In early 2003, the Town of Middletown and a group of property owners, and developers on the west side of town began working together to develop a master plan for future land use and development. The goal of the Westown Master Plan was to provide for an orderly pattern of development that provided for Smart Growth techniques that included a mix of land uses, compact development, preservation of agricultural land and natural resources, and internal multi-modal transportation connections. In addition, the master plan created plans for long-term infrastructure improvements for roadways, water and wastewater facilities, and utilities. DelDOT was approached to become a partner in the master planning effort to ensure that transportation improvements were implemented in a timely fashion, consistent with planned development. Community engagement and involvement was a key to ensure that residents and stakeholders supported plans for future growth and development. A description of how the Town of Middletown used master planning to prepare for market-ready development is provided within this Story Map.
In 2007, the Town of Middletown amended its comprehensive plan to incorporate the master-planned traffic study “Westown Circulation Concept Plan” into the transportation section of the plan. The Town felt it would be necessary to ensure that future developers participate in the plans my paying their fair share of the cost based on the traffic impacts of a given development. Inclusion into the comprehensive plan helped to ensure that future annexations and redevelopment would comply with the recommended traffic studies. As a result of this effort, 31 recoupment agreements were reached among ten developers, DelDOT, and the Town of Middletown.
Because the Westown Master Plan set forth a plan for infrastructure improvements, including transportation, the Town of Middletown has been able to attract major business investment. Middletown’s development plans also considered quality of life amenities. Attractions include a 100-acre park, a 20-acre dog park, a catch-and-release fishing pond, as well as trails for pedestrians and bicyclists.
In February 2012, Amazon.com announced its plans to build a $90 million fulfillment center in Middletown, Delaware. The Town has also worked hand-in-hand with state agencies such as DelDOT, OSPC, and the Division of Small Business. A $4 million grant from the Delaware New Jobs Infrastructure Fund was used to help pay for additional road construction and access points to other portions of the newly developed area. Additionally, Amazon was awarded $3.47 million from the Delaware Strategic Fund to support employment and pay up to three percent of capital expenses incurred. Middletown also offered the company incentives, such as ten-year tax abatement. Initially, Amazon announced that it would hire 850 full-time workers at the site. By October of 2013, the facility employed 1,600 people.
Middletown has been able to attract a world-class employer like Amazon because it has been consciously planned for development. Developing a master plan, approving changes in land use through rezoning, improving critical infrastructure, and cooperating with other government agencies have been key to Middletown’s successful market-ready development approach.