A Vision for a Creative District in Wilmington

Over the last three years, WRC has been working with our partners (City of Wilmington, Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware, Christina Cultural Arts Center, Wilmington Housing Partnership, Quaker Hill Neighborhood Association, United Way of Delaware and others) to develop a Creative District in the Downtown/Quaker Hill/West Center City neighborhood.

This creative district will support downtown revitalization by leveraging the high concentration of arts organizations and millions of dollars of investment along Market Street to provide an enhanced sense of place in the area immediately adjacent to downtown. The vision is a community of artist-owned properties with living spaces above galleries, studios and performance spaces. It will include beautification and artistic projects to engage the current residents and community members.

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Modeled after Paducah, KY’s renowned artist relocation program, Wilmington’s Creative District will have a major impact on the whole city. Building on vacant lots and land, the Creative District will create homeownership opportunities for artists in an area with greater than 80% rental rates, thereby helping to stabilize a highly transient neighborhood. Creative District will also complement artist initiatives described in neighborhood-based strategic plans, which call for artist housing, artist-related business development and arts-related programming. Lastly, the program will target artists (and their families) who qualify as low- or moderate-income, providing ownership and entrepreneurial opportunities that might otherwise not exist for them.

WRC engaged urban planning firm Interface Studio to work with a steering committee of volunteers to develop a vision plan for the creative district, which is bounded by 4th, 9th, Market and Washington streets. The artist live/work component will complement the live/work rental program for artists nearby at Shipley Lofts.

The Creative District’s Steering Committee has brought in additional community partners to create an implementation plan that will include outcomes in each of the following areas: Organization, Community Engagement, Programming, Real Estate and Marketing. To learn more about the Creative District Steering Committee, or to get involved please contact us.

We will share details of the plan here on this blog. Get more information and download an executive summary or the full plan.

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