by Terry Rogers
Since September 2016, almost $9.4 million from private investors has helped Milford’s downtown area grow. In addition, the State of Delaware has awarded or reserved over $1.2 million in grant funds for many projects in the area.
“We’re also seeing improvement in our code enforcement efforts,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said. “Now that the report to Council is online, I am getting calls from people whose property was in violation but has now been repaired, asking me to take the information down. Many of the properties in the first report to Council have been remediated.”
Several of the homes that were in serious disrepair have been demolished, including one at 20 Marshall Street and at 112 Northwest Third Street. A new home is planned for the Marshall Street location but there are no plans at this time for the Third Street lot. There are plans to demolish a home at 415 South Washington Street as well. Other properties have fresh coats of paint as well as repaired porches and roofs.
“The former Coolspring Cottage has been sold,” Pierce said. “I believe it will be an accounting office. The hospital has received its Certificate of Occupancy to begin moving in equipment and they are on target for a February 2019 opening. The Delaware Veteran’s Home is planning an expansion. A new townhome complex, Winward on the River, is planned for Rehoboth Boulevard and the owners of Milford Diner have received their Certificate of Occupancy.”
Work is being done at the former marina property near Route 1. Pierce explained that Touch of Italy recently had the site plans approved for their wholesale bakery which will be located in the Milford Industrial Park. They have pulled permits for the downtown location as well.
“So far, Touch of Italy has received just over $21,000 in waived building and impact fees,” Pierce explained. “They will also get a three-year full tax abatement. However, since they applied, we are giving projects a ten year abatement. That means Touch of Italy is actually getting less than businesses who come into Milford today and meet the criteria for incentives. As a comparison, the DBF project had $45,000 in fees waived for their new offices. These are all incentives designed to encourage investment downtown and no company is given special treatment.”
Pierce explained that the City was about two-thirds through rental inspections in Sussex County and only 17 percent have had minor issues that needed to be addressed. The City will begin inspecting Kent County properties in 2019.
Several properties in the Downtown Development District are eligible to apply for state grants, Pierce said. Not all of them have or plan to apply, but some are taking advantage of the program. The next deadline to apply for DDD grants is in December and the awards will be announced in early 2019.
“Anyone who wants to know more about DDD projects or the current status of code violations in the City can find links on the City of Milford website,” Pierce said.
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