DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks said, “Our goal was to create a facility that meets or exceeds the needs of the traveling public by providing essential travel services that lead to increased safety on our roadways, while showcasing all that our great state has to offer. This new facility has been a long time coming and is a result of HMSHost and all our partners working with us to ensure we are receiving the best investment possible for Delaware residents and the traveling public.”
Construction is set to begin in spring 2009. When the new plaza opens in 2010, the facility will be renamed the Delaware Welcome Center. Approximately 250 jobs will be created throughout the 15-month renovation timeframe. When complete, the new Delaware Welcome Center will employ 175 HMSHost associates. Presently, more than three million people annually make the existing plaza a stop on their travel itinerary.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important to create a service stop that makes the traveler’s day better. We believe the new Delaware Welcome Center will be a destination stop in travel plans, representing DelDOT’s vision of transforming the Interstate 95 corridor,” said Michael Jones, Vice President of Business Development, HMSHost. “A new on-site Delaware State Visitor Center has been created in partnership with the Delaware tourism community to further enhance the I-95 travel experience.”
The new Delaware Welcome Center will be an approximately 43,000 square foot facility that will incorporate many elements of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in design and construction. Energy and water conservation equipment and fixtures will be used throughout the facility in conjunction with local stone and recycled materials.
“HMSHost is committed to making the traveler’s day more enjoyable with restaurant favorites like Baja Fresh, Burger King, Famous Famiglia Pizza and Starbucks Coffee, and unique retail offerings such as Bijoux Terner and our new Postcards from Delaware and Z Market,” said Jones. Once inside the new facility, travelers will find a new food and retail line-up, including:
Travelers at the Delaware Welcome Center will benefit from Tax Free Shopping in Delaware, which is one of only five states in the U.S. without a sales tax.
Facility owner Delaware Department of Transportation will work closely with the Delaware Economic Development office, the Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau and other state and local tourism agencies to create a new Delaware State Visitor Center. Located inside the new Delaware Welcome Center, the state-run Visitor Center will provide information on local and statewide attractions, events and activities.
The Delaware Welcome Center renovation will be complete with an upgrade to the entire parking lot to include a new truck parking area, a new Sunoco gas service station and an A Plus Convenience Store. This site will be environmentally friendly with the addition of 50 spaces of Cabaire truck parking and anti-idle hookups.