Two boarded-up Wilmington homes are demolished; partnership addresses blighted properties

Wilmington City Councilwoman Zanthia Oliver said she's seen plenty of unused land in the Third District of Wilmington, but not enough is being done to identify them or get the land into the hand of someone who will do something with the property.

"Just put a sign there that says 'vacant lot', or maybe a number so that people know that lot is available," Oliver suggested during discussion of a resolution Thursday during city council. "Otherwise it could just sit there, and no one will know it's available."

Council passed a resolution encouraging the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank and Wilmington's Department of Real Estate and Housing to attempt to sell the vacant parcels of land.

First District Councilwoman Linda Gray said she's been having similar issues in her section of the city.

"There's no advertising on it as to the stature or what's going on with them, and I've had people approach me about wanting to purchase lots also, and could not contact the correct person or find how how much the lot is, or how to go about doing it."

At-Large Councilwoman Loretta Walsh pointed out that sometimes the unused land is too small for a house, but that there can be creative solutions that maximize the currently empty space, with the benefit of helping the city beyond the optics.

"The streets are so small, parking is at a premium. I don't have to tell anyone on this council how expensive it is to build a house these days, but a side lot could be a great driveway to build next to a small house. You could park two to three cars on it, and get those cars off the street, plus it could add a little bit to the tax relief because they're getting a bigger lot."

Also at Thursday's meeting, city council passed resolutions wanting to have a seat at the table as Wilmington spends its still unknown allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds through the American Rescue Plan Act, as Delaware's General Assembly aims to pass a law requiring landlords to have a valid business license and also increase Victims' Compensation funds. They also don't want to see any more community gardens be built in the city without first notifying the local civic association.