For the city of Wilmington, the picture of security gates on storefronts along Market Street doesn’t make a good impression.
In an effort to put its best foot forward, the Wilmington Downtown Visions organization will begin taking down those security gates in the 700 block of Market Street, as part of a joint public-private project aimed at revitalizing the downtown area.
Downtown Visions hopes the renovations will bring in new businesses and residents who can live in new apartments located above these businesses. Officials point to the LOMA district from Martin Luther King Blvd. to 4th Street as an example of how the renovation would work.
Will Minster, Director of Development for Downtown Visions, said one of the complaints of the downtown district is that people say the sidewalks roll up at 5:00 p.m. He said there isn’t an issue with the sidewalks, but rather, the gates came crashing down. He emphasized that there are now safety patrols in all areas of downtown, so there isn’t a need for a security fence.
State and local officials were on Market Street to announce the project. Delaware Economic Development Office Secretary Alan Levin said the Wilmington project mirrors other revitalization efforts in Newark, Milford, Seaford, and Dover. He said other Wilmington neighborhoods have their own revitalization efforts, saying the Southbridge and West End neighborhoods are ready to announce their plans as well.
The name of today’s project was “Tearing down the Walls.” Minster says he got the idea from the famous 1980’s speech by President Ronald Reagan who told then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down the walls in Berlin.” Minster said it was bottling up people there. “Here we want to bottle up perception [about Wilmington], we just want to get rid of it,” he said.