Grant will help NCALL restore 9 properties in downtown Dover

This boarded-up home on North Kirkwood Street was recently demolished as part of NCALL’s Restoring Center Dover Initiative. Nine more houses in blighted areas in downtown Dover will soon be razed for future redevelopment. Submitted photo

DOVER — NCALL’s Restoring Central Dover initiative got a big boost on Tuesday when the organization announced it has received $150,000 in capital funding from the Welfare Foundation to support its redevelopment work in blighted areas downtown.

“The Welfare Foundation has been an important and consistent supporter of NCALL’s housing and community development work in Delaware over the years,” said NCALL Executive Director Joe Myer. “This grant for blight remediation illustrates the vision and foresight of the Foundation and its Trustees to create real change in distressed communities.”

NCALL recently made a block purchase of nine boarded up and vacant properties in the downtown area.

Most of the houses were known nuisance properties, magnets for crime and illegal activity and their eradication has been greeted with relief by neighborhood residents, NCALL said.

The lots will be redeveloped in the future and then sold to qualifying homebuyers. NCALL is focusing efforts on specific blocks to ensure maximum impact of their investment.

“In a relatively small area, this concentration of demolition and revitalization will have a major impact on the look of the community, the perception of downtown Dover, and the pride of those who have already invested in and continue to remain in the neighborhood,” Mr. Myer said.

Dover-based NCALL is a statewide nonprofit affordable housing and community development organization.

It provides services that include housing development, which has resulted in the creation of 50 affordable housing apartment communities leveraging in total $124,382,483.

Single-family housing development is a new area of focus that has produced four units with an additional 14 lots to be developed in the future.

NCALL is the lead agency of Restoring Central Dover a comprehensive community development effort comprised of more than 20 different organizations, including nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, institutions and residents.

Utilizing a Wells Fargo Regional Foundation planning grant, the Restoring Central Dover Plan was adopted in 2014 and identifies strategies to create a strong community, positive development and an integrated public realm.

Restoring Central Dover was instrumental in the City of Dover receiving the Downtown Development District (DDD) designation in 2015 and access to new revitalization resources.

Karen B. Speakman will replace Mr. Myer as NCALL’s executive director next Monday.

She said that things like Restoring Central Dover are what make her job at NCALL so rewarding.

“We have meaningful impacts,” Ms. Speakman said. “The story that resonates with me was when we did one of our housing complexes down in Berlin, Maryland, a couple moved into this house and they were just thrilled and they shared that pride.

“They never wanted people coming to their house before and she told a story that she always had to put cotton balls in her children’s ears so that they wouldn’t get roaches in them at night. She didn’t have to worry about that anymore.”

She added, “That’s the kind of stuff, from that, to people getting their first-time homes, it makes such a huge difference in their lives. There’s never been a dull moment.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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