Mayor Mike Purzycki announces “Neighborhood Stabilization Program”

West Center City is the site of the city’s First Neighborhood Stabilization Program

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said today that with the support of the people who live, work and worship in West Center City (WCC), and through new and expanded partnerships with the City and more than 15 other cooperating agencies, it is his hope that this area of Wilmington will achieve its full potential and thrive well into the future. The Mayor expressed that sentiment today as he announced the launch of his Administration’s citywide Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) in West Center City.

“Beginning today, the people of WCC will have a team of new and existing allies and partners standing side-by-side with them to improve the lives of citizens and strengthen the entire neighborhood,” said Mayor Purzycki. “Too many of us want to live in the past, and talk about the construction of Interstate-95 and the social unrest of fifty years ago. I don’t. It is time for us to look forward and not backward. The failed initiatives of the past are behind us. We will not try to revisit them. I believe that a well-executed program that is supported by the community and multiple partners will change lives for the better and transform this neighborhood.”

For purposes of the City’s NSP effort in this area, West Center City (WCC) is defined as the area bounded by Adams Street to Tatnall Street and 4th Street to 10th Street. WCC is situated near the Downtown District and is adjacent to the Quaker Hill, Trinity Vicinity and Hilltop neighborhoods.

Mayor Purzycki said the City will assign additional resources to WCC such as police officers, L&I inspectors, Public Works sanitation employees and Parks and Recreation staff. He said the City’s efforts will be supplemented by the State of Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services, the Attorney General’s Office and the Christina School District.

In addition, the Mayor said the City has begun to coordinate these efforts with public and non-profit property owners in WCC such as Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware, Wilmington Housing Authority, Wilmington Housing Partnership, Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC), Habitat for Humanity, Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank and a number of private entities with substantial holdings in the area. Mayor Purzycki said each owner has been asked to work with the City to stabilize, rehabilitate or demolish properties so as to ensure improved housing conditions for residents or to remove blight from WCC.

“We know this will be a monumental task, but it will also be a testament to our resolve to bring as many resources together as possible to reduce crime, blight and poverty, and to produce cleaner streets, better housing, improved health standards, increased living standards, and a new sense of neighborhood pride,” said Mayor Purzycki. “This is not the first community-based process aimed at bringing about important changes in this part of the city. I tip my hat to all of those who worked extremely hard to produce and follow through on the West Center City Strategic Neighborhood Plan coordinated by Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware and the WRC’s Creative District Strategic Plan. Our efforts will compliment and support yours.”

Mayor Purzycki also announced today that the City will spend $1.3 million to improve the City’s only community center—the William ‘Hicks’ Anderson Community Center (WHACC). The Mayor said improvements include reroofing and repainting the facility, repairing leaking pipes and installing a new water treatment system in the swimming pool and installing new lockers and replacing the HVAC systems in the men’s and women’s locker rooms. Upgrades also include new appliances and a new HVAC system in the center’s kitchen, as well as a new HVAC system in the gymnasium and a new gym floor.

The WCC neighborhood stabilization effort, according to the Mayor, will concentrate on a variety of issues that affect the quality of life. He said these efforts will not be guided by arbitrary timelines or deadlines. Instead, he said it will be driven by a desire to address the needs of WCC in a timely and consistent way understanding that some things take longer than others to accomplish.

Elements of the WCC NSP initiative are:

  • Reduce crime, the flow of drugs, the activities of gangs and incidents of prostitution as well as other criminal behaviors that erode the quality of life

  • Redeploy police officers to suppress the criminal element who live in the neighborhood and others who travel into the area each day as part of their criminal business activities

  • Ensure that liquor and convenience stores are compliant with the law and are not contributing to neighborhood instability

  • Conduct pre-rental inspections which will be re-instituted by the Licenses and Inspections Department to help residents secure decent living conditions that meet city code requirements

  • Hold property owners, especially speculators who are profiting from ownership in WCC, to acceptable standards regarding the upkeep of the interior and exterior of their properties

  • Use the Sheriff Sale process to hold property owners accountable if they neglect their property holdings and are in debt to the City

  • Intensify efforts to eliminate nuisance properties through the City’s nuisance property law and the Delaware Department of Justice’s criminal property abatement program

  • Support property owners who are in good standing regarding city code and debt, but are in need of minor building repairs which can be supported through the City’s Property Façade Program

  • Implement traffic flow and traffic calming changes which will end the advantage given now to those who travel too freely in the neighborhood to conduct illicit activities

  • Incentivize homeownership

  • Assist with the establishment of a WCC Neighborhood Association to represent, organize and advocate for residents and businesses

  • Improve the appearance of the area by reducing trash on streets, and enforcing the City law that requires a landlord to provide a trash receptacle to tenants and residents to place all trash in a covered container

  • Increase mental and physical health resources and other social service resources as needed

  • Partner with the Christina School District on education programs


Mayor Purzycki also announced today that the City will spend $1.3 million to improve the City’s only community center—the William ‘Hicks’ Anderson Community Center (WHACC). The Mayor said improvements include reroofing and repainting the facility, repairing leaking pipes and installing a new water treatment system in the swimming pool and installing new lockers and replacing the HVAC systems in the men’s and women’s locker rooms. Upgrades also include new appliances and a new HVAC system in the center’s kitchen, as well as a new HVAC system in the gymnasium and a new gym floor.

The Mayor today thanked the following members of a newly-formed WCC Working Group who have been appointed by the Mayor to assist with the implementation of the NSP program:

  • Michelle Billups, West Center City resident

  • Nnamdi Chukwuocha, Member, Wilmington City Council

  • Greg Ciotti, Lieutenant, Wilmington Police Department

  • James Diana, Lieutenant, Delaware Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement

  • Marlyn Dietz, Operations Director, Wilmington Department of Public Works

  • Mercedes Fields, West Center City resident

  • Ray Fitzgerald, Director, State Division of Social Services (DHSS)

  • Tom Ford, Program Coordinator, Wilmington Department of Real Estate and Housing

  • Bill Freeborn, Executive Vice-President, Delaware Contractors Association

  • Matt Harris, Planner, Wilmington Department of Planning

  • AJ Hill, Attorney, Wilmington City Solicitor’s Office

  • Kevin Kelley, Director, Wilmington Department of Parks and Recreation

  • Deborah Kraak, President, Trinity Vicinity Neighborhood Association

  • Cassandra Marshall, President, Quaker Hill Neighborhood Association

  • Donald Morton, Pastor, Tabernacle Baptist Church

  • Tom Ogden, Deputy Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office

  • Gabriel Pabon, Lieutenant, Wilmington Fire Marshal’s Office

  • Gary Pollio, Executive Director, Interfaith Community Housing of DE

  • Jennifer Prado, Director, Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services

  • AJ Roop, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice

  • Laura Semmelroth, Creative District Strategist, Wilmington Renaissance Corporation

  • David Sophrin, Policy Analyst, Mayor’s Office

  • Caren Turner, West Center City resident

  • Va’Shun Turner, Council Member, Wilmington City Council

  • Jessica Ramos-Velazquez, Acting Deputy, Commissioner, Wilmington Department of Licenses and Inspections

  • Christian Willauer, Executive Director, Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank


West Center City - By the Numbers

Note - data based on WCC area of Adams Street to Tatnall Street, 10th Street to 4th Street

 # of registered vacants

153 registered vacants

 

% of all parcels that are vacant

Of the 1134 parcels in West Center City, approx. at least 13% are registered vacant buildings. That % increases once green parcels (demolished structures) are backed out of the equation.

 

# of registered rentals

563 parcels are registered as rental properties

 

% of all parcels that are rental

Of the 1134 parcels in West Center City, approx. at least 49% are structures that are registered as being rented, although we believe this number to be higher given the presence of rentals that have not registered with the City. The percentage is pushed even higher by the number of dwellings that have been converted into multi-family unit rentals. As an overall percentage of the living units, a 2010 West Center City strategic plan found approximately 74% of the occupied units were rental with slightly different boundaries from the WCC NSP.

 

Ownership Rates

Of the 1134 parcels in WCC, approximately 20% are likely owner-occupied although that number could actually be lower

 

Amount of Debt Owed to the City from WCC parcels

$1,809,132.55 owed (spread over 823 parcels as of February, 2017)

$774,741.73 of that debt comes from just 20 of those parcels

 

Top Property Owners in West Center City (owning at least the following number of parcels)

  • 84 parcels - George Beers (associated with 3 different entities)

    • 41 parcels - WCV Associates LP

    • 37 parcels - Monroe Terrace Associates LP

    • 6 parcels - 2G Ventures LLC



  • 41 parcels - Colonial Parking

  • 32 parcels - City of Wilmington (all but one are lots rather than existing structures)

  • 32 parcels – Wilmington Housing Authority

  • 32 parcels – Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware

  • 30 parcels - Morningstar Property Group

  • 22 parcels - Connections Community Support Programs

  • 21 parcels - YWCA

  • 18 parcels - Brevoort Family

  • 16 parcels - Christopher Carlantonio

  • 10 parcels –West Center City Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee (WCCNPAC)


 

# of Liquor Stores

  • 6 licensed liquor/package stores


 

Sheriff Sales in WCC

  • Dozens of properties have been identified for likely sheriff sale. All of these properties have been identified by the City’s Crime and Blight Team as properties that, in addition to outstanding debt, have issues such as physical blight or the need for consistent police calls for service


 Housing Code Violations in WCC

  • Since 2015, there are 675 code violations issued in WCC that have not been resolved

  • Most Common Unresolved Violations Since 2015

    • 64 - properties deemed unfit for habitation

    • 55 - remove/replace all flaking paint

    • 27 - extermination for rodents/bed bugs/insects/roaches/varmints

    • 26 - painting needed for exterior wood

    • 25 - install/replace smoke/carbon monoxide detector

    • 17 - restore electric service

    • 16 - repair/replace light fixtures

    • 14 - repair holes in ceiling and/or roof

    • 13 - repair exterior pars of building with open penetration

    • 12 - leak in ceiling



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