Transforming Delaware’s Capital City Through Collaborative Design

This article originally appeared in Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s Delaware Business Magazine. You can read the original article here.

In an ambitious move set to redefine the urban landscape of Delaware’s capital, Bernardon has been working alongside the Downtown Dover Partnership (DDP) and a coalition of planners and developers, including Mosaic Development Partners and Kimley-Horn, to introduce the Capital City 2030 plan. With a primary objective to inject vibrancy and economic vitality into Downtown Dover, Capital City 2030 exemplifies the synergy of collaborative design, planning, and community engagement. With a substantial potential investment of over $500 million, this project is set to elevate Dover into a thriving regional destination by seamlessly blending modernity with its rich historical tapestry.

The initiative began with a comprehensive listening campaign that engaged over 800 stakeholders, including residents, business owners, and public officials. By taking an inclusive approach, the project team tapped into the community’s feedback to identify important concerns and aspirations that played a pivotal role in shaping the project’s direction. As a result, the plan addresses both the immediate needs of Dover’s downtown and creates a foundation for sustainable growth and development.

The plan envisions nearly 1,000 new residential units, a boutique hotel, centralized parking solutions, modern architectural elements that respect its history, and a revitalization of existing buildings within the downtown core. It has been carefully designed to be economically feasible and can be launched and implemented within a 7-year timeframe.

“The proposed enhancements align with Bernardon’s design philosophy, emphasizing our dedication to creating inherently people-first urban environments. By incorporating elements such as broader sidewalks, enhanced tree infrastructure, lively storefronts, outdoor seating, and traffic calming measures, we aim to foster a lively and inviting downtown core. Our vision is to encourage foot traffic down Loockerman Street, cultivating a vibrant atmosphere that welcomes residents and visitors alike,” said Michael S. McCloskey, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, vice-president of Core States Group, who leads the Bernardon Division.

To help facilitate this plan, the DDP outlined a series of incentives and financial tools, including Tax Increment Financing (TIF), designed to attract and maintain businesses. With the goal of expediting the progression of development, streamlined government approvals and financial incentives have been put in place to ensure that projects aligned with the DDP’s vision can materialize.

Governor John Carney’s recent announcement of a $25 million investment by the State of Delaware toward the downtown revitalization underscores the state’s commitment to Dover’s future. This funding, earmarked for critical infrastructure projects and the development of key properties includes: Essential water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades; a six-story mixed-use development at 120 South Governors Avenue with residential units; a community grocery store and daycare; and a multilevel transportation center that will provide parking, a bus stop, bike share, and EV charging stations to support downtown businesses and the new residential complex.

Capital City 2030 propels Dover toward urban revitalization, championing the values of the community, connectivity, and sustainability. By reimagining Dover’s downtown as an animated hub for commerce, culture, and vibrant living, this groundbreaking plan establishes an optimistic blueprint for a future where Dover thrives. At Bernardon, we are not just witnesses, but enthusiastic participants in this transformative journey over these next six years.

 

Michael S. McCloskey, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C is vice president and a principal at Bernardon. A division of Core States Group, Bernardon is recognized as one of the top 100 design firms in the Mid-Atlantic region and among the top 300 architecture firms in the United States.

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Michael McCloskey

Michael S. McCloskey, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C

Vice President