February 22, 2022
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WILMINGTON – A new indoor-outdoor food hall will bring nearly a dozen new concepts to the northern end of Wilmington’s central business district, as the operators of the Hercules Plaza open The Chancery Market later this year.
The $5 million project, undertaken by the ownership of 1313 N. Market St., will create a communal outdoor seating area that dovetails into a renovation of the eastward side of the building’s bottom floor.
As Scott Johnson, representative for the ownership LLC, toured the property this week, he said that he was excited to bring such an amenity to the more than 2,000 tenant employees of the office building, the hundreds of hotel guests who stay immediately adjacent to the plaza and the thousands of residents of downtown apartment complexes.
The building has partnered on the 12,000-square-foot project with Brooklyn-based creative consulting and management firm Hospitality HQ, which developed and manages 10 other similar projects in cities across the country. With 11 curated vendor stalls, including a central bar, Johnson said Hospitality HQ would draw on its portfolio of brands from around the country to introduce in Wilmington while also highlighting some local favorites.
“We are thrilled to open the doors to our community in Wilmington,” said Akhtar Nawab, CEO of Hospitality HQ, in a statement. “We see our food halls as being real community centers, and our goal is to create interesting opportunities for all our vendors to get to know their community and give the community a place to spend their time.”
While locals will see familiar outdoor aesthetics to the Riverfront and a vendor concept akin to the popular DE.CO food hall in the DuPont Building, Johnson said he thought their concept could stand out in the market.
“I think each can develop their own identities,” he said. “The indoor-outdoor aspect of what we’re planning will definitely be unique.”
That feature will be achieved by installing large retractable windows in the food hall that will seat about 233 inside. The outdoor space will feature a number of communal fireplaces, space for live entertainment and music, cornhole and chess boards, seating for about 150 and lots of greenery.
That investment into amenities is what commercial real estate brokers say office tenants are now looking for, and the plans for The Chancery Market helped land 1313 Market at least one new large tenant. The boutique litigation law firm Ross Aronstam & Moritz recently leased 20,000 square feet in the building, citing in part “amenities like none we’ve seen in the area.”
While business lunches and after-hour cocktails will undoubtedly be part of The Chancery Market’s appeal, Johnson expects many of the food hall’s future patrons to come from outside of the building though. It will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, likely seven days a week, he said. The neighboring Residence Inn draws steady crowds of out-of-town visitors seeking out the brand’s rewards program, which will be a reliable source of diners, Johnson said.
The building’s ownership also expects to build a skywalk between 1313 Market and the adjacent 1,000-space public parking garage, allowing the public to avoid having to find on-street parking. An $825,000 state Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund grant is also adding a car drop-off pad, streetscaping, walkability and multimodal connections in parallel to the project.
The work on building The Chancery Market – named after Delaware’s leading business-focused court in a nod to the number of law firms in the building – is underway, and the food hall hopes to open in the second half of this year.
Helping to guide the work inside the space that formerly boasted a Dunkin’ and small deli, Johnson and the crew have stenciled comments received in visioning sessions with tenants and locals.
“There is a strong desire for something new and exciting in Wilmington, with an accessible, community-centric focus on culture, arts and entertainment,” reads one of the comments.
“We were looking for some input on what people wanted, but we started collecting these feelings. They just said everything we were feeling about the project, so we painted them on the walls as a reminder,” Johnson said. “I think when we finish the project, we’ll have to find a way to incorporate them into the design.”
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