LRC will lead Old Town revitalization

Left to right: Anas Ben Addi, director of Delaware State Housing Authority, Valerie Miller, Milford Housing, Lee Ann Walling, Cedar Creek Planners, Brian Shannon, Laurel Redevelopment Corp, Jamie Smith, Laurel Town Mgr. Jeff Roberts, Laurel Chamber of Commerce, Chris Calio, Laurel Town Council President, Kevin Gilmore, Sussex Habitat for Humanity.

Laurel’s Old Town neighborhood is on the verge of a substantial facelift. Delaware’s Strong Neighborhoods Fund has awarded $500,000 to the Laurel Redevelopment Corporation for the construction of four new homes and the purchase-rehabilitation of six more in the section of town between Central Avenue and Oak Street (east-west) and Market Street and the waterfront (north-south).

The LRC is partnering with the Town of Laurel, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, and Milford Housing Development Corporation on the revitalization project. Habitat already has purchased two of the homes in the neighborhood and has made an offer on a third. The town is contributing a vacant lot it owns at the corner of Market and Oak streets and part of the municipal parking lot along Second Street for the construction of new homes.

NCALL, a nonprofit affordable housing provider and lender based in Dover, is providing a $1 million line of credit to finance the project. The project is within Laurel’s Downtown Development District, so it will be reimbursed by the state for a percentage of construction and rehabilitation costs. Also, because the area is in Laurel’s Historic District, rehabilitation projects will be eligible for Delaware’s Historic Tax Credit.

“With all that leverage, we hope this Strong Neighborhoods project will spur a chain reaction of revitalization efforts in Old Town and throughout downtown Laurel,” said Dr. Barry Morrison, chair of the LRC Board of Directors. “The LRC is proud to be leading this community-development effort.”

The Delaware State Housing Authority received approximately $5.5 million from various financial mortgage settlements to maintain the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund (SNHF). The SNHF is set up as a revolving fund to be used for the acquisition, renovation, and sale of vacant, abandoned, foreclosed or blighted property throughout Delaware. The funds are targeted for efforts that:

  • Support community development, and/or
  • Transform neighborhoods that are experiencing blight or other forms of stress, including high crime.

Since 1992, the nonprofit Laurel Redevelopment Corporation has purchased, cleared and redeveloped properties along Laurel’s waterfront. Projects include Abbotts on Broad Creek, the Villas on Broad Creek, and the Pierce Ellis Medical Professional Building.  The LRC also donated or dedicated parklands along the creek, including Janosik Park and Venables Park, either to the town or for public use. Market Square Park along Market Street was once the site of derelict buildings purchased and demolished by the LRC.

 

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