Seaford's downtown will transform like a butterfly
By Annette C. Silva
"Seaford has a lot of sweat equity-what we need is access to money
and someone with vision," says Sally Stewart of Stewart's Awards
Tommy Cooper (Cooper Realty) says, "If downtown does it right, people
will come; just look at St. Michael's and Lewes-15 years ago Lewes
was a ghost town."
Mayor Dan Short believes that once a community visualizes a plan
and broadcasts it, energy is created: "I'm optimistic-we're starting
to create what I call the ‘Wow' effect.
Karen Pedemonte (co-owner of Bon Appetit) says "Seaford had to create
a reason for people to come here-and now they're doing it."
Patricia French (co-owner of Caffe Sarajevo) says, "Our hope is
that the streets will fill with lots of new shops after the improvements
are in place."
This small sampling of four business people and a mayor indicates
that growth is afoot in this western Sussex town alongside the Nanticoke
One sees the exterior changes during drive-by errand doings. Now
in its awkward stage, the city nonetheless is metamorphosing into
According to Short, interior changes are also stirring; he says
it's an attitude of optimism. "We have a lot of enthusiasm, both
at City Hall and within the community, and we all want to see Seaford
become the city it can be."
Some of the above people offered comments and specifics about the
Mayor Dan Short:
-Riverwalk, Phase III, is about to begin. "We're extending the Riverwalk
all the way to Cannon Street; we'll conserve the shoreline along
the westerly direction and build a boardwalk surrounded by landscaping."
Strollers will be able to walk through town toward Front Street,
head down along the river and come full circle.
-A Comprehensive Strategic Planning Committee was formed, "To address
the big picture and outline marketing, fundraising and design strategies.
We're working on streamlining the process for potential new business
owners by providing a listing of necessary steps, a timeline and
the costs. We can help them along the way."
-He spoke of a planning session with Council to discuss a new Seaford
municipal building to be located in the lot next to the old Peninsula
Oil building on the corner of High and Front Streets.
"We hope to contract with an architect for some designs and discuss
sources of possible funding."
-Meetings will continue with community leaders and financial institutions
for the purpose of (and support for) forming a corporate investment
group to support Seaford revitalization projects.
-No word yet on the future of the empty PNC Bank Building. "They don't
respond to questions; I've written them a letter and no-one has answered,"
said Short. "It would be good to have a bank downtown, especially
with our renovations; I'm trying to get them to put an ATM downtown."
-The Conaway property along Water Street is still for sale. The City
reinforced the path down to the river on North St. Also, the riverfront
corner lot at Water and Market Streets (the Miller property) is for
Shannon Willey, director of Main Street and Economic Development:
-"A marketing package is being prepared to send out as soon as the
downtown renovations near completion." The package, according to Willey,
will include specific information about Seaford reinvestment tax incentives,
a downtown directory listing current businesses, churches, schools,
physicians, historical information and Seaford events such as the
August River Float-in. The package will include a pamphlet outlining
Seaford's Historic Enterprise Zone incentives ( a la "Reasons to bring
your business here"), the city's tax grant program, a new zoning plan
and a listing of downtown marketable opportunities. The package will
be mailed to businesses in surrounding Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey
and Pennsylvania as well as to chambers of commerce.
-Another lot has been sold at the Industrial Park-details later.
-Regarding his negotiations with a Baltimore developer for a shopping
complex on US 13 to include a major grocery chain, movie theaters,
restaurants and 30,000 feet for speciality shops: "I had a meeting
on February 9 with the grocery store chain," said Cooper. "The meeting
went well. If the grocery store decides to come here, then the Regal
Theater complex (6 salas) will most likely come too." The shops, Cooper
said, would be in keeping with the quality of the shopping area. "We
hope to be able to attract a Deli, a bakery and other quality businesses."
-His views regarding the downtown area: "Once the groundwork is laid
[infrastructure], which they are doing, the next most important thing
they need to do is market the downtown as a niche for specialty shops.
They need to learn what other successfully renovated towns have done.
If you visit any rejuvenated town, you'll see that it's not rocket
science. You create a nice atmosphere where people enjoy walking,
shopping for unique items and stopping to eat."
Sally Stewart (Organization Chair of the Main Street Program):
-"We're always looking for developers showing an interest in Seaford,"
-"There is huge potential here. The city is working on streamlining
the process for businesses interested in locating downtown, but we
all have to do our part because downtown is an important economic
indicator of the whole town."
-"Lots of ideas have been batted around for the Post Office Building
(The P.O. is relocating later in the year)," said Stewart. Both the
Seaford Museum and the Chamber of Commerce have shown interest. "Someone
with money could use it as a restaurant with a Post Office motif or
it could become an artist and artisan's cooperative. There are lots
of possibilities for someone with imagination and money."
-"A viable and vibrant downtown is the key to attracting potential
-"First of all, we're thrilled that the Guide Building is gone. The
City and Kaye Construction did a great job. We can now see out our
windows and have light coming in." Also, we (she and her husband Toby
French are co-owners of Caffe Sarajevo) are encouraged by all that
is going on." She said they have space for two more businesses in
their building besides the Caffe, Cranberrry Hill and Night Owl bookstore.
"We'd like to see a card shop or a gourmet food shop come here."
-"A new Juice Bar is coming downtown-that's a good sign, and I think
other small businesses will soon follow.
-"We hope that people will notice the improvements that are going
on all over Seaford. The City has helped us enormously."