ISSUES AND ANSWERS: Community involvement key to revitalizing downtown Dover

What accomplishments have been made in Dover and specifically the downtown area in recent years?

Restoring Central Dover has experienced many successes since implementation in 2015. A few of our downtown Central Dover highlights are:
• NCALL built and sold two new homes. An additional 10 lots have been purchased for new construction in 2018.
• Milford Housing Development Corporation built two new homes. One home has been sold.
• Mautise LLC built three new townhomes and one has been sold.
• Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity has made homeownership a reality for 10 new residents. An additional 10 homes are planned for construction in 2018.
• Three owner-occupied homes were renovated.
• In collaboration with Wesley College, Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and residents, a Community Garden was planted on the campus of Wesley College.
• Josh Nobling, Wesley College art professor, instructed 71 residents in painting a mural that was erected at the park located on the corner of Division and Kirkwood streets.
• Lights on Dover Strong initiative installed Dust to Dawn energy-efficient LED front porch and solar-powered LED motion flood lights for backyards on 300 homes in downtown Central Dover.

What factors contributed to those successes?

The number one contributing factor to these successes is the involvement of our residents and many community partners!

What are some of the biggest obstacles facing Dover — both actual and perceived problems to economic success?

I believe the biggest obstacles facing Dover is the “perception” people have of crime and the difficulty in getting information to start a business.
The Dover Police Department is doing a great job to keep the community safe and with the Cadets being visible in the community this perception will slowly change.
The city of Dover and Downtown Dover Partnership are working on a creating a one-stop document consolidating all the information needed to start a business.
Information on incentives available, grant opportunities and contact information for getting permits submitted.

What short-term programs are in the works that will help boost economic activity downtown?

Restoring Central Dover has started an initiative called “Unlock the Block.”
The goal is vacancy reduction, business attraction and expansion of businesses. We have six property owners who have agreed to allow us to recruit prospective businesses to fill their vacant building.
Potential businesses will be recruited to enter a pitch contest. A selection committee will choose three businesses who will be eligible for grant opportunities and will receive technical assistance and help with business plans.

What can business owners, residents and citizens do?

What is their role in the city’s image? Be involved! Whether you are a business owner, property owner or resident, it will take all of us working together to create a vibrant community and downtown where people will want to live, play and work.

Will Grimes is neighborhood revitalization coordinator for NCALL Research, Inc., an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Dover that specializes in affordable housing development, education and lending.

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