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Downtown Dover receives $1M grant for brownfield sites

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Brownfield, downtown Dover, post office

The old Dover Post Office will benefit from new grant funding as a brownfield site. This is a rendering of what it could look like under Downtown Dover Partnership’s revitalization plans. l PHOTO COURTESY OF FRANK DIMONDI

DOVER — As the Downtown Dover Partnership (DDP) works to improve its local community, a $1 million Brownfields Multipurpose Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been awarded to support the redevelopment of several downtrodden sites.

Brownfield properties, according to the EPA, are typically abandoned industrial or commercial sites that might have the presence of hazardous pollutants, substances or other contaminants such as asbestos, metals, petroleum, or volatile organic compounds that could complicate redevelopment or reuse. 

Instead of allowing the brownfield sites to continue sitting idle, finding themselves in more and more decay as the years trudge on, the EPA contends that redeveloping those sites into something new “increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.”

The $1 million grant to the Downtown Development Partnership is a step in the right direction for revitalization efforts in the state’s capital, with funds stemming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law co-authored by Delaware’s congressional delegation.

Specifically, the funds will benefit six environmental site assessments in two phases for each and support community engagement activities in the downtown Dover area during the process. According to a press release from Sen. Tom Carper’s office, funds will also “be used to clean up other properties in the Downtown Development District boundary of Dover.”

“This is a perfect example of the positive impact of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” Governor John Carney said in the press release. “The brownfield work being funded will set the stage for the planned transformation of downtown Dover into a place where more people will want to live, work, and shop, and we appreciate the President and the federal delegation for making the funding possible.”

Other sites listed in DDP’s grant application include Dover’s old post office, the former Dover Machine Works parking lot, a former dry cleaner and gas station on Governor’s Avenue, the old City Hall and PNC Bank building and former auto repair shops on Railroad Avenue and Forest Street..

“The Downtown Dover Partnership is so pleased to be able to expand work in environmental cleanup that has been a part of our service to the community for some time,” Downtown Dover Partnership Operations Manager Tina Bradbury said in the press release. “With this funding, we will be able to clean up sites that otherwise could not be developed due to current environmental issues, including several of the Partnership’s priority large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment project sites, as well as some more traditional storefront parcels. These sites will then turn into retail, housing, restaurant and community gathering sites – all vital parts of the Transforming Downtown Dover master plan.”

Once the potentially harmful substances, pollutants or contaminants have been removed from the sites in question, redevelopment, demolition or other construction can begin.

The brownfield grant is just one of several funding mechanisms afforded to the area, improving the community one step at a time. The federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) sourced $15.1 million in funds for downtown Dover. Another $10 million has been allocated from state funds in next year’s bond bill.

“When we were working on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, projects like this one – that not only clean up our environment but also help to create a nurturing environment for job growth and economic development – were top of mind,” Sen. Carper said in the press release. “This funding is just one part of the larger vision for revitalizing our capital city, and I’m proud that all levels of government, the private sector, and community members are coming together to make this vision a reality.”

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