(Photo of a refreshed corner on the east side)
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki announced plans for a comprehensive $50 million residential redevelopment and stabilization plan that includes taking steps to convince landlords to upgrade their holdings.
Purzycki said the effort will include investments in new construction, full rehabilitation of existing homes, façade, systems, and roof improvements for current homeowners, and the demolition of dilapidated and vacant properties.
Purzycki said the first phase of neighborhood redevelopment — totaling about $30 million — will get underway on the east side in an area bounded by Walnut to Church streets and from Fourth Street to 11th Street. The mayor said the city is engaging with the community.
One concern is likely to be the “gentrification” that has happened elsewhere with newcomers displacing long-time residents. Other issues include mass demolition projects that result in weed-filled, refuse-strewn lots if redevelopment does not take place.
Purzycki spoke about the plan in the video below.
Purzycki said improvements to east-side neighborhoods will also include 290 new streetlights to improve public safety thanks to a partnership with Delmarva Power.
The mayor said while additional crime reduction strategies will be announced in the weeks ahead, his administration continues to believe that rebuilding neighborhoods can be equally effective in reducing violence, a release stated.
Mayor Purzycki said the east side effort requires not only massive resources, but also partnerships with key organizations such as the Wilmington Housing Authority, the Delaware State Housing Authority, the Central Baptist Community Development Corporation, the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Woodlawn Trustees, the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District, and Delmarva Power.
The Mayor said in addition to the millions of dollars that will be spent over the next few years to stabilize and rebuild neighborhoods on the east side, he expects a total of $50 million dollars to be invested citywide.
The Mayor noted that his administration and City Council have committed another $4 million to fund workforce development by providing skills training and employment internships as well as an additional $5 million community investment to assist nonprofits in restoring programming for individuals, children, and families, and to launch community-based efforts to curb gun violence.
The total neighborhood appropriations announced today are the largest amount of funding ever committed by Wilmington to its neighborhoods.
Mayor Purzycki said the east side neighborhood enhancements will be anchored by a new, state-funded Bancroft School with classes and programming for students in 1st through 8th grade, along with new athletic fields and after-hours programming.
- The city has an agreement with the Woodlawn Trustees to build 20 new houses and rehabilitate 60 homes currently owned by the Trustees.
- The City has an agreement with Central Baptist CDC to fund the completion of the rehabilitation of 10 houses on the east side.
- The Wilmington Housing Authority has agreed to fully rehab 22 of their properties on the east side.
- The City has an agreement with Habitat for Humanity to improve the exteriors of up to 100 properties owned by residents to include roofs, trim, windows, and doors at no cost to homeowners; Habitat also has agreed to build 20 new houses for homeownership along Bennett Street.
- The Wilmington Land Bank and the City will improve 10 houses currently in inventory for sale for under-market value, ensuring that homeowners will have immediate equity in their homes.
- The city has already demolished 31 dilapidated houses and will demolish and rebuild 12 more houses that will be offered for sale at prices well under cost.
- The city will engage the owners of the several hundred vacant properties to either improve or sell the properties so they can be converted to productive living units and will use every tool available to encourage positive decision-making by landlord investors.
- Holloway Park, sees drug activity, partly due to poor lighting The city will add new lighting throughout the park.
- The city will ensure that minority contractors and city residents are hired to do the neighborhood work on the east side and throughout Wilmington.
- The city has signed a groundbreaking memorandum of understanding with the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District to teach the construction trades to 25 or more young people from local neighborhoods and pay them for on-the-job internships while they learn both in the classroom and the worksite.
- The city is sponsoring a unique drone and virtual reality (VR) school for 20 students who live in Wilmington. Drone classes started last weekend and VR classes will begin in March.
Wilmington is receiving $55.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds over a two-year budgeting period.
According to the release, the administration and City Council say their shared goal is for ARPA funds to be deployed throughout the city to help resolve some of the city’s most pressing needs. These include neighborhood revitalization, reducing gun violence, improving education, increasing access to capital for budding entrepreneurs, training city residents for employment, and stabilizing the government’s financial condition.