Cities are wonderful places to live, work, shop, enjoy, and conduct business; yet, some people have misconceptions that Downtown is unsafe, dirty and economically depressed. For years, Wilmington Downtown Inc. (WDI) has addressed these perceptions by conducting a range of efforts to revitalize the center city. Recently, new tools became available through the introduction of the Municipal Service District (MSD).
The MSD provides enhanced services to improve Downtown. Based on community input, WDI has created an Ambassador program to provide new safety and cleanliness programs. Other new activities include additional marketing, economic development and beautification efforts to promote downtown businesses and boost economic activity.
When visiting any city, people want to appreciate its beauty and to feel safe. Without a doubt, Wilmington is a beautiful city with a lovely 1.75-mile river walk and a thriving central business district (CBD). Downtown Wilmington is home to more than 130 unique shops; around 80 superb dining establishments; approximately 40 friendly pubs; more than 40 attractions and over 200 other services.
To further improve the area, WDI has partnered with Allied Universal Services, a nationally recognized leader in facility safety and maintenance, to provide the Ambassador Program that includes a team of seven full-time people who patrol the area on foot to provide additional safety and cleaning services. The Ambassadors work seven days a week whether the temperature soars into the 90s or drops down to the 20s and they cover a lot of ground…210 acres spanning 70 blocks to be precise. They are trained to be extra sets of eyes and ears for law enforcement, to assist with merchant concerns, to identify and remove graffiti, to supply information to visitors, to escort people back to their cars at night, and provide cleaning services beyond those provided by the city.
The MSD is more than just the Ambassador Program. Any CBD business owners who want to spruce up the exterior of their properties can apply to WDI for a matching grant to refurbish their building façades. The matching grant can award up to $2,500 to repaint, repair windows, add new signs or awnings and make other similar improvements. The first application to be approved came from the owner of Hell’s Kitchen whose façade had not been updated since it was converted for use as a location for the locally filmed TV series Dawson’s Creek.
And there’s more—property owners who have parking lots or own land adjacent to their business can also apply to WDI for landscaping grants of up to $1,500. This grant requires matching funds and can be used to add new sustainable vegetation, irrigation, screening, or other landscaping upgrades that improve the visual impact of the Downtown vista.
With a surge in economic activity in recent years, and improvements in safety and cleanliness through the Municipal Services District, Downtown Wilmington is so much more than just a beautiful city on the Riverfront; it is a much sought after, thriving hub that is rich in historical charm, and prosperous with an eclectic array of businesses and services that let people work, dream and play. Come enjoy!