existing tourist attractions like the Marshall Steam Museum and the Ashland Nature Center operated by the Delaware Nature Society.  The project is also expected to mitigate the historic problem of flooding in Yorklyn on the banks of Red Clay Creek. 

“We’re cleaning up 100 years of contamination,” Delaware Natural Resources Secretary Collin O’Mara said.  “We believe the synergy created by the master plan that includes a trail, an antique car loop and railroad, will make this a uniquely Delaware destination.” 

About 400 acres will remain as open space for the public, according to Delaware State Parks Environmental Program Administrator Matt Chesser.  “We’re estimating about a three-year turnaround for the project, so that at the end of three years you will see essentially the vision come through,” Chesser said.  

Chesser also believes the rehabilitated buildings will be ready at that time for expected shops, restaurants, and bed-and-breakfasts.

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