On Monday, October 23, Governor John Carney along with state and local officials took a walking tour of downtown Milford to view Downtown Development District (DDD) projects. The state has invested $413,482 in DDD projects in Milford which has led to a $3.7 million investment in the town. Governor Carney toured Davis, Bowen & Friedel, the Delaware Music School, and the Bank House. He also received information on the progress of the former Lou’s Bootery and Touch of Italy projects.
“We toured Wilmington and Dover earlier today to see what projects had been completed and I am amazed at how different each DDD community is,” Governor Carney said. “Many have needed addressing for a longtime with some of them eyesores and others simply needing a facelift or repurpose. These projects don’t just benefit the building but also allow someone to start a new business or to expand an existing business.”
Mike Wheedleton of Davis, Bowen & Friedel told the governor that the DDD allowed their company to expand. He said that the architecture and engineering firm had been in business since 1983 and in Milford since 1995. When they learned that the building would be available, they decided that it would be the best opportunity to combine two Milford offices into one and expand.
“We could not have done this without our landlord, Dennis Silicato,” Mr. Wheedleton said. “A lot of people are unaware that you don’t need to own the building to take advantage of the DDD. The grant money available helped us create a new façade and to create a space that is 16,000 square feet so that we can hire new employees and continue to grow in this town.”
Milford is one of the latest towns in Delaware to receive the designation. Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe said that when the City was turned down in 2015, they kicked off a strategic plan for the downtown area which eventually became the Riverwalk Rebirth plan.
“We spoke to local business owners, citizens and others to determine what they wanted to see in the downtown area,” Mayor Shupe said. “When the DDD application came around again the following year, we were better able to show the state our vision for the City. We are extremely pleased that the vision that developed from the strategic plan is coming to life.”
After his visit to Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Governor Markell walked to the Delaware Music School who moved from 10 South Walnut Street to the building vacated by the architectural firm. Amos Fayette, Director of the Music School, took Governor Carney on a tour of the building which will allow them to triple enrollment over the next five years.
Standing in front of the former Wilmington Trust building, Mayor Shupe explained that he had spoken to the owners of the building and that they believed all State permitting requirements had been met. They hoped to open their doors in the spring. Governor Markell asked about the former Lou’s Bootery building which is under construction currently. Mayor Shupe said that Dan Bond, who also owned The Towers, the Jewell-Tharp Building and the former Marshall House, was in the process of renovating several historic buildings in town and this had delayed some of the work on the Lou’s Bootery building.
Governor Carney then walked to the Bank House on the corner of North Walnut and Northeast 2nd Street. The building, which was built in the late 1800s to house a bank, is being renovated as a bed and breakfast. Mike Rivera and his partner, Denise, used DDD funds to completely renovate the building, showing Governor Carney before photos before giving him a tour of the almost completely restored home. There is already a waiting list for rooms at the bed and breakfast which received their Certificate of Occupancy from the City last week.
According to a report by Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA), Milford has noticed an increase in code violation repairs since the program’s inception. The DDD funds can be used on either commercial property or residential property and several of the funded projects in Milford were the rehabilitation of a single-family home.
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