Program Description

The Downtown Development Districts Act of 2014 (the Act) was enacted by the General Assembly in order to:

  • Spur private capital investment in commercial business districts and other neighborhoods;

  • Stimulate job growth and improve the commercial vitality of such districts and neighborhoods;

  • Help build a stable community of long term residents by improving housing opportunities; and

  • Assist municipalities in strengthening neighborhoods while harnessing the attraction that vibrant downtowns hold for talented people, innovative small businesses and residents from all walks of life.

There are currently twelve designated Downtown Development Districts. Wilmington, Dover and Seaford were designated in January of 2015. Harrington, Milford, Georgetown, Laurel and Smyrna were designated in August of 2016. Clayton, Delaware City, Middletown, and New Castle were designated in August of 2019. There can be as many as 15 designated Downtown Development Districts at one time. The Governor determines when the application process for new designations is opened for applications. The application process is currently closed.

When the Governor opens a new round of applications, local governments that wish to take advantage of this program must identify a downtown district in their community and apply for designation. To make an application for designation an application form must be completed, supporting materials must be attached, and the entire packet submitted to the Office of State Planning Coordination in order for the request to be considered. The application will contain key dates and deadlines. Completed applications will be considered by the Cabinet Committee on State Planning Issues (the Committee). The Committee will make recommendations to the Governor, who will then designate additional districts at his discretion. District designations last for 10 years, and the Committee can consider up to two five year extensions.

Selection as a Downtown Development District will entitle private construction projects within the identified District to receive rebates to offset up to 20% of their capital construction costs. There are a host of other benefits that will be described in more detail in other materials. Rebate funds are administered by the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA).