Wilmington, Delaware‘s revitalized Riverfront features restaurants, a boardwalk and a nature center, but 20 years ago it looked a lot like the weedy patch of land currently at 14th and Church streets near the Brandywine River.
“Our ‘before’ (picture) over there didn’t look any better than this one,” said Mayor Mike Purzycki standing at the site. “It was pretty forlorn.”
The Brandywine site’s “after” picture is yet to be determined, but officials believe it could become an economic driver for northeast Wilmington. To further that goal, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the award of a $197,500 grant to Wilmington on April 20, 2017.
The money will be used to study cleanup and development options for the 14th Street site and another location at 12th Street and Governor Printz Boulevard.
“It’s one of those hidden gems we have on this side of the city,” Purzycki said. “This is a great example of what we can do to energize the economy on this side of town.”
The grant could spur more investment in the area. Every dollar allocated to brownfields by the EPA leverages another $17 in public and private support, Rodrigues said. “This funding can spark the kind of economic development that leads to a vibrant community,” he said.
The key component of the EPA brownfields funding program is community input, Rodrigues added.
“We know that revitalization successes are best when the local communities are directly involved in the planning, assessment and cleanup,” he continued. “This ensures that the reuse of the site meets the neighborhood’s needs.”
Photos of Wilmington’s original Riverfront revitalization by Storm Cunningham.