NCALL to build new multi-purpose center in downtown Dover

DOVER — The National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor Research Fund, better known as NCALL, is usually in the business of helping to create new affordable housing in the Restoring Central Dover target area within the city’s Downtown Development District (DDD), alongside its partner Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity.

However, this year, NCALL is taking off on plans to build a three-story multi-purpose building of its own at the corner of West Division and North New streets in downtown Dover that will serve the community.

NCALL, which spearheads the Restoring Central Dover initiative, is utilizing a DDD large project reservation award, along with a $400,000 grant that it recently received from the Longwood Foundation, to eventually move staff from its Restoring Central Dover program to its new location downtown.

NCALL’s headquarters at 363 Saulsbury Road in Dover will continue to remain open for its main business operations.

Demolition has begun and construction is near on NCALL’s plans to combine two properties, at 223 and 225 W. Division St., into a three-story office building with around 7,920 square feet of space.

Karen Speakman, NCALL’s executive director, said the building will be fully accessible to everyone.

“There will be offices for Restoring Central Dover, a place for community meetings, Delaware State University’s small business incubator, and much more,” Ms. Speakman said. “Many thanks go to Thère du Pont, (Longwood) Foundation president, and the Longwood trustees for their generosity and vision.”

In February, NCALL was one of eight DDD projects from throughout the state that received a combined $4.6 million in rebate funding that it will also use for its new building.

“The DDD program has been a central part of our efforts to revitalize Delaware’s downtown business districts and drive private investment in our towns and cities,” Gov. John Carney said. “In just a few years, the DDD program has leveraged significant private investment in a wide variety of projects.

“Encouraging private investment that also revitalizes our downtown business districts and surrounding neighborhoods is the goal of the DDD program, and we’re thrilled that it has been so successful.”

Ms. Speakman was thrilled that the funds will combine to help the Restoring Central Dover organization move closer to the area it serves.

“We’re excited about this opportunity, as this gives us a chance to have more space for our employees so we can continue to make a difference in the Dover community,” she said. “We are ecstatic at being one of the applicants selected for the DDD Program in this round of funding.”

In addition to building its own location downtown this year, NCALL Research also received $500,000 in funding in mid-May from the Delaware State Housing Authority’s Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund that will support 10 newly constructed homes in the Restoring Central Dover target area.

The new homes are part of a partnership between NCALL and Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity (CDHFH).

That funding will help NCALL and the CDHFH address dilapidated properties within neighborhoods around Queen Street, North New Street and North Kirkwood Street. The target area is made up of 75 blocks within the downtown Dover area with a homeownership rate of just 25 percent.

Ms. Speakman said a total of 28 new homes in Dover have been completed through its partnership with the CDHFH over the past five years. The additional funding will continue to support their efforts, she said.

“We totally appreciate the support that we get from the Delaware Housing Authority and this great grant that we are receiving,” Ms. Speakman said.

“It’s really a key part of our holistic community development approach and collaborative effort that we’re doing here in Dover that we call ‘Restoring Central Dover,’ which is a collaboration of a number of different organizations, the city of Dover and neighborhood residents.”

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

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