Photo & Story by Joseph N. DiStefano 

After a 10-year exodus of banking and chemical jobs from the big buildings around Wilmington’s Rodney Square, in defiance of the every-other-day shootings in neighborhoods farther out, new and rehabbed apartment projects keep rising in Delaware’s mini-metropolis.

In particular, Buccini/Pollin Group, which owns hotels from New York to Texas, has boosted its bets on partner-brothers Rob and Chris Buccini’s hometown.

“There’s 2,000 people living downtown that were not here 10 years ago. There will be 2,000 more in 18 months,” said Rob Buccini, ticking off his firm’s projects: Two hundred HUD-backed apartments and a 500-space parking garage on Orange Street; a $175 million project to add 180 apartments, and renovate restaurants, stores, Chemours Inc. headquarters space, the ornate 217-room Hotel du Pont and the 1,200-seat Playhouse, all in the million-square-foot ex-DuPont Building; and hundreds more apartments on the stone foundations of the ruined Bancroft Mills that line the Brandywine at the north end of town.

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