A block party Thursday created excitement for the opening of a new apartment building on Market Street in downtown Wilmington.
Music boomed out of speakers, the scent of food wafted in the air and people gathered around vendors.
It was a glimpse of what developers and city leaders hope Market Street in Wilmington will become over the years—a place that people flock to.
For the development company Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc. the next step is getting people to live there.
During a block party on Thursday night a ribbon cutting ceremony took place for its new MKT apartments on Market Street.
The apartments are just one part of many efforts to make Wilmington a place to live, work and be entertained.
“Market Street is a logical connector to the central business district and the riverfront, which is an area that grows continually regardless of the state of the economy,” said Rob Buccini, founder of BPG.
“On Market Street you have great architecture. Some of it has been neglected, and it has been a pleasure restoring the buildings that have been here for hundreds of years.”
For more than a decade BPG has developed office, residential, retail and entertainment venues – including the Queen Theater on Market Street and the Westin Hotel on the Riverfront.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware, cited Wilmington’s business and entertainment attractions that he said are making the city thrive again.
“What we need now are people who live here, work here, and play here,” he said.
The new MKT 608 apartment is the first ground-up apartment community on Market Street in more than 50 years. MKT 627 took over a space that was formerly vacant and once Delaware State University’s Wilmington campus.
MKT 608 has been leasing for two months and is currently 61 percent occupied, while MKT 627 plans to open its doors Oct. 1 and is 13 percent pre-leased.
The two apartment buildings, built by BPGS Construction, consist of 74 units with studios, one and two bedroom floorplans that range from $847 to $1,574 a month.
BPG’s residential operations arm, ResideBPG, will manage the buildings and provide residents community events, discounts to local shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, and complimentary Delaware Sports League memberships.
The apartments include multi-level living space, exposed brick and original beams, floor to ceiling views of Market Street, quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances.
Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz, D-Wilmington, said she grew up in the area, and remembers Market Street’s golden age. She said there were several businesses that sold professional clothes and shoes.
“It just was a place to come downtown and there was no such thing as going to the mall—you came downtown for that,” Shabazz said. “That went away, and they turned it into a mall, and then we went to a desert land, and now we’re back to a vibrant life again.”
She said she believes providing living space is vital to the progression of Market Street—“if you build it, they will come,” she said.
“When a city’s downtown main street is doing well with businesses and jobs and nice places to live, that’s to me a representation the city itself is coming around,” Shabazz said.
Buccini said in the future there will be a host of businesses and bars, and an acceleration of entertainment opportunities in the area. He also said Delawareans should look out for continued development on Market Street, and that apartments might spread to Shipley and Orange Streets.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony Mayor Dennis Williams, D-Wilmington, said people might be deterred by a perceived crime increase in the city. He encouraged Delawareans to learn more about the flourishing aspects of the city.
“Don’t listen to the negativity. We have a great city here,” Williams said. “We have good business folks, good elected officials and good teamwork.”