Wilmington is a historic, diverse and unique city but also physically divided. In the last 20 years, Wilmington’s downtown and riverfront have been dramatically transformed. New mixed-use development and renovated historic buildings, park improvements and pedestrian infrastructure have been credited with the in-migration of new residents and an increasingly vibrant street life.
But revitalization is uneven in the neighborhoods and the city as a whole as other neighborhoods continue to exhibit high unemployment, persistent poverty, vacancy, and blight, impacting resident opportunity and quality of life as well as the city’s economic vitality.
The legacy of the 1960s still impacts the city’s urban form, with the construction of I-95 and urban renewal creating new block patterns and barriers between neighborhoods. The city’s streets are designed to move automobiles and huge portions of the city center are devoted to parking at the expense of walkable and bikeable connections.
There is a strong need to improve all of Wilmington’s neighborhoods and reconnect the city. This process begins with establishing a city-wide vision, necessary work that shapes an important element of a comprehensive plan. The City has not undertaken a full comprehensive plan re-write since the 1960s, and an up-to-date, comprehensive plan will strengthen quality of life by underscoring the link between physical and social connectivity, resident opportunity, neighborhood health, and economic development, paving the way for coordinated investment for a more integrated and competitive city.
Everyone with a stake in the city – whether they live, work or visit – has been invited to share their insights and vision for the city. So far, a survey about the City has generated over 2,300 responses, and 5 public forums have been held in different locations around the city. Next up are a series of focus groups to drill down on specific topics and develop goals and ideas for the comprehensive plan.