Representatives from the Wilmington Housing Partnership (WHP), City of Wilmington and the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank (WNCLB) joined today with community representatives for the demolition of ten vacant, abandoned and nuisance properties in the 900 block of Bennett Street. The fourth such demolition along Bennett Street, today’s event was a continuation of a three-phased plan projected to take place over the next seven years to stabilize and strengthen Wilmington’s east side communities.
Fourteen newly constructed three-bedroom, 2.5-bath townhomes will replace the demolished buildings according to WHP Executive Director Steve Martin, who added that construction is scheduled to begin next winter with a completion date of early 2020. The new units, some of which will include handicapped accessible features, will be occupied by homeowners with an anticipated sale price of $155,000. Three units will be geared to families earning 60% of median income.
“The demolition of vacant properties reflects how public and private partnerships can positively impact our local community,” said Robert Buccini of the Buccini/Pollin Group, who is Chairperson of the WHP. “Hopefully, this project serves as a driving force to spark revitalization on the east side.”
“It is a great pleasure to join the Wilmington Housing Partnership – a key player in the development of our City’s built environment – in marking this milestone, and unveiling the promise of this latest project,” said Dr. Hanifa Shabazz, City Council President. “This is indeed a concrete step forward, and I join my fellow Wilmingtonians in expressing excitement to see what will come of these efforts, as well as how we can build and cultivate enhanced housing stock while affording more of our residents the opportunity of home ownership.”
Today’s demolition ceremony was attended by a host of private partners and City officials, including Third District City Council Member Zanthia Oliver, Rev. Terrence S. Keeling of the Central Baptist Church of Wilmington, and Delaware State Housing Authority Director Anas Ben Addi.
The project partners who are financially supporting the multiple-year effort to stabilize and strengthen east side neighborhoods include the City of Wilmington, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, Comenity Bank, Delaware State Housing Authority, M& T Bank, PNC Foundation, Rockford Woodlawn Fund, TD Bank, and WSFS Bank.
The East Side Rising and the East Side Blueprint Community Strategic plans figure prominently in this and other housing initiatives to address comprehensive neighborhood redevelopment strategies, including crime reduction, economic development, community empowerment, youth development, streetscape improvements, historic preservation, zoning, and land use.
WHP Executive Director Martin said the new comprehensive plan supports the WHP’s 30-year history of investing in Wilmington’s neighborhoods, including the addition of 112 housing units in previous housing developments such as Curlett Place, McCaulley Court, Kirkwood Manor I and II, and Hope Landing, which was completed in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
The City, WHP, land bank and its banking partners today thanked the consortium of community agencies, both public and private, that created the East Side Rising effort in 2013 and helped to focus further attention on the needs of the community.