Selbyville businesses to meet Nov. 12 to form coalition

Selbyville’s downtown used to be a bustling hub of clothing stores, strawberry auctions, railroad and more. Today, business owners want to make Selbyville a destination once again.

There will be a public meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 4 p.m. at Selbyville Town Hall. The goal is to begin forming a downtown business coalition with businesses, government officials, nonprofit organizations and other interested individuals. Eventually, they would partner with the town to pursue Downtown Development District grants from the state.

“We see the potential there, and the only way that’s gonna that happen is if a couple business owners just jump out there and make the investment (and hope and pray), and everybody jumps on board with us,” said entrepreneur Brandon Tatum-Poole.

In this case, he and Leigh Scott are spearheading the effort.

With a family legacy in the downtown business life of Selbyville, Scott explained the program: “It’s a 20 percent reimbursement grant” from the Office of State Planning Coordination (OSPC) for projects that revitalize business or residential areas. Millions of private dollars have been leveraged because of this state grant. The application period is expected to reopen soon.

“I think Selbyville is certainly moving in the right direction, but we still have some downtown growth to do, to revitalize the downtown,” Scott told Selbyville Town Council last month.

“I think we need a vision and a plan,” Scott said. “I feel like it’s a win-win for everybody that decides to invest in the town.”

The coalition will create a unified plan and partnership (including some local government incentives) for downtown improvements, if Selbyville were to win one of the final few Downtown Development District slots.

Essentially, the partnership would pick about 95 acres for Selbyville’s Downtown Development District. Then, people could receive a 20-percent reimbursement for improvements to their property, both residential or commercial. This could extend to a maximum of 20 years.

It would not change Selbyville’s zoning; it would just add a benefit that people may use.

“It doesn’t tie the town up. You can still do other projects,” said Mayor Clifton Murray. “The money is there, if you can get it, you can use it.”

Even if Selbyville is not selected, this project will build momentum for a rejuvenation of the downtown.

The application period could open in six weeks or six months, so Selbyville needs to get started on this massive application packet.

“It’s looking at where we need the most improvement for Selbyville to grow,” Scott said.

This could be a real boon for a town with so many classic houses and brick buildings. Plus, new growth is coming, as housing developers turn their attention to Route 54 for hundreds, if not thousands, of proposed new homes.

A new vision could make downtown Selbyville more of a destination, either capturing some beach-bound visitors, or easing the travel burden for locals trying to avoid eastbound beach traffic.

The coalition has had one organizational meeting, and Tuesday will be the second. They expect OSPC staff to help advise at a future meeting.

"We would love feedback and ideas. This is the early stages. This is the time to share," said Scott.

“Sounds like a good start … We need some revitalization downtown of the older areas,” said town councilmember Jay Murray. “Anything we can do to help, I think we’d be on board with.”

Delaware General Assembly created this program to spur private capital investment in neighborhoods; stimulate job growth and commercial vitality in Delaware towns; and help build a stable community of long-term residents in downtown neighborhoods.

Since 2015, Delaware has announced 12 DDD zones, including Seaford, Georgetown, Milford, Laurel and Dover.

By Laura Walter
Staff Reporter