Harrington prepares to develop downtown area: Town to apply for state Downtown Development District designation

HARRINGTON — With an application ready to submit, Harrington hopes to earn the designation of having a Downtown Development District given by the state of Delaware after Governor Jack Markell announced an expansion to the program in March.

“Delaware’s downtowns are drivers of economic growth and prosperity, and this program has proven that a small amount of state support can catalyze major private investment to energize these key areas,” Governor Markell said. “We look forward to building on the program’s success, and supporting more investment.”

Areas in Seaford, Dover and Wilmington were selected last year and have already realized $9.7 million in grant funding and more than $160 million of private investment, according to the governor.

Each designation last for 10 years with the opportunity for an additional five-year extension, according to KCI Project Manager Debbie Pfeil.

The city of Harrington hopes to be included in the next round of Downtown Development District designations, each lasting at least 10 years. This map of the proposed district area includes many areas of what is currently already known as the downtown part of Harrington. Special to The Journal

The city of Harrington hopes to be included in the next round of Downtown Development District designations, each lasting at least 10 years. This map of the proposed district area includes many areas of what is currently already known as the downtown part of Harrington. Special to The Journal

With a population below 9,000, Ms. Pfeil said Harrington is eligible to include up to 85 acres in the application due June 1 along with a resolution passed by city councilmembers supporting the process.

The application will be evaluated based on the need and impact of the district designation, quality of the district plan and quality of the local incentives offered by the city.

The city of Harrington already offers several incentives, including a downtown revitalization area tax incentive program, an expedited review process, sewer and water impact fee calculations and site plan extensions and is currently working towards a first-time home buyer realty transfer tax exemption, according to Ms. Pfeil.

Proposed incentives include a sewer impact fee reduction, job creation, new business license fee waiver and first-time home buyer tax abatement to name a few.

The application process should be an easy one this year, city officials say, thanks to a recently updated comprehensive plan and other existing documents like a healthy community action plan, zoning regulations and strategies for state policies and spending.

The Downtown Development District Plan is currently available on the city website for review by the public and will remain available until May 9. Officials hope to have the public hearing and city council process finished and adopted by May 16.

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