Habitat’s largest housing project is set for dedication

The Mill Stone development is considered to be one of the biggest projects in Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County’s 24 year history.

The huge project which is in a neighborhood that was once deteriorating with dilapidated homes and undeveloped lots in Wilmington is being transformed, as part of an initiative to bring more affordable housing to the city.

Volunteers ranging from state leaders to professional athletes have had a hand in some of the construction work.

It’s one of the largest revitalization housing projects in Delaware. Inside some two-story town homes that sit on Vandever Avenue in Wilmington.  There’s open living space on the first floor and upstairs you’ll find up to four bedrooms in some of them. However, it did not always look this way.

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Gov. Jack Markell put in hours of work not long after construction first kicked off last year, donating some sweat equity on the Mill Stone project.  “Anytime I can get a hammer in my hand it could be a little bit dangerous, but it’s a great opportunity for all of us,” said Markell.

An opportunity that even Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Vance Worley took advantage of during the first phase of construction which hits close to home for the professional player, because his father works on houses for a living.

“He’s a little bit more talented when it comes to construction.  Growing up watching him work on houses…I have an idea what I’m doing,” said Worley.

And Worley isn’t the only one with some hands on experience.

“I kind of grew up doing a little bit of construction so i kind of have a decent idea of what’s going on …and I’m learning too,” said volunteer Nathan Webb.  Webb is actually learning to build what will soon become known as his own home.  “It’s a beautiful opportunity.  Habitat is a great organization.  It’s nice to come out and work with the volunteers.”

Even though work is still being done, volunteers are getting closer to completing the housing development that will include 21 new homes.

“We are on schedule.  Yes, we’ll be dedicating our home, the first group of homes phase one in late April, then we’ll be working towards finishing the second and third phases in the coming six months,” said Habitat spokesman Brian Cunningham.

Which means volunteers will be moving onto something different in the near future.

“I think it’s a wonderful organization though.  I’ve met some really good people who have to put sweat equity hours and work for their homes, and it’s really been fun working with them.” said Lee Holtzclaw, a volunteer.

Meanwhile, the homes are being offered to low- and moderate-income families approved by Habitat. And they’re starting at $125,000 with no-interest mortgages. But what’s even better is that a community will occupy a site that was once an auto body shop and dry cleaning business.

“Oh, it’s awesome.  It’s cool to see it come out of what was there before, which is a concrete and paved slab, and see the beautiful homes grow and coming out on the job site and seeing thirty to forty volunteers and contractors and different types people all working together to build these affordable homes,” said Cunningham.

The property will be dedicated on Friday, April 20.

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