Second round of Downtown Development District grants opens March 1

It was just over a year ago that Gov. Jack Markell announced the creation of the Downtown Development District Grant Program. Last year, the state announced the first 13 projects to receive funding.

Now, the governor has announced another 11 projects for 2016 – and there is so much interest in the program, the Delaware State Housing Authority plans to initiate another round of DDD fundingthis spring. The round will open on March 1, with applications due by May 15.

These grants are tremendous incentives for developers in Wilmington, Dover and Seaford as projects to revitalize those downtown districts continue to gain momentum – especially in in Wilmington’s Market Street area. Developers who receive DDD grants are eligible for rebates up to 20 percent of their construction costs. Grants are awarded when projects are complete.

The first round of funding for 2016, which has just been announced, will distribute $4 million in DDD funding among 11 projects, leveraging $45 million in private investment in commercial and residential development among all three cities.

The project you’re most likely to see as you drive through Wilmington is at 117 Market Street, near Martin Luther King Boulevard. James R. and M. Lorraine Nelson plan to demolish the unstable, 127-year-old building there to build a new six-story building, with a bank and café at ground level and the marketing and technology firm Trellist on the top five floors.

“I was overcome by excitement upon hearing that I have been awarded a grant to improve my property on Market Street in Wilmington,” Nelson said. “This grant will make possible the realization of a vision to not only create a new and iconic building on Wilmington’s very visible Martin Luther King Boulevard, but will enable a very viable and substantial tenant to continue to expand his business in Wilmington.”

Other projects include:

  • Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity will build five single-family homes on North New Street in downtown Dover for low-income homebuyers.
  • 829 Market LLC plans to redevelop the property at 829 Market Street in Wilmington to create seven walk-up apartments above 5,000 square feet of ground-floor space.
  • MauTiste Investment Group will build three duplexes, or six townhomes, on Reed and South Kirkwood streets in downtown Dover.
  • Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware plans to redevelop six existing houses, some vacant and blighted, to create a dozen new affordable homes to promote homeownership in Wilmington’s downtown district. The houses are located along West 6th Street, West 5th Street and North Washington Street.

All of this redevelopment and investment in our downtowns comes at a pivotal time, as young millennials increasingly choose to live and work in cities rather than suburbs. If those trends continue, these downtown districts could be vitally important to attracting young residents and workers to our state.

“Our Downtown Development Districts program continues to leverage significant private investment in Delaware’s downtowns,” saidGovernor Markell. “More Delawareans want to live and work in urban areas, so this kind of revitalization of our cities will drive future economic growth. We’re seeing great progress.”

Developers interested in the next round of funding should watch the DSHA website for details.

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