Urban renewal coming to Wilmington's Eastside

By Amy Cherry 12:18pm, November 12, 2013 - Updated 2:52pm, November 12, 2013
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
Wilmington's East Side prepares to undergo a revitalization.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

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Joanne Gaitwood's roots are on the 500 block of East 9th Street, where her family has lived in a historic home for nearly 60 years.

"We live block by block. I live on 9th Street, that's a fine block, but Pine Street, we have a whole different element, Kirkwood Street, so we're not a community even though we all live on the Eastside," says Gaitwood.

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But 10 organizations have gotten together in an effort to change that. They've signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), creating an Eastside Collaborative that will bring new housing and new jobs to the neighborhood.

"They wanted the houses to be affordable, but they didn't want all low-income housing, they wanted mixed income," says Keeling.

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But East Side Wilmingtonians have been promised urban renewal before. But this time, the Reverend Terrence Keeling of Central Baptist Church tells WDEL their attitudes are different now.

"They will be able to stand on their feet, that the minds and hearts of the community are changed to believe that change is possible and that change can be done by them," says Keeling.

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He hopes this "historic" agreement will go along way to re-energize an apathetic neighborhood and transform the eastside back to a stable community.

"Hopefully will change their minds and the attitudes in some cases from hopelessness to start to be replaced with a feeling of promise," he says.

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Organizations that signed the MOU are: Eastside Blueprint Planning Team, Central Baptist Community Development Corporation, NCCo Habitat for Humanity, Inter-Neighborhood Foundation, Wilmington Housing Partnership (WHP), Woodlawn Trustees, American Baptist Churches PA/DE, Stepping Stones Community Federal Credit Union, Delaware Community Reinvestment Act Council, and UD's Center for Community Research.

You'll see shovels in the ground early next year with construction projects employing residents of Wilmington's Eastside.

Gaitwood is confident the plan to make Wilmington's Eastside more of a "melting pot" will work.

"Us all coming together and living as one community, not from block to block. Our issues are all the same and that we can rise together and come together as a community," she says.

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