According to a January 11, 2015 press release, Governor Markell announced that the cities of Seaford, Dover, and Wilmington have been selected for designation as Downtown Development Districts (DDDs). Per DDD program guidelines, the first three DDDs must include one district in each county.
Markell said, “The Downtown Development District program has generated a high level of enthusiasm and interest, and I was impressed by the overall quality of the applications submitted. In addition to demonstrating significant need, each of the winning applicants submitted thoughtful plans with detailed strategies to strengthen neighborhoods, spur private investment, and improve housing opportunities for residents of all walks of life. On behalf of the state, I look forward to working in partnership with the winning applicants as they make their plans a reality.”
The DDD program was created by legislation proposed by the Governor in 2014. Senate Bill 191 was signed into law by the Governor on June 5, 2014 and was approved for a $7 million allocation by the Delaware General Assembly. The DDD Grant program is modeled in part after a Virginia program that has proven successful in leveraging significant amounts of private investment in under-served areas.
Under the program, designated districts will be entitled to receive significant development incentives and other benefits to spur investment and community development. Investors who make qualified real estate investments in DDDs will be entitled to receive grants of up to 20% of the cost of their investments. The Delaware State Housing Authority, which administers the program, has produced a DDD Grant Program FAQ information sheet for investors who may wish to apply for a grant in a designated district.
A total of nine local governments applied to have a portion of their city, town, or unincorporated area designated as a DDD. The applications were evaluated in accordance with three main criteria: 1) need and impact, 2) the quality of the district plan submitted by the applicant, and 3) local incentives offered.