Some Believe Downtown Development District Could Stir Economic D - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Some Believe Downtown Development District Could Stir Economic Development in Delaware Towns Like Smyrna

Posted: 10/03/2017 20:45:00 -04:00 Updated:

DOVER, Del. --- Ron Gomes was busy moving products with a forklift on Tuesday morning at Painted Stave Distillery in Smyrna.

Gomes, a co-owner of the Commerce Street distillery, said the business is hoping to take advantage of the state's Downtown Development District program as part of its expansion efforts.

"The most important one is perhaps a 4,800 square foot structure we want to throw up---essentially a pole barn to house our barrels," he said.

Painted Stave hopes to take advantage of grant rebates offered through the DDD program, intended to offset up to 20 percent of the cost of real property investments in particular downtown areas in some towns and cities.

The program offers grants to smaller projects and larger ones, with the latter category falling into improvements that cost more than $250,000. The state announced on Tuesday it was accepting new applications for grants for larger projects through Dec. 15.

Anas Ben Addi, director of the Delaware State Housing Authority, said the program has spurred hundreds of millions of dollars and offers a way to offset the cost of rehabbing or redeveloping properties.

"You can either come in to us when your project is already done and put in an application or you can come in for what we call a light reservation, which gives you six months commitments so you can finish your project and come back for the cash," he said.

Some people believe the program could be used to stimulate economic development in places like Downtown Smyrna, which has seen some turnover in the last year or so.

In recent weeks, the Drunk'n Baker, located on the corner of Main and Commerce Streets, closed its storefront.

"There were several issues over time that just caused everything to come to a sudden and a bit unexpected halt," the business wrote on its Facebook page.

But across the street, the building that once housed the Inn at Duck Creek, now contains a pub and cafe.

Town officials have pointed to events like Smyrna at Night, which draws people to the downtown area as well as various economic development efforts.

Peyton Perrine of Smyrna said the town should continue to promote the small-town charm of the Downtown area when attracting businesses.

"If the municipality would advertise it more or y'know get the word out to the public, it probably would help."

Gene Shaner of Smyrna said start-up businesses need to make sure prices for food or service remains affordable.

"You can't over-price yourself," he said. "We're not a Wilmington, we're not a Newark. We're Downtown Smyrna."


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