Estimates are for potentially 4,000 jobs if the site fills up with companies on about 220 acres between U.S. Route 13 and Route 1
It could be a field of dreams – dreams of jobs, revenue for the developer and a larger tax base and more electric revenue for Smyrna.
Construction has begun on the Duck Creek Business Campus on about 220 acres of farm land east of U.S. Route 13 between Duck Creek and Paddock Road, annexed several years ago into the town limits of Smyrna.
Town Manager Gary Stulir said property owner KRM Development began the site work and installing the utilities this summer.
“Over the next 20 years, they anticipate 4,000 jobs,” said Stulir. “There will be multiple phases to the project.”
The town has already run the utilities to the site, including electric, water and sewer lines.
There will be entrances on northbound U.S. Route 13 just north of Duck Creek and on Paddock Road just east of U.S. Route 13.
Crews have been cutting down the trees and beginning the demolition on a house where the entrance will be on U.S. Route 13.
Smyrna Planning and Zoning Manager Win Abbott said the property is zoned industrial office research park (IORP), the same as the Smyrna Business Park on Wheatley’s Pond Road (Route 300).
“It is expected that the uses will be similar,” said Abbott. “There is a long list of what uses are permitted by right in our code. Those uses are followed by uses that would require a public hearing of either the Board of Adjustment or the Town Council.”
Among the uses allowed in the industrial office research park district are:
• Manufacturing, assembling, converting, altering, finishing, cleaning, cooking, baking or any other type of manufacturing or industrial processing of any goods, materials, products, instruments, appliances and devices, provided that the fuel used shall be oil, gas or electricity; together with incidental clinics, cafeterias and recreational facilities for the exclusive use of employees of the company.
• Research, design, testing and development laboratories.
• Printing, publishing, binding, packaging, storage, warehousing, transshipment and distribution, and trucking terminals.
• Business, professional or administrative offices.
• Electric substation, distribution and transmission facilities.
The developer’s plans
“Our intent is to build a business campus,” said Bryan Matthews, vice president of KRM Development, based in Chestertown, Maryland.
The company already has two business parks, one in Chestertown and another by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Stevensville, Maryland.
“We buy land, build buildings, and we own them and lease them,” said Matthews. “That’s a little different. Most of the time the builder will build it but then sell it. We will be invested in this project for the long haul.”
At the Smyrna site, KRM is installing roads, storm water management systems, and water, sewer and electric utilities.
“It will probably take until late spring to early summer 2019,” Matthews said.
The next step will be the construction of a “spec” building that will accommodate office space and warehouse space for a potential business tenant.
“It’s going to be roughly 60,000 square feet,” Matthews said, “but if we get a tenant before we begin, we will build to suit.”
Matthews said his company has been working with the town and economic development committees on ideas to bring businesses and jobs to the site.
“Our business park by the Chesapeake Bay has a couple hundred businesses and a couple of thousand people working there, and we started 20 years ago with one building,” he said.
Matthews said company leaders thought the Smyrna site was attractive because of its location between Route 1 and Route 13 with the proximity to Dover and Middletown.
“KRM has owned the property for a long time. For multiple reasons, it hasn’t been the right time to build,” Matthews said. “Last year, we were ready and we started re-engaging with the different government agencies. We’ve had great support from the state legislature and the Town of Smyrna.”
He said the types of companies that may be interested in the Duck Creek Business Campus include light manufacturing companies, distribution facilities and businesses in need of warehouse space.
“Our business park in Stevensville has many light manufacturing businesses,” he said. “There’s a guitar company that ships guitars all over the world. There’s a tile business. Some are offices. Some are warehouses – it’s a great location for that.”