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Wilmington City Council passes zoning changes for Riverfront East

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
The eastern bank of the Christina River in Wilmington

The City of Wilmington will adopt new zoning requirements for waterfront districts—including the east Christina riverfront, which is slated for major development.

The zoning rules Council passed Thursday apply to the W4 district, which covers areas in or near Brandywine Village, the 11th Street Bridge, the 7th Street peninsula, the train station, and the eastern bank of the Christina River, where the City and development organizations want to see a transformation.

The new rules limit drive-throughs, outdoor storage and manufacturing, and require certain parking lot landscaping to increase tree cover and stormwater management. 

Matthew Harris, a planner with the City, says the goal  is to keep the zone good for housing, businesses and stores. 

“This amendment will encourage land use patterns and design that is appropriate for an urban context, and focused on walking and biking,” Harris said. 


But development plans for Riverfront East have brought concerns about gentrification. 

Councilwoman Shané Darby echoed these as she voted simply “present” on the zoning changes. The rest of Council supported the changes.“I can’t be in support of much happening at the riverfront where we’re not having real conversations about what’s going on,” Darby said. “No one’s having conversations about local hire and building down there, or people living down there and inclusionary housing. But we wanna make sure our riverfront look pretty, don’t we?”

Councilwoman Michelle Harlee, who represents the Riverfront and neighboring Southbridge, pushed back, saying these conversations are happening, and residents have been informed of the zoning changes.

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