About $800,000 is still up for grabs from the Downtown Development Districts grant program for residential and commercial investments in designated districts (at the moment, that’s Wilmington, Seaford and Dover).
Jonathan Starkey, spokesman for the Delaware State Housing Authority, said small business-owners and homeowners with residential rehab projects can apply, and so can someone who’s renting or leasing a space, as long as they have their landlord’s approval.
“The big deal for us is: We want people to know that money is available for small projects, and Tonic is a good example,” Starkey said in an email.
He’s talking about the $48,837 check the downtown Wilmington bar (formerly known as Deep Blue Bar and Grill) received from Gov. Jack Markell and Delaware State Housing Authority Director Anas Ben Addi on Monday as program grant money.
The program aims to help revitalize Delaware cities and offers money for things like improvements to a building, grading and paving, demolition, landscaping and accessibility improvements. Since the program began last year, $10 million in state funding has precipitated more than $160 million in the downtown areas of Wilmington, Seaford and Dover, Starkey said in a release.
Tonic owner Dan Butler will be using the money for new wood floors, restoration of the bar top and full kitchen renovations.
“We were either going to reboot and invest, or we were going to close,” Butler said in a release. “Unequivocally, the project would not have gone forward without the investment from the Downtown Development Districts program.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, Markell announced that other cities in Delaware — aside from the three that piloted the funding program in 2015 — can apply to be designated as Downtown Development Districts and can do so until June 1.
About $4 million is still available for large projects in the spring 2016 funding round, which closes next month, Starkey said. Large projects require investments of more than $250,000.
To qualify for a small project grant, investments have to be more than $15,000 but less than $250,000, Starkey said. More details about how to apply are online.