Downtown Newark Partnership

2011 Great American Main Street Award

Newark, Delaware, *United States

Award Type: GAMSA

The Numbers

  • Main Street began: 1994
  • Population: 28,547
  • Net new jobs: 89
  • Net new businesses: 33
  • Building rehabs: 24
  • New buildings: 11
  • Vacancy rate when main street started: 11%
  • Vacancy rate today: 5%
  • Public investment: $2,102,965.00
  • Private investment: $38,961,415.00

Downtown Newark is a colorful, diverse dining and specialty shopping destination on the Delmarva peninsula, but it has not always enjoyed this coveted reputation. In the 1950s, Newark began to grow significantly beyond its center and downtown declined. By the mid-1970s, competitive pressures increased dramatically, causing further decline downtown. Through the efforts of dedicated stakeholders and partners, Newark now has a vibrant, thriving downtown with more than $30 million in private investment and 26 new businesses over the last three-and-a-half years. Newark was recently recognized as SBA's Small Business Community of the Year and named the best city for business start-ups by Business Weekly.

In Their Own Words

Downtown Newark is the product a unique environment in which the University, the City of Newark and the residential and businesses communities, through DNP leadership, work together to create a vibrant, diverse and economically healthy downtown. In the last 3 ½ years, more than $30 million in private funds has been invested in new building construction and reconstruction projects, and nearly $1.3 million has been invested in public improvements in downtown. In the last year alone, fourteen net new businesses opened their doors here. And it’s not just Newarkers who love downtown: SBA named Newark its 2007 Delaware Small Business Community of the Year; Business Weekly selected Newark as the best small city for business start ups. Downtown Newark has ben recognized as possessing “… diverse large city amenities combined with the best in small town quality of life and values,” the Princeton Review referred to Newark as “… a charming place with its very own Main Street full of shops, restaurants and nightspots … ” and the Washington Post exulted our vitality, diversity and appeal in the May 23, 2007 article “Newark, DE: Next Time, Get off the Exit.” Further, Newark has been recognized by the Delaware Main Street Program as one of its premier Main Street communities having been certified every year since 2000, honored its staff for exceptional service and Mayor Vance Funk as 2008 Main Street Mayor of the Year. Finally, our efforts have resulted in Newark being known as the restaurant destination for the region!

They are not done yet!

Q: What are DNP's plans for the next five years?

A: As a part of our Five-Year Strategic Planning process two market–based strategies have been developed: 

  1. Develop downtown into a clothing/accessories retail destination, incorporating a redeveloped Newark Shopping Center and the Elkton Road retail shopping district (which was recently annexed) into the downtown business district. 
  2. Insure adequate parking downtown to support existing businesses and attract new businesses. 

This comprehensive approach to addressing the market-based strategies will occupy most downtown activities for the foreseeable future - and each of the DNP working committees have work plans that reflect these initiatives. In addition to improving upon services already highly rated, including customer service improvements through the consolidation of City Building, Planning and Parking processes just completed. The coordination will promote additional successes in business development and parking services. Two projects of particular note since the planning process took place are the ongoing redevelopment of Elkton Road, a recently annexed part of downtown, which includes development approval for six new mixed-use buildings, and plans to build a parking deck on one of the largest municipal lots in the heart of downtown. The future is bright for Downtown Newark. Much of its success is attributable to the DNP’s open and inclusive structure. The DNP is a dynamic instrument dedicated to Downtown enhancement. Our goal is to continue to be the key organization for enhancement of downtown over the long term by keeping abreast of needs and opportunities, and cutting-edge economic development techniques.

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