Dagsboro hoping to land Downtown Development District designation


DAGSBORO — The town of Dagsboro for a second time is applying to the state in hopes of landing designation as a Downtown Development District community.

Earlier this year, Gov. John Carney announced the expansion of the Downtown Development Districts Program, which is geared toward urban revitalization.

Several large areas in Dagsboro’s town limits have been identified in the application that must make the May 15 deadline. Those areas include Piney Neck Road and Clayton Street.

“We’re hoping some developers, that this might push them toward us,” said Dagsboro town Administrator Cindi Brought. “Maybe some developers will reach out to us in the designated areas that we have for the Downtown Development District.”

Specifically, the town’s application encompasses the former Heathman Jewelers property. Last summer, Matthew and Karen Kern unveiled their plans to renovate that property and turn it into a restaurant/bar. That property borders the Clayton Theatre and Bodenweiser properties on Main Street.

“They have agreed with us to go ahead and use their project,” Ms. Brought said.

“It’s in the works,” said Mr. Kern. “My wife and I are hoping that if Dagsboro is selected, we want to be a part that. We see it as such a cute, quaint, small town. We want to start building the right type of business to support the other great businesses that are already downtown. We like the small-town charm of Dagsboro.”

Selection as a DDD entitles private construction projects within the identified district to receive grants to offset up to 20 percent of their capital construction costs.

“People have to be on board 100 percent, because if they accept that application they have got to come to fruition before they get any rebate,” Ms. Brought noted.

Investors who make qualified improvements to residential, commercial or industrial properties in designated districts may also qualify for additional state and local development incentives. Grant funds to investors are administered by the Delaware State Housing Authority.

The Downtown Development Districts Act of 2014 was enacted by the General Assembly to leverage the resources of state government in a limited number of designated areas in Delaware’s cities, towns, and unincorporated areas in a multifaceted effort to:

•Spur private capital investment in commercial business districts and other neighborhoods;

•Stimulate job growth and improve the commercial vitality of such districts and neighborhoods;

•Help build a stable community of long term residents by improving housing opportunities; and

•Assist municipalities in strengthening neighborhoods while harnessing the attraction that vibrant downtowns hold for talented people, innovative small businesses and residents from all walks of life.

In January 2015, downtown areas of Seaford, Dover, and Wilmington were designated as Delaware’s first three DDDs.

In August 2016, five new Districts were announced as Smyrna, Milford, Harrington, Georgetown and Laurel created districts and local incentives.

Dagsboro developed a Downtown Development Plan in 2015 but was not designated at that time.

A resolution seeking application approval is on the agenda for the Monday, April 15 town council meeting.

Designation would be “a huge benefit for the town,” Ms. Brought said.

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