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Old 03-29-2012, 06:37 AM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
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Default Thinking of moving to Southwest DE? -- Don't!

OK, the title of this thread is deliberately provocative and a parody of the similarly titled Wilmington thread. However, what I want to discuss is the socio-economic problems of the portion of DE that includes places like Seaford, Laurel and Greenwood, and what the future of that part of the state may be. Today yet again I read a piece in the News-Journal regarding three young men charged in a shooting incident in Seaford, a couple of whom were apprehended during a traffic violation stop in Greenwood. These types of crime reports from southwestern DE are pretty routine fare, being reported very frequently in the newspaper.

There is, of course, no place anywhere that isn't afflicted with at least some crime of some sort, but when you think of the relatively low population density of southwestern DE, it might seem that area of the state has a quite high crime rate relative to the more densely populated coastal and northern regions.

My perception is that there isn't a lot going on economically in southwestern DE, the area has lost industry, and it's a backwater with little opportunity for youths whose families aren't agricultural land-owners. I wonder what efforts are being made to bring in more industry and jobs, and to rectify social problems there. I also wonder what future the area may have in terms of housing development for people who want to move to a more rural/small town environment -- the sort of folks who presently are moving to new developments in southern New Castle County or more central/easterly Kent County.

Any insights?
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:01 AM
 
Location: Long Neck,De
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Unfortunately Dr Jeff has it this right on the head . Since DuPont left Seaford several years ago there are very few major employers. Very few jobs for high schoolgrads and nothing for college grads to come back to.
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
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Yeah, but is there anything on the horizon at all? Any reason to think that businesses may have any incentives to locate operations in southwestern Sussex Co or for further real estate development to occur in that part of DE?

Unfortunately, I'm afraid I probably know the answer in the short term. Until the economy really picks up more steam, it would seem unlikely that there will be much economic development in that part of Delaware, but what might the next decade hold for that area of the State?
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:42 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doctorjef View Post
Yeah, but is there anything on the horizon at all? Any reason to think that businesses may have any incentives to locate operations in southwestern Sussex Co or for further real estate development to occur in that part of DE?
I don't have a crystal ball either, to predict the economic future of southwestern Sussex County.

However, unless one is familiar with this geographical area, subdivisions, and real estate activity, one wouldn't know about new construction currently taking place. New construction sales are documented in public record while sales and listings are shown in the local multi list. Off the top of my head, the following new or newer subdivisions are offering for sale, and selling new construction; there are probably more. I'm speaking of the $160,000-$225,000 price range in only southwestern Sussex County.

Little Creek Hundred - Towns at Laurel Grant, Country Grove, Forest Knoll Estates, Heritage Point
Broad Creek Hundred - Cypress Pointe, Deep Creek
Nanticoke Hundred - Ridgewood Crossing
Northwest Fork Hundred - Sweetbriar, Heritage Shores
Seaford Hundred - Lakeshores, Belle Ayre, Virginia Commons, Hill 'N Dale, Heritage Village, Clearbrook Estates. (Belle Ayre is doing very well, in the City of Seaford).

Real estate is not booming in southwest Sussex County, but there is real estate activity in the new construction segment of the market; trucks are unloading materials, and hammers are being swung. Resales are slow, but now considered steady. For a more positive outlook, take a ride through these areas and be encouraged by the activity. Southwestern Sussex County is not dead.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
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That's pretty inexpensive property, although I'm sure that 160-225K buys a lot more house in SW Sussex than in Middletown or North Wilmington, for example. More intriguing is the question of who is buying these new homes. Retirees? Working commuters looking for DE tax advantages and rural/small town living? Any insight?
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:02 AM
 
Location: Long Neck,De
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Does anybody remember a few years ago when someone proposed putting in a Disney World like park in the vicinity of Laurel? There was a big thing about it in the papers at that time.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:08 AM
 
Location: Center City
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I grew up in Seaford, left for college after graduating and never returned to live. That said, when I was in HS in the 1970s, Seaford was easily the most prosperous town in Sussex County, primarily due the presence of the Dupont nylon plant. The plant reached its employment peak sometime in the late 1960s/early 1970s with something like 4000 employees. That was in a town not much larger - counting men, women and children! This meant that DuPont employed not only the overwhelming number of adults in Seaford, but quite a significant number in the neighboring towns, from Harrington to Millsboro to Federalsburg to Salisbury. In addition to these being well-paying jobs, at that time, many folks who worked there held PhDs as Seaford was a key research center for DuPont fibers. This meant the town had to offer many more amenities than it does now in order the satisfy the demands of an educated workforce - most important among these being a quality school system. Much of this was bought and paid for with DuPont dollars.

The long slow decline of employment at the DuPont plant over the ensuing decades reflected a parallel decline in the town and to a lesser extent, those nearby. With Koch now in charge, there are now something like 130 employees total, and with that, making a fraction of what DuPont paid its staff. Quite a change. It's remarkable Seaford and the nearby towns have actually grown in that time rather than dried up and withered. That said, it's a very different culture there from the heyday of DuPont. As to what's on the horizon, as far as I know, nothing anywhere near as significant as DuPont. I know Purdue announced it is moving the HQ of one of its divisions in Seaford, bringing in 100 - 150 jobs. It will likely be more dribs and drabs like that over time.

In terms of education, the Seaford school system, long on auto-pilot (IMO) has recently hired a new superintendent and is opening a technical school, approved by referendum. In addition, Laurel (also by referendum) approved the building of a new high school, demonstrating that residents value investing in their children's future. While these moves will hopefully better equip graduating seniors to make their way in the world, I see little that would entice someone to return to the area after university. Perhaps more important, however, is that better jobs are needed for those with only a HS diploma (that said, this challenge is not unique to Western Sussex). One bright spot in the area is that some good jobs can be found in the medical field, with the growing Nanticoke system being the major regional employer now.

Although I personally need more amenities, one feature many find attractive is the slower pace of life and outdoor serenity. With waterways such as the Nanticoke and Board Creek, the many ponds in the area as well as its proximity the ocean and Chesapeake Bay, it counties to attract a growing number of retirees from outside the area:


All sizes | Mirror Reflections | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ur4chun8/6204828610/sizes/z/in/photostream/ - broken link)


All sizes | nanticoke river, seaford, delaware | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/nogoodnik/290878944/sizes/z/in/photostream/ - broken link)


All sizes | Seaford | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/8488020@N08/510111042/sizes/z/in/photostream/ - broken link)

As prices in places such as Talbot County and Rehoboth have become prohibitive to most people, folks are discovering this area. Still, not everything is cheap: There are properties listed on the Nancicoke in excess of a $1 million.

The growth of cities and towns is dynamic. Whether Western Sussex will experience another renaissance remains to be seen.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
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Beautiful photos. It surprises me to hear that Talbot County, MD is becoming very expensive. It's a great place to visit, but I just wouldn't have thought real estate costs there were prohibitive across the board.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:29 AM
 
Location: Center City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doctorjef View Post
Beautiful photos. It surprises me to hear that Talbot County, MD is becoming very expensive. It's a great place to visit, but I just wouldn't have thought real estate costs there were prohibitive across the board.
Thanks. I'm speaking more of waterfront properties in Talbot County for folks on an average budget. I have two friends (a couple) who retired from Houston, each with lucrative oil company pensions, who paid pretty a tidy sum for a property not even on the bay, but merely on a tributary.
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Old 03-29-2012, 12:04 PM
 
4,492 posts, read 5,382,993 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doctorjef View Post
That's pretty inexpensive property, although I'm sure that 160-225K buys a lot more house in SW Sussex than in Middletown or North Wilmington, for example. More intriguing is the question of who is buying these new homes. Retirees? Working commuters looking for DE tax advantages and rural/small town living? Any insight?
In southwestern Sussex County, $225,000 and under can buy one a nice 3 bedroom, 2 bath new construction on a crawl space, with a 2 car garage.....even as low as $160,000, for a 1350 sf house with a 1 car garage. This is the market for the location. Not necessarily retirees are buying these, not necessarily commuters, but young families enjoying the area, and/or locals. Naturally, they must have a job to acquire the mortgage. The picture painted of people living in this area and not having jobs, is not 100% correct. We know many who choose to live in that area, work in Seaford, Laurel and Dover, and live modestly. As in every location, jobs are scarce, and that area has its share of unemployed, as elsewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jm02 View Post
Thanks. I'm speaking more of waterfront properties in Talbot County for folks on an average budget. I have two friends (a couple) who retired from Houston, each with lucrative oil company pensions, who paid pretty a tidy sum for a property not even on the bay, but merely on a tributary.
We have relatives living in Talbot County, and they refer to that location as the "rich county". They live in modest housing, compared to most over there, but actually love being able to say they live in "Talbot County". Granted, there are some impressive waterfront properties there, and it's also a getaway for some affluent Washington, D.C. politicians.

Beautiful photos, Jm!
I hear the Woodland Ferry is in dire straits.
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