Plans are in the works to refresh historic Rodney Square this spring.
The revival of the downtown Wilmington green space includes new and relocated bus shelters, an information kiosk, increased lighting, enhanced security and landscaping.
“This is an exciting opportunity to restore the Square to its historic role as a centerpiece of downtown Wilmington; as first constructed in the 1920s,” said Chief Executive Officer of Delaware Transit Corporation John Sisson.
Rodney Square is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an example of community planning, development and civic architecture.
DTC is one of several public/private partners behind the project. Downtown Visions, the city of Wilmington and the Buccini/Pollin Group are also stakeholders.
“Many elements of the Wilmington community are committed to this restoration and the sustainability of the Rodney Square space,” said BPG President Rob Buccini. “We hope to combine a strong private side with the state and city interests in forming a Friends of Rodney Square organization.”
This is not the first time efforts have been made to revive Rodney Square.
In 1990, a similar group of government and private interests, led by the Garden Club of Wilmington, proposed the goal of restoring the square. Since that time, continuing changes and overuse have tarnished its overall condition.
Construction is slated to begin later this month with the removal of the bus shelter on 10th Street near Market Street to make room for the information/news kiosk, and eventually a cafe.
“The visitor kiosk will indicate community events and present educational information about the history of the square and its surroundings,” said Downtown Visions’ executive director Marty Hageman.
Later in the summer, two new shelters will be placed along King Street, followed by the replacement of the shelters on 10th and 11th Streets, both near the King Street end. Added features of the new shelters include real time transit information, improved lighting and security cameras.
Later plans call for restoration of the fountains and improved landscaping.
Wilmington’s Director of Planning and Development, Leonard Sophrin, said, “This restoration plan represents the input of the mayor’s office along with several city departments to ensure that Rodney Square remains the focal point of our city’s transformation.”
A combination of state, city and private money will cover the project’s cost. DTC is investing $500,000. Contributions from the other partners and potential future partners through “Friends of Rodney Square,” have not been finalized.