by Terry Rogers
On Monday, January 27, Milford City Council approved the final site plan for the 200 Front Street, LLC project. The project is a partnership between Dan Bond, John DiTomasso and Milford Housing Development Corporation and will be constructed using $500,000 in grant funds provided by the Delaware State Housing Authority as a “Strong Neighborhood” development.
“Since we received initial approvals 15 months ago, we have made significant changes to the parking area for this project,” Ring Lardner of Davis, Bowen and Friedel, the engineering firm working with Bond on the project, said. “Initially, we had an entrance off Church Street that would have allowed parking for seven of the eight proposed townhouses with the eighth townhome accessing parking from Northwest Front Street. We were also trying to reuse utilities that currently exist for the homes we plan to demolish in the area, but we found several issues. Working with the neighbors who requested parking near their home, Mr. Bond was willing to reconfigure the entire parking area so that there is no longer a need for access from Route 14.”
Councilman Jason James asked whether safeguards had been taken to prevent stormwater run off and Lardner explained that they had actually made drainage in the area better. The project will use porous concrete and catch basins so that rainwater will now flow through the parking area not over sidewalks and into drains on Front Street as it does now.
Laticia Davis, who lives on Church Street adjacent to the new project expressed some concerns about density, stating that she felt there were too many townhouses proposed. Lardner explained that there had been multi-family buildings on the property on the past that have since been demolished and that the density for the new townhomes was actually significantly lower.
“Do you agree that this new project will enhance the area?” Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said, to which Davis replied that she felt it was a much better option than what was there currently. “I am happy to know that you are working with the neighbors. Parking was always my main concern but this new plan seems to address that well. We desperately need affordable housing in Milford and this fits that bill well.”
The Strong Neighborhood grant may be used for construction financing but the grant funding eventually is turned over to the homeowner. In order to qualify, buyers must have a family income of no more than 120 percent of the average median income for Kent County, which is around $75,000 for a family of four. Each buyer receives $50,000 to help finance the home which does not have to be repaid as long as the buyer lives in the home for ten years. Because the project is also located in the Downtown Development District, transfer taxes are waived and the buyer receives an abatement on city property tax for five years.
The eight town homes will replace several older homes that are in disrepair and beyond rehabilitation. The new homes are designed to fit in with the 19th Century feel of the neighborhood.
During the unanimous vote to approve the project, Council expressed their opinions that it could only enhance an area of town that had deteriorated over time. Councilman Mike Boyle stated that he felt the project would enhance the streetscape and complimented all involved in bringing the project to fruition.
Construction on the project is expected to begin this spring.