DOVER — The Downtown Dover Partnership hired Ken Anderson, a veteran state economic development official and project manager, as its real estate development director earlier this month.
[caption id="attachment_233753" align="alignright" width="225"]Ken Anderson | PHOTO COURTESY OF KEN ANDERSON[/caption]
Anderson and his newly-formed firm Capital City 360 Consulting LLC will be responsible for the full-time work to breathe life in the DDP’s “Capital City 2030: Transforming Downtown Dover” master plan plan, through recruiting developers, identifying funding and streamlining work needed on key sites.“Downtown has a committed community of people that love Dover, the architecture and its history,” Anderson said. “There are challenges that it faces – with infrastructure, zoning and low-income [population] and crime. But those are all issues that are familiar with small towns and urban settings. But as the state capital, that creates unique opportunities and frankly necessity to do what’s possible to unlock it.”Anderson has held a variety of roles over the decades, but most prominent among them was director of entrepreneurial and small business support for the now-defunct Delaware Economic Development Office from 2007 to 2017. He helped the state’s rising efforts to boost early-stage programs through services of assessments, mentorships and outlining growth strategies.“The rest was history after I applied. I really got my foothold in what’s happening with the state in that position,” he said. “We did the One Million by One Million accelerator, pop-up programs and I was the liaison for the Unlock the Block initiative for downtown Dover. My affiliation with small businesses goes way back to there, and it’s just really starting to evolve from there.”City officials and the DDP have been working for months on a new future for the downtown district, culminating with a master plan that outlines a $500 million redevelopment plan for 15 acres of land that includes mixed-use development. Key to that plan would be hiring a property development director on a contract to exclusively handle the day-to-day work of recruiting prospects.However, the DDP opted to hire a full-time staff member rather than a contractor due to a limited pool of candidates. Independent contractors require franchise taxes, liability insurance, and other requirements. A full-time staff member could bring a long-term presence to the project.“We’ve met our goal to hire a strong, qualified candidate for the position and to simultaneously have responses from qualified developers in hand,” DDP Executive Director Diane Laird said. “Ken is a strategic thinker, he will hit the ground running, and this is exactly what we need to support our aggressive timeline in preparing for new residents and providing additional amenities in the Capital City.” Anderson said his name came up with the DDP Board of Directors earlier this year due to his background with the state, but also due to his resume through successful consulting work and holding leadership positions in corporate America.Other notable posts include assistant vice president with Integrated System Analyst and vice president of fiber-optic company Adesta Communications, where he oversaw the network connection in Colorado. From there, Anderson started a consulting firm and eventually signed on as a principal with Goeins-Williams Associates, which is run by his wife, Devona Williams.After his time with the state government, Anderson continued to be involved by serving on the Supplier Diversity Council until 2019. He now is the senior managing director of Wakanda Global Trust, a philanthropic firm that manages humanitarian projects in America and abroad.As Anderson is settling in at the DDP, his first order of business is reading the master plan, cover-to-cover.“I want to get intimately familiar with the vision. You cannot look at the document and not be inspired,” he said. “But I believe my next claim to fame will be 120 South Govenors Ave. and moving dirt as soon as possible, and that could be in the next year.”120 South Govenors is one of the few properties owned by the DDP, which could expedite its development. The master plan envisions that site as mixed-use, including apartments and a small-scale grocery store. Other properties owned by the DDP include those on Railroad Avenue and at 129 Govenors Ave.“My ultimate goal is to put the DDP in a position where we can start construction – because I believe that activity takes this dream into a reality, and that will draw even more interest,” Anderson said.
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