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State invites comment on draft application for revitalization projects by July 25

July 12, 2014

After signing a fiscal year 2015 budget that fully funded the state’s new urban revitalization program, Gov. Jack Markell has announced the release of a draft application for cities, towns, and unincorporated areas to be designated among Delaware’s first Downtown Development Districts.

The draft application is available on a new Downtown Development Districts website administered by the Office of State Planning Coordination. The website also includes a draft companion booklet that further explains the application process. The draft application and booklet include information such as the proposed maximum size of districts; required demographic information to be provided by applicants; and explanations regarding the content of district plans.

Stakeholders are encouraged to review the draft application and booklet, and to submit their comments and questions to OSPC by Friday, July 25, for consideration in a final application to be published by the end of the month. OSPC will administer the application process, establish criteria to determine what areas qualify as DDDs, and provide technical assistance to cities, towns, and unincorporated areas.

“The DDD program has tremendous potential to strengthen neighborhoods, to spur private investment in our downtowns, and to improve housing for persons of all incomes and backgrounds,” said Markell. “To realize that potential, it is important that cities, towns, and other stakeholders lend their insight and expertise as the program takes shape. I commend the Office of State Planning Coordination for giving stakeholders the opportunity to weigh in on the application, and I encourage all interested parties to provide their comments to OSPC by July 25.”

Created by Senate Bill 191 and funded in the FY 2015 Bond Bill at $7 million, the initiative provides economic development incentives that promote revitalization of downtown areas and surrounding neighborhoods selected through the application process.

The timeline for the designation of DDDs, including the deadline for cities, towns, and unincorporated areas to apply for district designation, will be announced when the application is finalized.

Localities will be able to apply to have a portion of their city, town, or unincorporated area designated as a Downtown Development District. Applications will be evaluated using three main criteria: need, the quality of the development plan submitted by the applicant, and local incentives offered. The governor will select at least one but no more than three districts this year. Under the program, the first three districts must include one district in each county.

Following designation, investors in the selected districts will be entitled to grants of up 20 percent of their construction costs. Grants will be available for all types of projects (residential, commercial, and mixed use), and may be used by for-profit builders and investors, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and homeowners. The grants will be administered by the Delaware State Housing Authority.