Unlock the Block

Downtown Dover

Program will be launched with new properties in early 2019!


Unlock the Block will serve as a catalyst to reduce vacancies in the Downtown Dover Business Improvement District by finding qualified tenants for vacant retail and commercial spaces along Loockerman Street and adjacent streets. The initiative will facilitate the redevelopment of downtown commercial properties and promote a vibrant commercial district by filling previously vacant spaces with retail, restaurants, professional services firms, and nonprofits organizations that will attract customers from the Dover area and beyond.

The Unlock the Block initiative invites property owners to learn about:

  • How the initiative will help owners of vacant commercial properties along Loockerman Street and adjacent streets secure a qualified tenant with a long-term lease
  • Possible incentives for redevelopment of commercial properties that are available from state, county, city and other sources
  • Local building regulations including licensing and inspections

Small business owners will be invited to participate in a selective process to occupy spaces in downtown Dover.
The program seeks veteran business owners looking to expand or home-based businesses looking for their first brick and mortar location. Available spaces are being marketed April through July. During that time Unlock the Block is recruiting prospective tenants and guiding them through an application process that includes a project information session and business planning session, culminating in a pitch competition in which a panel of experts will vote on who will be offered a lease.

Applications from prospective tenants will be accepted through July 9. The pitch competition will occur in late July/early August and the winners will be announced by Aug. 15. Occupancy could take place as soon as 30 days after selection but may vary depending upon the extent of fit-out each space requires.

Tenants selected for the program will receive a combination of incentives including fee waivers, free business consulting services, technical assistance and cash incentives.

Questions? Contact one of the following:

  • Downtown Dover Amenities: Tina Bradbury, Program Manager, Downtown Dover Partnership
  • City of Dover Incentives, Processes, Licensing/Inspections: Dave Hugg, Planner, City of Dover
  • Properties and Business Questions: Rick Ferrell, Retail Market Answers, LLC, Business Development Consultant
  • General Questions about Unlock the Block: Diane Laird, State Coordinator, Downtown Delaware

Partners and Sponsors of Unlock the Block:

  • Downtown Dover Partnership
  • City of Dover
  • Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce
  • First State Community Loan Fund
  • Kent Economic Partnership
  • Delaware Division of Small Business - Downtown Delaware
  • Downtown Delaware