Demolition paves way for homes under Wilmington Land Bank program

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Long vacant buildings at 50 & 52 East 22nd Street were demolished to make way for housing for first-time homeowners.

A partnership between the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank and Habitat for Humanity will develop six new homes on the site.
A release from the city noted that Wilmington’s business community is playing a major role in supporting efforts to address the longstanding problems associated with neglected and blighted properties.

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In 2017, Barclays awarded a $1 million grant to the Land Bank, its largest private sector donation to date.

Other supporters of the Land Bank include the City of Wilmington, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, and the State of Delaware, which is providing funding of $645,000 for demolition and other activities of the Land Bank through its Strong Neighborhoods Fund, administered by the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA).

The Land Bank was created through legislation by the State of Delaware and an ordinance from the City of Wilmington to focus on getting vacant properties back into productive use.

The Land Bank is just one part of the city’s efforts to address the more than 1,500 vacant properties throughout the city. Approximately 80 percent of these vacant properties are privately-owned.

In addition to stabilizing vacant properties and preparing them for future homeownership development, the Land Bank’s other primary responsibility is to maintain the properties in its inventory that have not yet sold.

The Delaware Center for Horticulture and the Nature Conservancy of Delaware are working with the Land Bank and neighborhoods to reclaim vacant lots for greening.

A simple clean and green treatment of each lot includes removing debris, seeding and sodding the lot, planting a few trees, as well as installing a fence.

“Once this initial phase is completed we hope to continue to work closely with community residents to determine the best use for the lot based on the resident’s needs and desires in their neighborhood. This could include installing a community garden, a meadow, or a few benches to keep it as an open passive green space,” says Maria Dziembowska, drector of Urban Conservation at The Nature Conservancy of Delaware.

ikram Krishnamurthy, executive director of the Delaware Center for Horticulture, also noted that “providing opportunities and access for purposes such as community open space, beautifying side lots, and community gardens not only enhances our neighborhoods, but puts formerly vacant lots back into productive use and transforms them into community assets.”

The Land Bank makes commitment to local hiring for its contracted services so that jobs created by the Land Bank are filled by Wilmington businesses and Wilmington residents. For example, Integrity Construction, which hires graduates of Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware’s HomeWorks Construction Training and Employment Program, has been engaged for boarding, trash removal, and grass cutting services. HomeWorks prepares Wilmington residents, including those facing barriers to employment and training opportunities, for jobs in the building trades.

“Additional information about the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank is available on the organization’s website:www.wilmingtonlandbank.org.

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