Revitalizing Seaford: The Nylon Capital Center Project

Revitalizing Seaford: The Nylon Capital Center Project
Topics Choosing a Business Banking PartnerSuccess Stories

Seaford, Delaware has a rich history dating back to the late 1800s, thriving on shipbuilding and agriculture. However, with the advent of nylon by the DuPont Corporation in the 1930s, the community underwent a significant transformation, quickly earning the title of “Nylon Capital of the World.”

This was thanks to the proximity of the DuPont nylon plant for which the location was selected due to access to raw materials and significant markets. While the area thrived for a time, welcoming in skilled and educated individuals as well as the development of The Nylon Capital Shopping Center in 1956 (a significant cultural icon for locals), economic shifts in the early 2000s led to a decline in the region’s industrial prominence, leaving the community at a crossroads.

Enter the Nylon Capital Center project, a beacon of hope for Seaford’s revitalization. Spearheaded by the 9th Street Development Company (9SDC) – and supported by WSFS Bank, another longstanding fixture in the state – this ambitious endeavor aims to transform the historic Nylon Capital Shopping Center into a modern hub for education, healthcare and entrepreneurship while preserving its legacy as a retail destination. The project responds directly to the fact that Sussex County has seen its population increase more than any other county in the U.S. over the last three years[1] and needed greater healthcare infrastructure to support its growing population.

“Our goal is to set a new standard with an elevated design aesthetic, increased walkability, and a human-scale approach, breathing new life into the historic center,” said Robert Herrera, developer for 9SDC. “The core of the space will center on research, medical institutions and entrepreneurs. Currently, the site comprises approximately 242,000 square feet of retail space across five buildings, but once completed, the site will comprise 11 buildings and 2 pad sites for future development.”

A Partner in Renewal

While 9SDC has been banking with WSFS for nearly 10 years, this will be the first time WSFS has the role of lending partner and the bank’s deep regional knowledge was a key factor in that decision.

“For this project, we wanted to partner with a bank we knew had a great reputation and was Delaware based,” said Herrera. “Multifaceted construction projects have a lot of moving parts so we wanted to partner with a bank that had the sophistication to not only understand the economics of the project but also the long-term community impact.”

The 9SDC team originally thought they would explore lending partners through traditional means, which can often involve using a broker to compare multiple prospects. But WSFS’ enthusiasm ultimately saw that process become unnecessary. “WSFS’ local know-how paired with the team’s knowledge and ability to translate complicated project funding components, like Delaware’s Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund (TIIF), assured us that they would know this project intimately right off the bat.”

The weight of this project and the renewal it promises looms heavily on the 9SDC team, but having the right partner in place meant having the guidance and partnership to navigate the road ahead.

When offering advice to other developers embarking on the process of identifying a new lending partner, Herrera advises they look for a bank with a great reputation and an eye for flexibility. “This is a multifaceted project with lots of partners so having a banking partner that would be creative and flexible was key.”

Looking Ahead

As the Nylon Capital Center project progresses, the focus remains on its long-term impact on Seaford and the surrounding region. With completion anticipated to coincide with the area’s residential growth, the project is poised to catalyze further development and opportunity. Looking to the future, 9SDC envisions the establishment of a four-year college presence in Seaford, further solidifying the town’s status as a hub for education and innovation.

“We are a long-term company with long-term goals,” said Herrera. “WSFS has made it clear from the onset that they have the same long-term commitment to our company, this project, and the city. That is critical to our joint success.”

Through strategic partnerships, visionary leadership, and a commitment to the long game, Seaford is poised for a new era.

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