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Real Estate - Commercial

Investor Buys Portions Of Cargo District As Expansion Continues

By Cece Nunn, posted Apr 21, 2021
An investor recently bought the nine apartment units at Container Park Lane off 16th Street in Wilmington's Cargo District. (File photo)
A New York investor recently bought portions of the Cargo District in Wilmington, and the sellers are using the funds to further develop and expand the district. 

The district includes parts of Queen and Castle streets and 15th, 16th and 17th streets.

Cargo District Rentals LLC, managed by another limited liability company at 520 Madison Avenue, New York City, bought Square 2, the nine apartments made from cargo containers on Container Park Lane off 16th Street.

The buyer, represented by Domenico Grillo of Keller Williams, paid $1.4 million, according to property tax records. The entity also paid $630,000 for 1608 Queen St., the property that houses the co-working space Coworx.

Broker Christian Cardamone, who owns property management firm Aloha Wilmington Real Estate, was the seller of 1608 Queen St. and represented Leslie Smith, Cargo District developer, in the sale of the live-and-work apartments. 

Smith said he’s “going to turn around and reinvest the money into the area, so we purchased some more property around it that will allow us to expand the Cargo District into a couple more restaurants and possibly some other venues.”

Modern Urban Development LLC, Smith’s entity, now owns the buildings at 615 and 619 S. 17th St. and 620 and 624 S. 17th St., which will soon be home to the new CheeseSmith restaurant.

This month, Modern Urban Development also bought 708 S. 17th St., a building that dates back to 1945, tax records show.

“All these old commercial buildings that are around in disrepair, we’re going to take them and fix them,” Smith said. “That will pull people to the neighborhood.”

Smith owns the Quonset hut at 1815 Castle St., where End of Days Distillery is located, as well as the Quonset hut at 614 S. 16th St., among other properties. 

Cardamone, who manages Smith’s Cargo District properties, owns 707 S. 16th St., which is also in the Cargo District. The property holds DesignWorx, housed in what was previously a warehouse that extends from 17th Street to 16th Street. 

“That has 12 tenants and they’re all small business entrepreneurs,” Cardamone said. “We’ve got a great list of innovators in that building that all have really small spaces and they do a ton of business out of there.”

With numerous office, retail and restaurant tenants, the Cargo District has grown from Smith’s vision into a thriving reality.

Cardomone said, “It was a really quiet place for a long time and now there’s a lot of viability there.”

Smith said demolition is not in his plans.

“I have no intention of tearing anything down, only to restore what’s there and bring some new life to it and make it something that’s usable to the entire community,” he said.

As for the future use of containers in the district, Smith said, “We will try to continue the theme of incorporating containers for every project that we’re part of.”
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