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Wilmington gets bulk of state downtown development grants

Downtown Development Districts
Delaware Public Media
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Gov. Jack Markell (D-Delaware)  announced the first round of Downtown Development District grants, with the bulk of the $5.6 million allocated heading to Wilmington.

13 larger-scale projects were selected from a pool of 16 applications.  10 in the state’s largest city will receive $4.7 million.

All three applications from Seaford and Dover were approved and are receiving about $835,000 combined.

A 72-unit apartment complex is being built along the banks of the Nanticoke River in Seaford near Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.  That's receiving a $671,000 grant

Part of the roughly $164,000 allocated to Dover will go toward five affordable housing projects overseen by Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity.  The plan is to build two of them beginning in June.

Developer Joe Petrosky was awarded the other Dover grant. He owns the Priscilla Building on the corner of State and Loockerman Streets and plans to use the money to remodel office and apartment spaces.

“I believed in Dover 20 years ago when I bought the building and it’s been a struggle since then, but I believe we’re about ready to make progress," said Petrosky. "I believe the grant is greatly appreciated and real helpful.”

Markell says he thinks the slow start for districts outside Wilmington will not last.

“I think this also feeds on itself. I mean, I think when other folks see this building being revitalized, when they see five new homes going in, I think that’ll attract more interest.”

Another $1.3 million is still available for smaller grants that may be applied for after any development work has been completed.

The program is open to any developer spending at least $25,000 within the designated zones, bankrolling up to 20 percent of their capital costs. 

The projects involved in this first round of grants represent nearly $115 million in development.

Markell requested another $7 million for the initiative in his proposed fiscal year 2016 budget.

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