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Old March 17th, 2012, 03:19 AM   #1421
OSJ825
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Westin Riverfront Hotel To Get 1 mil letter of credit from Wilmington De.

From The Mayor's Budget Address:

Our latest investment opportunity is a new hotel on the riverfront that will produce benefits for
not only Wilmington, but for all of Delaware. Wilmington is preparing to commit to a $1 million
letter of credit to assist the hotel project in achieving full bank financing. We are currently
reviewing protections that would be included in the agreement to enable the City to recover its
money if any portion of the letter of credit is ever needed for this project. It is important to
note that a letter of credit is not a grant, but a type of loan guarantee or “insurance policy” that
encumbers City funds for a defined period of time. The funds will eventually become
unencumbered, and the City will have the money available for other economic development
projects. A letter of credit would be backed by the City’s Economic Development Strategic
Fund, which was established by the Administration and Council soon after I took office in 2001.
This letter of credit does not affect operating budget dollars that support daily government
programs, services and personnel. A riverfront hotel will be another great addition to
Wilmington’s rise in recent years as a regional destination for tourism supported by an everexpanding
array of restaurants and entertainment venues. Wilmington is the commerce capital
of the State. What’s good for Wilmington is good for all Delawareans. Wilmington should be

proud to support another project that will produce 167 immediate construction jobs, $435,000
in building permits, $60,000 in construction phase wage taxes, 120 full‐time jobs, and future
City wage tax and head tax revenue. All of these benefits will help our City as we also are
supporting new tourism opportunities and improving our City’s and State’s image as class
destinations.



Note: Scroll to the bottom and click the link for the full budget address:
http://www.wilmingtonde.gov/news/news.php?newsID=385

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Old March 18th, 2012, 01:44 PM   #1422
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More Riverfront News: Penn Cinema Riverfront Multiplex IMAX Movie Theater



Money, land disputes tangle cinema proposal
Source: Sunday News Journal

Advocates for development of Wilmington's Riverfront have long maintained that a multiplex theater complex and nearby hotel could be the crowning attraction to make the area a true commercial success.

While officials from the city and the Riverfront Development Corp. are pursuing funding to complete the hotel project, the movie theater has suffered a series of delays involving a dispute over more than $472,000 the Delaware Department of Transportation says the developer owes it and whether taxpayers would be properly reimbursed for a sale and transfer of publicly owned land necessary to the deal.

DelDOT officials say they want to resurrect the deal with the Riverfront Development Corp., which is in turn working with Penn Cinema and Penn Riverfront LLC, a limited liability company that lists Buccini/Pollin Group President Robert E. Buccini as its registered agent. The contract for the land deal expired in mid-January.

Key to the deal is that DelDOT sell the RDC a tract of land on which the theater complex would be built. The RDC would then convey the land to Penn Riverfront, although no financial details have been revealed. RDC would act as a middleman so that DelDOT could bypass a state prohibition on its selling public land to private interests at below-market rates.

In return, DelDOT would get land from the RDC that the highway agency could use to complete a bridge across the Christina River. The crossing would connect U.S. 13 at the Market and Walnut streets split to the redeveloped commercial, residential and entertainment centers on the other side of the river.

Documents obtained under the state Freedom of Information Act show that cracks began appearing in the project last year, when former DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks demanded that Buccini/Pollin settle a debt to taxpayers, currently estimated by DelDOT at $472,184, as one condition for the discount-price sale of public land needed to complete the deal.

Wicks said in an email to her acting successor, Cleon Cauley, that Buccini's companies had already "significantly" benefited from massive DelDOT spending to support company projects along the Christina River, including Justison Landing, Wilmington's largest recent redevelopment initiative. DelDOT's share included costs for roads, utility relocations and open space that exceed $40 million, with more bills to come.


Link to Full Article:
http://www.delawareonline.com/articl...nclick_check=1
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Old March 24th, 2012, 01:09 PM   #1423
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Progress Made with Getting the IMAX Movie Theater Built

Source: Today's News Journal

Proposed movie multiplex closer after mortgage vote

Wilmington's Riverfront Development Corp. on Friday removed one of the last major hurdles blocking construction of a planned $15 million-to-$20 million IMAX cinema multiplex near the Christina waterfront, voting to pay off a mortgage on corporation-owned land needed to seal the deal.

DelDOT had refused to accept the $450,000 debt as part of a land swap needed for release of the nearly 5-acre Penn Riverfront theater site, now a vacant, state-owned industrial lot north of Frawley Stadium, at South Madison and Beech streets.

That threatened to derail a draft agreement calling for the publicly supported RDC to pay DelDOT $2 million for the cinema site. As part of the deal, DelDOT also would receive at no cost a 6-acre parcel that the RDC owns along the river on South Market Street that the agency wants for a new bridge and gateway to the Riverfront.

"Their position is, funding being what it is, that they're not in a position to pay for it," RDC Executive Director Michael Purzycki said. "It makes things snug for us," financially, "but we can make it work."

A previous contract for the cinema land deal expired in January after DelDOT and the RDC were unable to agree on payments, and after DelDOT objected to what it said are unpaid bills for transportation-related work at the Riverfront owed by Buccini/Pollin Group, the city's largest developer.

DelDOT spokesman Geoff Sundstrom said the RDC decision was "a positive development" that will help work on an overall settlement. Resolution of BPG's debt, he said, is now considered a separate issue that would not affect the cinema pact.

Penn Riverfront president Jonathan Byler said late Friday that final agreements need to be signed and construction needs to start by May 1 to allow opening of the 2,800-seat complex by the weekend before Thanksgiving, in time for the important holiday movie-going season. He also said that developers are optimistic that the theater will be built and opened.

"I don't see anything wrong with doing it, even if we have to use our line of credit," Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker, an RDC board member, said before a unanimous vote to approve the payoff plan. "I think it's critical to get that development going and have it in place. I understand that DelDOT is sensitive about making land deals."

DelDOT has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years after revelations about questionable land sales and leases and loosely documented land-lease agreements with influential developers to keep land open for controversial road projects.

The Penn Riverfront venture generated its own controversy recently, after the release of a year-old call from a former DelDOT secretary for payments by Riverfront developer Buccini/Pollin Group on balances for past DelDOT work. Claimed debts to the state include nearly $292,000 for state construction of a side street that Buccini said was not yet needed.

Penn Riverfront lists BPG President Robert E. Buccini as its registered agent.

The company would acquire the South Madison land from the RDC and develop a 15-screen cinema complex under terms not yet made public. DelDOT would fill and pave some surrounding land for parking, making the spaces available for cinema use under a 99-year lease.

State officials set up the two-step transfer to avoid a conflict over the sales price. Delaware law generally bars a sale of surplus property for less than 85 percent of appraised value, and one state appraisal pegged the price of the cinema tract at more than $5 million. Although RDC and city officials disputed the appraisal, negotiators opted to transfer the land first to the RDC under less-restrictive provisions for economic development projects.

Former DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks agreed to the approach last year, according to documents released to The News Journal. But Wicks also supported efforts to link the Riverfront cinema pact to settlement of BPG's debts. Wicks said the balance "should not be tolerated" in light of heavy taxpayer-financed spending to support BPG's Riverfront projects -- spending she said "contributed to the funding problems we have today."

Buccini said last week that his company was working with DelDOT to settle the matter, and pointed out that BPG believes DelDOT owes the company money as well.

Highway officials plan to use the South Market Street property for approaches to a new bridge linking the Riverfront development area to the U.S. 13 split at South Market and South Walnut streets.

The project includes a new road that would cross the Christina, hug the south edge of the Shipyard Shops and Riverfront development zone before threading between the stadium and Interstate 95, ending at a link with Beech Street at the new multiplex.

RDC officials consider the movie theater and a proposed Westin Hotel, to be developed by BPG, as crucial amenities for the Riverfront.

Penn Riverfront would serve an estimated 750,000 patrons yearly, creating traffic for surrounding restaurants and businesses.

Purzycki said the full-service Westin would make the Center on the Riverfront more attractive as a convention site. Baker already has said that he would support a $1 million city letter of credit to guarantee a portion of the $36 million project.

Purzycki has asked lawmakers to consider a $2 million guarantee for the hotel, and has said the RDC would back another $2 million.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 03:42 AM   #1424
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hope it goes through im sick of going to kop to watch imax
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Old April 9th, 2012, 06:53 AM   #1425
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Where exactly is the theater site? South of Beech Street or west of Madison Street?
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Old April 10th, 2012, 02:56 AM   #1426
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
Where exactly is the theater site? South of Beech Street or west of Madison Street?
They are stating the corner of beech and madison.

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Old April 28th, 2012, 03:12 PM   #1427
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More Great News For The Riverfront In Wilmington!

A $76 million wave of construction could break across Wilmington's struggling Riverfront redevelopment area in coming weeks, but key decisions about the public's role in two of three big building ventures have yet to be settled.

Buccini/Pollin Group leads all three projects: a $36 million proposed Westin Wilmington Riverfront hotel; a $20 million, 3,218-seat, 15-screen Penn Cinema Riverfront multiplex that will include an IMAX auditorium; and a $20 million, 116-unit apartment building in BPG's Justison Landing redevelopment.

"Issues remain parking for the cinema and financing for the hotel," Riverfront Development Corporation Executive Director Michael Purzycki said late Friday. "Nothing new to report but I remain very optimistic."

The 10-story Westin hotel was last reported to need an additional $4 million in public loan guarantees, including $2 million from the state, after securing Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker's publicly declared backing for a $1 million commitment from the city.

Baker this week called on critics of the public hotel subsidies to "shut up," and suggested that hotel industry opponents simply wanted to avoid new competition.

Purzycki has said the RDC will offer $2 million in as-yet unspecified assets to back the hotel, which would rise on a 0.73-acre lot trimmed from the Center on the Riverfront's original nearly 6 acres. Terms for transfer of the land itself have yet to be made public.

State lawmakers and Gov. Jack Markell's administration have been less ready to provide a guarantee for the remaining $2 million, despite assurances that the arrangement would require a guarantee rather than an actual transfer of cash.

"We do not have a start date for the hotel as we have not finalized an agreement with RDC," BPG president Robert Buccini said earlier this month.

The multiplex picture is slightly clearer.

One partner in the cinema project said this week construction should start next month, although hopes for a May 1 kickoff date are fading fast despite reports that work needed to be under way by that time to assure capture of the end-of-year holiday movie season.

(Page 2 of 2)


"We think we'll be breaking ground in May. That certainly is our target at this point," said Jonathan Byler, a partner in the Penn Cinema Imax venture near Lancaster, Pa. "It's just a matter of things needing to be approved. We're ready to start."

Among the approvals is a land swap between DelDOT and the RDC, under an arrangement that filtered the cinema land through the riverfront agency to shield the deal from a potentially more-costly requirement for state land sales directly to the public.

The RDC's initial acquisition of the more-than 4 acres now owned by DelDOT at South Madison and Beech streets, adjacent to the Interstate 95 viaduct, also made the project eligible for up to $1 million in contamination cleanup subsidies. Private ventures are eligible for less than a quarter of that amount.

Less clear are final terms for the several hundred parking spots needed around the site. The RDC has pressed DelDOT to provide some of the parking on remaining public land adjacent to the cinema, as well as on land under the I-95 viaduct at Wilmington.

Wilmington Planning Director Peter Besecker said Friday that the city had received some plans needed to review the cinema project on Wednesday, and construction permit applications already are under study by the city's licenses and inspections department. Some permits for site work could be issued before some reviews are complete, officials said.

Buccini said timetables are less clear still for the apartment building, which would occupy one of the two largest remaining Justison Landing parcels.

"We are still hoping to break ground by late spring," Buccini said. "However, our focus has been on finalizing both the cinema and hotel projects."
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Old May 19th, 2012, 02:35 AM   #1428
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Riverfront hotel gets $6 million guarantees

It looks like the Wilmington Riverfront is going to get the Hotel & the IMAX Movie Theater!!!



Source: News Journal
After months of wrangling over public aid to private investors, Wilmington's Riverfront Development Corporation this morning approved a $6 million guarantee package for a proposed 10-story Westin hotel on land carved from the Center at the Riverfront.

Also approved were terms for the sale and use of public Riverfront land for a new IMAX cinema multiplex on land RDC will buy from DelDOT and sell to a development group that includes Buccini/Pollin Group. Final details are pending on an agreement with DelDOT for provision of needed additional parking on adjacent state land.

The hotel vote cleared the RDC board with 13 supporters and two absentions after a call for additional review by Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock, one of the RDC's directors.

Bullock’s request for a brief review delay prompted warnings from others, including a representative of the hotel developer, that financing for the long-delayed deal could fall apart if the deal was postponed again.

RDC Executive Director Michael Purzycki said the two ventures would transform the long-struggling Wilmington waterfront, and produce enough Chase Center revenues and government tax receipts to offset taxpayer-covered Chase Center deficits now stubbornly hovering near $900,000 annually.

"All of a sudden, we add these two dimensions to the Riverfront and it changes us forever," Purzycki said.

Final details of the complex hotel aid plan will be reviewed by the RDC's executive committee if needed, the group agreed.

The RDC secured a $5 million share of a $37 million hotel venture designed by the hotel arm of Wilmington-based Buccini/Pollin Group, the riverfront's main developer. City of Wilmington officials already had pledged a $1 million letter of credit to help BPG secure financing for the deal.

Supporters of the hotel project said the recovering area along the Christina waterfront needs a hotel to draw more business, multi-day conferences and casual visits to the Chase Center and surrounding attractions. A summary released Friday estimated economic impact at $2.3 million.

(Page 2 of 2)


Critics, including some lawmakers and private hotel operators, argued that the government had taken too deep and cozy an approach, privately arranging public support with little public input and creating unfair competition for private operators.

David Pollin, a principal in BPG, said the developers are confident the hotel will succeed. Current occupancy rates and revenues for hotels in Wilmington already are higher than the levels needed for success.

“What we are talking about with this opportunity is helping to light up the Chase Center,” Pollin said, adding later, “We're not taking business away from X, Y or Z hotel, we’re supplementing what's already there.”

Details announced Friday included one previously undisclosed term for the hotel, involving a 10-year service contract with hospitality provider Sodexo Inc., which has handled Chase Center food service and related operations for more than a decade

Sodexo, the world's largest hospitality service provider, agreed to invest $2 million in the hotel project based on the service contract and growth agreements.

Riverfront Audio Visual, a company that also provides services at Chase, will put up $1 million, while private investors will put up $10 million in cash.

Final terms for Sodexo's management agreement and fees under the new agreement have yet to be set, Purzycki said

US Bank agreed to provide a $21 million mortgage, conditioned on a $6 million letter of credit through PNC, guaranteeing $6 million of the total.

The RDC's share included a $3 million second mortgage on the Chase Center as a portion of a letter of credit for project financing and a $2 million loan if required from Barclays, guaranteed by BPG.

Wilmington extended a $1 million guarantee.

In addition, the RDC agreed to sell a .75-acre section of the Chase Center land to BPG Hotel Partners XXXI LLC for $3 million, to be repaid at a minimum of $250,000 yearly for the first four years.

Payback for the remaining $2 million will be based on the success of the project, as much as half of the remaining $2 million of the remainder will be guaranteed by part of a $1.3 million cash reserve set aside by Starwood/Westin.

"We are betting that the project will work in order to get paid for three-quarters of an acre of land," Purzycki said.

Bullock said he supported the project, but said that board members had a responsibility to understand all details. He suggested less than a month for additional review.

“I’m suggesting that it would be a prudent course to take a little bit of time to see these documents completed,” Bullock said.

Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker immediately called for a vote, dismissing recent newspaper, hotel industry and public criticisms as “bullshit. You all know that.”
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 08:56 PM   #1429
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Has any beside me and osj85 been down to the new site of the IMAX?!!!! so exciting to the Riverfront coming together. From the looks of things Cross Fit will be taking the old Red Room of Khaunaville.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 06:14 AM   #1430
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I have not been down there in several months due to work. Did they start work on the theater?
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Old May 26th, 2012, 01:34 AM   #1431
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
I have not been down there in several months due to work. Did they start work on the theater?
The site has been fully fenced in and it looks like preliminary work has already started. They are mostly doing underground work..
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Old June 16th, 2012, 04:10 AM   #1432
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Ceremonial Groundbreaking for the Penn Cinema IMAX Movie Theater




WILMINGTON — Come this fall, dinner and a movie returns to the Wilmington date-night lineup.

After three decades without a full-scale movie theater, officials celebrated Thursday at the Riverfront with a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Penn Cinema, set to open in time for the Nov. 9 premiere of the latest James Bond blockbuster.

Michael Purzycki, executive director of the Riverfront Development Corporation, lauded the impending arrival of the $20 million, 14-screen cinema that will also include Delaware’s first IMAX theater.

As the vision for the city’s Riverfront materialized with high-rise apartments, retail space and restaurants, Purzycki always thought the area offered the “perfect place for dinner and a movie.”

“The only thing missing was the part about the movie, and of course, a place to spend the night,” Purzycki said, referencing the ongoing push to bring a 10-story hotel to the Riverfront.

“But that’s another story. And another ulcer. And maybe another groundbreaking soon.”

The city’s last large movie theater, the Rialto, closed in 1982. While the 221-seat Theatre N at Nemours on Orange Street opened in 2002, it only has showings on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Riverfront Development Corporation last month authorized the purchase of Delaware Department of Transportation land needed for the theater.

Penn Cinema, to be built on a brownfield at Beech and South Madison streets, will have plenty of room for the blockbusters.

And it will start with “Skyfall,” the 23rd James Bond film.

Penn Ketchum, the managing partner of Penn Cinema, tried to sell female movie-goers especially on “Skyfall,” pointing out that hunky Brit Daniel Craig will again star as 007.

“For those ladies who don’t know, he’s super hot and takes off his shirt a lot,” Ketchum said. “And it’s going to be in IMAX, so it’s even cooler.”

The theater will also be one of the first in the nation with a 48-frames per second projection system for films such as “The Hobbit,” due out in December.

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Old June 17th, 2012, 06:01 PM   #1433
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Thanks for posting that. It will be a nice addition to the Riverfront, although it could still be so much better.

On another note, anyone that has been paying attention might have noticed that I have just been posting links to articles, as opposed to the first few paragraphs. A subscription is needed to access articles, and I don't remember if I ever gave an e-mail address to the News Journal.
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Old July 14th, 2012, 03:06 AM   #1434
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Westin Hotel Groundbreaking Ceremony Was Today


A $37-million project expected to create much needed jobs, and attract tourists to the city of Wilmington, is set to begin construction on the Riverfront.

It's been nearly 20 years since a full service hotel has been in Wilmington, but Friday's groundbreaking ceremony marks a new beginning for the city as project leaders, along with Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del, Congressman John Carney, D.-Del, and Wilmington Mayor James Baker came together to welcome the Westin Hotel. According to the Riverfront Development Corporation the 10-story hotel will be connected to the 87,000-square-foot Chase Center, and is expected to generate $3.9 million in state and city tax revenues in the first few years.

"It will be great to finally welcome the large numbers of meetings and conventions that have previously expressed interest in our town but failed to materialize due to the limited number of rooms available within reach of the Chase Center," said RDC executive director, Michael Purzycki.

The RDC board approved the $3 million sale of land for the hotel and the city of Wilmington provided a $1 million loan guarantee for the project on top of a $3 million loan guarantee from the RDC that's backed by a mortgage on a the Chase Center.

In the meantime, people can look forward to a spacious 180 room hotel with state of the art features such as a pool, a full-service restaurant and bar, meeting space, a fitness center as well as other popular amenities. The Riverfront's latest addition will bring 160 construction jobs to the area plus offer 123 people permanent employment once the hotel opens.

"This area represents tremendous opportunity for a wide range of businesses, employees and residents, and the Westin will mark yet another exciting chapter in the great story we've been telling about the Riverfront for the last 15 years," added Purzycki.

Westin Wilmington is slated to open in early 2014.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 05:49 AM   #1435
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Thanks for posting that!
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Old July 18th, 2012, 03:23 AM   #1436
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No problem.. I know you been working hard but we could use some new construction photos of the IMAX and Hotel when they get started on it. Hope to see some new stuff soon.
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Old July 20th, 2012, 11:20 PM   #1437
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You're right, I have been busy. But I'll try and get some pictures over there for some periodic construction updates.
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Old August 26th, 2012, 11:42 PM   #1438
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This hotel is no joke... no wonder city and state jammed it through.

Vivid atmospheric lighting, botanicals, aromatherapy

First Smoke-free hotel chain

Pillowtop Matresses

Westin Kids Club : Fireside story telling, Sandcastle competitions, movie nights

Superfoods - antioxidant-rich foods to stave aging and cancer

Body Therapy Spa

Guided running tours around the hotel with towel and cold water waiting when you get back

They are known for having full-scale lounges and nightclub-type entertainment with live instruments, etc.


Sounds like the Hotel DuPont will have competition.
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Old September 5th, 2012, 02:08 PM   #1439
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I wish someone would come up with a proposal for Orange street. It looks so desolate with all the parking lots.
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Old December 14th, 2012, 03:28 AM   #1440
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The Penn Cinema IMAX theater opens tonight on the Riverfront!

http://www.delawareonline.com/relart...t-IMAX-theater
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