Saturday, April 13, 2002

The City of Wilmington can't be lambasted for trying novel approaches to making it a better place to live and visit.

For instance, the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation is working to:

  • bring a trolley car to Wilmington,

  • redevelop a six block area between the Christiana Riverfront and downtown, known as the Ships Tavern District,

  • bring schools and education opportunites to the city,

  • make more people interested in living in downtown Wilmington.

Wilmington has always had a good relationship with the business community. For years, the DuPont Corporation has given back to the community. MBNA is a relative newcomer in comparison, but that hasn't lessened the impact that their arrival in the city has had. They have been very involved the community, purchasing land and donating it to expand the Grand Opera House, taking part in educational programs and grants, and being involved with groups like Meals on Wheels, the Delaware Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, and the Boys and Girls Clubs.

While many companies in the chemical and banking fields have made Delaware their home, there's a push to get some other types of industries active in the State. One newcomer is Advance Magazine Publishers, Inc. which recently announced plans for moving a number of jobs to the city. While writers and editors would not be moved, their shared services center, with accounting, information services and technology positions, would find a location within the Hercules Building in downtown Wilmington. The State and the City provided a number of incentives to attract the company. There's a lot of excitement in their arrival, and many hope that they will recognize the involvement that companies like MBNA and DuPont have had with the city and state.

Their divisions include: Condé Nast Publications, Fairchild Publications, The Golf Digest Companies, The Condé Nast Bridal Division, Ideas Publishing Group, Parade Publications, and CondéNet.

Some of their magazines are: Allure, Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, Bride's, Condé Nast Traveler, Glamour, Gourmet, GQ, House & Garden, Lucky, Self, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Wired

Sports are also acting to change Wilmington's landscape. One of the stars in the efforts to renovate Wilmington has been the minor league Wilmington Blue Rocks, playing at the Judy Johnson Field at Frawley Stadium. They returned to the area in 1993, and were just viewed by their three millionth fan on Sunday.

The stadium is built on land that was once a brownfield near the Christina River. It's now the home to mascot Mr. Celery. For a picture of Mr. Celery, visit the celerysquad web site, and make certain that you heed their advice:
***If you too would like to be part of the Celery Squad, make sure to bring stalks of celery to every home game, but remember: no throwing the celery!! Treat Mr. Celery's family with respect***

The stadium was partially the inspiration behind a plan to bring outlet shopping, hotels, restaurants, and an art exhibition hall to Wilmington, as well as a nature area. Known as the Riverfront Project, this stretch of land was once an almost completely abandoned industrial area. The transformation from a brownfield is a great idea.

As wonderful a notion as this is, the project has seen some troubles, and a recent study was critical of the Riverfront Development Corp. The State has had a heavy investment in the development of the area.
State taxpayers have invested more than $95 million to help develop the Wilmington riverfront since 1992. The Riverfront Development Corp.'s 16-member board of directors includes elected officials, community leaders and business people who are appointed by the governor and state law. It has overseen waterfront development by bringing shops, offices and restaurants to the Wilmington waterfront.
Hopefully, the development will go on. We need successes like the Delaware College of Art and Design, which is bringing something unique to Wilmington.

The latest Wilmington news is that musician and violin-maker David Bromberg is moving in across the street from the Delaware College of Art and Design. Bromberg and his wife, artist Nancy Josephson, were given a building in the city which they will pay to renovate.
As part of the agreement, Bromberg will perform or be the master of ceremonies at up to five city-sponsored concerts a year for five years, according to city records. He also will act as a consultant to the city on musical and nightlife issues and serve as a mentor to children.

Josephson will assist in community art projects for five years. "We like the city because the government and private businesses 'get it' when it comes to having what it takes to creating a cultural scene," Josephson said.
They also mentioned the possibility of putting on some live performances of music on Market Street Mall. The mall hasn't seen much live music since the late '70s and early '80s, when performances were put on regularly. The last mall performance I saw was a lunchtime show a couple of years ago by Mary Arden Collins, who recently relocated to California. Hopefully the Bromberg family's input will help attract new artists, and keep talented artists like Collins in the area.