The new Wilmington Riverfront certainly spruces up the waterfront, but not all area residents are pleased with the city’s use of public funds to develop the land. Some say they can’t afford to eat at the restaurants there while others say the Riverfront has something to offer for every demographic, The News Journal’s Maureen Milford and Jeff Montgomery report.
The success of a redevelopment project is often a matter of opinion, and Delaware’s Christina River waterfront is no exception. With so many different parties involved, there are bound to be conflicting goals, Milford and Montgomery say.
All the players—neighborhood residents, homebuyers, government officials, merchants, taxpayers and out-of-town visitors—have different standards for what constitutes a development's success. Criteria can range from home prices to increases in the tax base to the effects on the surrounding community.
Residents who disapprove of the development don’t dispute the allure of an urbanized waterfront; rather, they feel the money should have been spent on existing neighborhoods in need of a financial boost.
Some municipalities are starting to recognize residents’ desire to be more involved in planning and redevelopment, and to accommodate this they are launching initiatives such as participatory budgeting. Washington, D.C., and Seattle are experimenting with the online crowdsourcing platform Popularise to gather feedback from city residents on local development projects.
These types of democratic initiatives are still in their infancy, but if they prove popular they could help city officials to plan projects where everybody wins.