Downtown demolition marks first phase in Millsboro town hall/police headquarters swap

MILLSBORO — Demolition has begun at the future site of Millsboro’s new municipal hub that will mark major revitalization at the eastern edge of the downtown district.

A two-story house and the former Millsboro Auto Supply store — town-owned properties — are being demolished in the initial phase of the project, in which town hall and police department will swap places.

Under the plan, Millsboro Police Department, currently nestled between Main Street and Washington Street, will move to the current Millsboro Town Center complex on Wilson Highway once the new town hall near the current police headquarters is completed.

Millsboro Mayor John Thoroughgood said he is hopeful site work can commence in the coming months.

“We’re in the planning stages now,” he said.

The new two-story town hall will overlook the town’s gateway from John J. Williams Highway and the Route 24 bridge.

“It’s fixing up the town, the entrance to the town,” said Mayor Thoroughgood.

Downtown parking will be enhanced as plans call for several dozen new spaces to be located between the new municipal facilities.

“We’re going to gain like 35 parking spaces for downtown in between the town hall and the police station. The downtown can use those parking spots,” Mayor Thoroughgood said.

Heavy demolition equipment arrived last Thursday. Most of the house was demolished by Monday afternoon. Demolition will next target the former Millsboro Auto Supply, a building that has been vacant for about six months.

Plans are still in design phase and the town has a ballpark square-footage figure in mind.

“We don’t know yet but we’re using 12,000 square feet as a starting point for design,” said town councilman Tim Hodges. “We’re just in the process of coming up with a floor plan.”

The cost has not yet been determined but Mayor Thoroughgood said he is hoping “it’s $3 million and less.”

The town had initially budgeted funding for expansion of the current police headquarters. But plans changed.

“Originally, it was going to be the police station. But when we got the design of the police station building the chief needs, it would fit on the property but there was no room for growth, no room for the cars, and we would be out of room within a year or two,” said Mayor Thoroughgood. “So, we figured with town hall there is only six or eight cars max, so it just makes sense since we already own this building to just swap out. Plus, we would gain 35 parking spots down there where the police station would gain nothing.”

Additionally, a police base at the town center location would provide easier response options and greatly eliminate traffic congestion that often occurs in downtown Millsboro. Plus, the town has experienced immense commercial growth along U.S. 113 as well as residential growth, most notably Plantation Lakes, located in the western portion of the town.

Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway has stated benefits at previous town council meetings.

“Millsboro town hall would be a better solution for that. You can go to multiple areas and go different directions, where here, we are limited to one way. We are at the edge of town limits,” said Chief Calloway. “When you think about it, we don’t normally go east. When we leave our police station, we have to go west on (Route) 24. If you respond to any emergency complaint, we have one way to leave here, which can present a challenge.”

If all goes well in a semi-perfect world, expectations are town hall and the police department will be in their new homes in a couple years.
“I’m looking at two years,” Mayor Thoroughgood said.

The future fate of the brick structure that now houses the police is being discussed.

“We’ve got a couple ideas of what we’re going to do with that building, but right now it’s just for discussion,” Mayor Thoroughgood said. “There are a couple things we want to do with it.”

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