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Downtown Development District program will expand

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Building on efforts to revitalize downtown areas statewide, Gov.  Jack Markell announced  that the state will accept new applications from local governments interested in being designated as Downtown Development Districts (DDD).

Residential, commercial and industrial development in designated districts may qualify for a menu of local and state incentives, including grant rebates to offset the cost of private investment.

Markell made the announcement Wednesday morning in Wilmington at the 2016 Downtown Delaware “Revitalize!” Conference.

“Delaware’s downtowns are drivers of economic growth and prosperity, and this program has proven that a small amount of state support can catalyze major private investment to energize these key areas,” said the governor. “We look forward to building on the program’s success, and supporting more investment.”

The DDD program, initially proposed by the Governor in his 2014 State of the State address, was created by legislation passed unanimously by the General Assembly that spring.

In January 2015, Markell selected areas of Dover, Seaford and Wilmington as Delaware’s first Downtown Development Districts. Wednesday’s announcement will allow cities to once again apply for the designation.

DDD Projects Underway

So far, $9.7 million in grant funding is leveraging more than $160 million of private investment in the current districts.

Projects include a 355-space public parking garage at 9th and Shipley streets. Above the garage, more than 200 apartments are planned with 12,000 square feet in ground-floor retail space.

Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity is building homes on vacant lots on New Street and Kirkwood Street in downtown Dover. In Seaford, grants are helping support the construction of quality apartment buildings on the Nanticoke River, with boat docks outside.

The Delaware State Housing Authority administers the program. Applications from local governments interested in being designated as a Downtown Development District are due to the OSPC on or before June 1, 2016. Application materials are available at stateplanning.delaware.gov.

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