Christiana Towers

UD’s Christiana Towers, built in 1972, have closed and eventually will be demolished.

The University of Delaware is planning to build a tall radio tower on Laird Campus to replace the communications infrastructure that is currently mounted atop the Christiana Towers.

The former apartment-style dormitories – which are 16 and 17 stories tall – closed last year after 47 years and are slated for demolition.

The new communications tower will be built at the corner of a parking lot near where the Christiana Towers stand, UD spokesman Peter Kerwin said. It will accommodate equipment for emergency services communications, pager communications, cell phone services and the UD Facilities radio system. It will also contain the transmission antenna for the student radio station WVUD.

The tower will be built by Houston-based Crown Castle.

“Our goal was to find a partner to build a new communications tower that would continue to be effective and reliable for our state and municipal partners,” Sharon Pitt, vice president of information technologies and chief information officer for UD, said in a prepared statement. “We included Newark officials throughout the process to make sure this would meet their needs at a location with minimal community impact.”

Ashley Greenspan, a spokeswoman for Crown Castle, said the exact height of the new tower has yet to be determined, but it will be shorter than the height of the Christiana Towers and its antennas, which is 230 feet.

“There is still some engineering assessment that needs to be done,” Greenspan said.

Construction of the new tower is expected to begin early next year, with completion slated for June 2021.

Meanwhile, demolition of the Christiana Towers has been delayed.

In December, the UD Board of Trustees approved $3 million for the first phase of demolition, which will include asbestos remediation and interior demolition. That work was slated to begin in January and continue through the summer.

Some preliminary work was done, but the project was halted due to the pandemic, Kerwin said.

UD has not yet said how it plans to take down the exterior of the towers, which are the tallest buildings in Newark.

One option is implosion, but that creates concerns about safety and dust, Peter Krawchyk, vice president for facilities and real estate, said last year. The other option is to take the buildings down piece by piece, but their height complicates that.

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