Bill that would speed up road improvements around Dover Mall introduced

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A Kent County legislator is introducing legislation aimed at fast-tracking road improvements in the Dover Mall area

The bill would allow projects to move forward, without being consigned to a state funding priority list.

Thes bills are sponsored by state Rep. Bill Carson, D-Smyrna and would allow Dover and Kent County to take out bonds for transportation projects,m

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As of now, New Castle County and Wilmington are authorized to use those funding mechanisms. The city, county and school district would be required to sign off on the financing.

“In these difficult budget times we have to look for creative solutions to move Delaware forward and bolster local economies,” stated Carson. “This one-of-a-kind partnership could become a model for the state at a time where we need transportation projects funded, but our state revenues are lacking.”

The bills cameout of a proposed traffic alleviation and expansion plan around the Dover Mall. The $31 million project calls for a new exit along Del. 1 near the back of the mall and the construction of roads that run parallel to the highway.

Developers and local officials tout this as an opportunity to draw consumers to the Dover area and add high-end stores to the mall in order revamp the property, which has three retail giants are closing hundreds of stores.

So far, no closings have been announced at Dover Mall. However, the property has, at times, been listed as a potential “ghost mall” should the anchors pull out.

At present, improvements around the mall would not move into the design stage until 2021.

Under Carson’s bill, construction would begin by 2019 and would be financed through potentially three sources: a 50-cent toll, tax increment financing, and special development districts.

“It’s impossible tooverstate the importance of driving economic development in Dover and Kent County, both by building on our success improving growth downtown, and by protecting and supporting the anchors of our regional economy, such as Dover Downs and, in this case, the Dover Mall,” saidSen. Brian Bushweller, a Kent County Democrat.“Wilmington and New Castle County have accessto TIF and special development districts to help support strong economic growth; making those tools available to our state’s second-largest city should be a matter of common sense.”

House Bills 115, 116, 117, 118 and 119 have been assigned to the House Administration Committee.

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