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State hands out $4 million for latest downtown revitalizations

Downtown Development Districts
Delaware Public Media
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The state will fund more housing and other developments in the ailing downtowns of Dover, Wilmington and Seaford with $4 million in new grants.

It comes as part of the Downtown Development District program, now in its second year. State Housing Authority officials say this round of grants will also draw more than $45 million in private investment.

Seaford city manager Dolores Slatcher says her town’s cut of the money will be used to help construct the Residences at River Place, a housing development that's already in the works.

"What it's brought is new excitement and new energy to the downtown area, which is what we've been longing for for quite a while," Slatcher says. "The interest that it's spawned is just amazing."

In the past year, Slatcher says it's supported smaller projects, too, turning over single businesses and apartments and helping lure new restaurants. Similar projects have gotten funds in Dover and Wilmington in the past and will again this time.

 

But Dover planning director Ann Marie Townshend says the grants are good for the whole community, not just the district itself.

"Whether it's through economic development opportunity, or developing a more cohesive housing strategy, or addressing some of the crime concerns -- so there's really a big focus that goes beyond the downtown development district funding," she says. "When all these efforts and resources are leveraged, I think, when we look back in 5 or 10 years, we're going to see that we made a big difference."

New projects were applying for up to $8 million in funding originally. State officials say the half that's left over will roll into the next round.

Gov. Jack Markell is also asking for an additional $8.5 million for the districts in his 2017 budget proposal.

 

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