Milford area chosen as one of five new Downtown Development Districts

SMYRNA – Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe said the city is very excited after hearing it can now continue its business of growing the town with a portion of it now designated as a Delaware Downtown Development District.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell made the announcement Wednesday to expand the statewide program which previously only included Wilmington, Seaford and Dover as having designated downtown development districts.

City of Milford officials hope the Downtown Development District designation will help curb code violations and boost the appearance of the town as it works to gain more businesses and residents. Special to The Chronicle/DDD application

City of Milford officials hope the Downtown Development District designation will help curb code violations and boost the appearance of the town as it works to gain more businesses and residents. Special to The Chronicle/DDD application

“The Downtown Development Districts program already is driving major investment in our cities, from Market Street in Wilmington to the banks of the Nanticoke River in Seaford,” said Governor Jack Markell. “More Delawareans than ever want to live and work in walkable, urban areas. This expansion will help meet that demand by encouraging private development of downtown areas statewide.”

Along with the new designation for Milford, Harrington, Smyrna, Georgetown and Laurel, the towns can now boast the incentives given through the program.

The application also required each town to develop its own, city-specific incentives to help drive residents and new businesses to their area.

To decide which municipality would have the next Downtown Development Districts, each application was reviewed by the Delaware’s Office of State Planning Coordination and scored on the need for DDD incentives, the jurisdiction’s downtown revitalization plan and the creativity of its incentive package.

“Determining an overall economic development strategy that encourages private investment from existing businesses and home owners as well as prospective investors, the City of Milford has created a series of incentives that rewards individuals and businesses that enhance the quality of living within the district,” Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe said.

“The benefits created by the State of Delaware DDD program, including the potential for grants up to 20 percent of hard costs for private investments, will create a vibrant economic environment where public-private partnerships can create jobs and further economic opportunities in downtown Milford.”

The program, administered by the Delaware State Housing Authority, began in early 2015 to help grow local municipalities in new and unique ways thanks to legislation proposed by Governor Markell.

According to state officials, $14 million in state grant funding leveraged more than $290 million of private investments between the DDD’s in Wilmington, Seaford and Dover.

Mayor Shupe said, “We are extremely excited about our selection as a Delaware Development District partner with the State of Delaware. The Downtown Development District application process has been a great experience for the City of Milford. It has allowed us to explore and evaluate the public and private, commercial, and residential assets within the downtown district.”

Director of the Delaware State Housing Authority Anas Ben Addi said, “We’re thrilled to work with homeowners, developers, and small business owners to drive investment in all of the newly-designated districts, This program is working, and we’ve seen the proof in Wilmington, Dover and Seaford. We look forward to even more progress statewide.”

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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