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Former Riverboat Landing Location Gets MSD Grant Money

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Mar 5, 2018
The former Riverboat Landing restaurant building at Market and Water streets has received funding through a Wilmington MSD grant. (Photo courtesy of Historic Preservation Commission)
A grant has been awarded for updates to the outside of the former Riverboat Landing restaurant at the foot of Market Street, according to Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of Wilmington Downtown Inc.

The renovation project, aimed at replacing the doors and windows of the three-story commercial building, received $5,000 for the project through the Municipal Services District (MSD) facade grant program, Wolverton said.

The blue building was recently purchased by 2 Market St. LLC, a company managed by real estate broker Todd Toconis of Town & Country Real Estate, and is undergoing renovations, including pressure washing, new paint and replacement of the roof, doors and windows. 

Built in 1860, the three-story Lyon Building located at 2 Market St. has several balconies, windows and doors. The money granted for the project will be used to replace 15 of the existing windows, nine of the existing wood doors leading to the upper balconies with custom wood doors and doors on the side of Quine Alley with new mahogany doors. The balconies will remain, Wolverton said. 

“This a highly visible landmark building, and this project will make a significant impact on the surrounding shops and attractions,” Wolverton said of the project.

Between the funds for the Market Street building renovation and funds that were awarded for the facade project at 118 A Princess St., the site of Hell’s Kitchen, half of the grant funds have been used this fiscal year.

A total of $7,500 of the $15,000 set aside for the grant program make up the funds used for the two downtown projects, Wolverton said. 

The Market Street project was able to receive an additional funding amount (totaling $5,000) because work was happening on more than one side of the building and facing different streets, Wolverton said. Hell’s Kitchen was awarded $2,500 for its project on Jan. 9. Other applications are pending, he said.

The facade grant program is offered under the Wilmington MSD to encourage businesses and property owners to invest in the appearance of downtown buildings. It’s one of two matching grant programs under the MSD; the other is a landscaping program.

The MSD is a special taxed district that is expected to generate $377,000 based on charging property owners in the central business district an additional 7 cents per $100 in property value in exchange for additional services. 

At the last Wilmington City Council meeting, Wolverton gave a six-month update on the MSD, which began July 1 for the 2017-18 fiscal year. WDI is contracted by the city for MSD services, including the ambassadors program aimed at improving safety and cleanliness.

The ambassadors program launched in August. Wolverton said in his update to the city that more than 65 percent of the MSD's funds are dedicated to safety and cleanliness programs.

In some of the stats provided at the Feb. 20 meeting, Wolverton noted that the ambassadors have worked nearly 5,000 hours, made contact with 966 businesses, removed graffiti at 106 locations, picked up about 1,640 pounds of trash and removed stickers at 199 spots downtown.

"We had a very aggressive timeline on getting our ambassadors team running and we’ve dealt with some issues along the way. We know we’ve got to do better and can do better," Wolverton told the council. "We’ve been able to stabilize our staff. We’ve made a couple of good hires over the last couple of months and the ambassadors are much improved with some of the services they are delivering."

Wolverton is hopeful the program will tackle more awareness within the district about its safety escorts and other services.

The next step in the MSD program is working on expanding the ambassadors' knowledge, skills and training, including CPR, he said. 

Wolverton also highlighted the new Have a Heart – Give Smart program, which has been developed to encourage people to donate to local charities rather than individual panhandlers by giving people some options online of local charities or the ability to donate through sending a text.

There is also work on a beautification effort underway in coordination with the city to get hanging flower baskets up this year. And for the MSD staff is working on other marketing tools and means to gain more awareness about MSD services.

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