Creating a Legacy- Martin Hageman is Proud of the Vision that Has Become Reality in Wilmington, DE

Martin Hagerman Downtown Visions

When one hears Downtown Visions they may think of the friendly folks in yellow that are safety ambassadors downtown, or the cleaning ambassadors keeping everything tidy in the city, but what they may not realize is that is only the tip of the ice-burg when it comes to all of the services Downtown Visions provides.

Downtown Visions Executive Director, Martin Hageman explains how it all began and how thrilled he is to be able to tell his grandchildren that he was a part of the helping hands that made Wilmington, DE what it is today.

Q. How did Downtown Visions begin?

A. “In 1993 a group of individuals got together from the corporations because they saw the City was struggling because retail had dramatically changed. People went to the mall or shopping plazas to get what they needed. Historically, when Downtown Wilmington was booming it was an epicenter of retail shops-now it needed a new position. I saw the restaurants and the arts as strengths and destinations for the city. Places like A.R. Morris, Govatos and Als were the only remaining retailers on Market Street. I knew if we could make it a welcoming, clean, safe place it would turn a corner. Back then there were around 12 Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) in the U.S. and Wilmington, DE was one of them. Now there are around 2,000. I left the police department in November of 1994 and needed to train the first set of Safety Ambassadors by Christmas. It was a tough, but I did it and our team of ambassadors immediately made an impact. From then on, crime decreased within the BID. That was the first step. So much more came following.”

Q. What is your proudest moment here at Downtown Visions?

A. “There have been many, from training and hiring the first set of Safety Ambassadors to installing our video surveillance cameras which was a model for Homeland Security in 2001. The video surveillance program grew from there. Where the Downtown Farmers Market is today has also been incredibly meaningful. In the height of the season between 10 and 2 PM on a Wednesday in the summer 5,000 people visit the Market. Watching the Main Street Program help entrepreneurs and small businesses set roots downtown has also been rewarding.”

Q. What do you believe has been Downtown Visions greatest impact on the local community?

A. “Providing a safe and clean environment downtown that has made it easier for developers, restaurants and retailers to come downtown, being a catalyst for economic development.”

Q. What services do you think individuals are not aware of that Downtown Visions offers?

A.”Many people don’t realize we offer a Safety Escort Service that is completely free. We also have Facade Improvement Programs and grants for new businesses. Sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference. Our Cleaning Ambassadors are removing graffiti, posters, stickers, leaves and constantly emptying the trash bins downtown.”

Q. How has the BID improved over the years?

A.”It has dramatically changed through the developers that have been willing to invest Downtown. Groups like The Buccini/Pollin Group that have created residential buildings. With a critical mass of residents, we are now a 24 hour downtown and a true community. The area today is vibrant with arts, residential, entertainment and retail.”

Q. What differences do you see in the Business Improvement District in 2020?

A.”We will continue to see a community of people that live, work and play downtown.”

Q. What is your favorite Downtown Visions annual event?

A. “The Farmer’s Market in Rodney Square. It brings associates out of their buildings and gives them a chance to not only enjoy the market, but also see all of the positive things happening downtown.”

A Gallery Showcasing the roots of Downtown Visions:

Quaker Hill Historic Preservation Foundation Presents the Annual Dickinson Memorial

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Join historian Dick Carter on February 17th to learn more about our local Founding Father on this 250th Anniversary of his writings "Letters from a Farmer." Dickinson descendant Evelyn Swenssen will be performing his Liberty Song, Mayor Purzycki is slated to read the eulogy and a beautiful wreath by Quaker Hill florist Flowers by Tino will laid at Dickinson's grave in the Wilmington Friends cemetery.  All are welcome to attend this event presented by the Quaker Hill Historic Preservation Foundation. 

The Facebook event can be found here.

The Quaker Hill Historic Preservation Foundation is Historic Preservation & Education non-profit dedicated to sharing and preserving the vital history of the Quaker Hill Historic District in the heart of downtown Wilmington. Free Underground Railroad Workshops, field trips, tours, publications and more are part of their efforts. 

The team of individuals are devoted to ensuring the neighborhood still retains a diverse architectural character, inherited from the 1978 designation of Quaker Hill as a National Register Historic District. Recent renovation and restoration of remaining structures, coupled with the construction of new housing, give definite signs of a revitalization of Quaker Hill.

Interested in joining the preservation efforts of this neighborhood? Contact them at the Quaker Hill Historic Preservation Foundation (www.quakerhillhistoric.org

Craving a History Lesson on Wilmington?

Photo courtesy of www.oldwilmington.net

Photo courtesy of www.oldwilmington.net

When you step into the City of Wilmington, you can tell right away that the rich history of the area is still very much alive. Many of the buildings on Market Street have been restored to their former glory and many of the city's traditions still occur on an annual basis. Whether you are a transplant or have been living downtown for years, one of the most beautiful aspects of Wilmington, Delaware is the way it treasures tradition. 

For those of us desiring to learn a little bit more about the rich history of the streets we walk on a daily basis, there are lots of resources, at our fingertips, or simply a few steps away...

1. Delaware Historical Society- Newly renovated and offering more than meets the eye, the beautiful Delaware Historical Society right on Market Street offers exhibitions, research collections, education, events such as the upcoming Farm 2 Fork and facility rentals.

2. OldWilmington.net- Although their website is still under construction, their Facebook Group and Forums are a wealth of knowledge. Here you will find a library of old photographs from families thrilled to share their lineage in Wilmington. 

Photo courtesy of www.oldwilmington.net

Photo courtesy of www.oldwilmington.net

The Ninth Street Bookshop is full of books on Wilmington's history and if they don't have what you want in stock, they will order it for you! Below is one with rave reviews. 

Books on Wilmington de

Post by Julia Mason of Enthusiasm Lab

Your Opinion Matters What Do YOU Think About Rodney Square? Take the Rodney Square Revitalization Plan Survey

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Rodney Square is one of the iconic public places in the State of Delaware. Since its completion in 1921, the Square has served as the premier public space in downtown Wilmington, enriching the public life by supporting civic and business needs.

The purpose of the Revitalization Plan is to create a new vision for the Square - a vision that integrates the aspirations and demands of a contemporary city center with the cultural heritage of a historic civic space.

The Rodney Square Conservancy working with the City of Wilmington has commissioned Wilmington landscape architects Robinson Anderson Summers with OLIN of Philadelphia, to develop a Revitalization Plan for the Square.

This survey is the first part of an ongoing effort to improve Rodney Square. The answers to this survey will inform the Conservancy and its design consultants as they define a comprehensive vision for the 21st century. As the plan is developed over the coming months, there will be other opportunities for the community to participate in this effort.

This survey should take approximately five minutes. Thank you for your time and input.

We ask for email addresses so we may inform you of upcoming meetings for the project.


Take the Survey

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Preparing for Small Business Saturday

On Monday, I had the privilege of joining our U.S. Congresswoman-elect Lisa Blunt Rochester, Mayor-elect Mike Purzycki, leaders from the Small Business Administration, History leaders, Downtown Business owners, the press, and more as we toured businesses in preparation for Small Business Saturday.

You can see video from our walking tour from WDEL by clicking here.

This Saturday, come on out for the Wilmington Jaycees' Christmas Parade and spend some time shopping at our Downtown Businesses!

Here's a look at what to expect:

11:00 AM Parade along Market Street
12:30pm-1:30pm Photos with Santa at The Baby Grand, 818 N. Market Street *Bring your camera & take FREE photos with Santa!
Enjoy non-alcoholic drinks inside the Baby Grand *Cash Bar*

2pm & 8pm The Playhouse on Rodney Square Theatre: 
Broadway Christmas Wonderland
www.duponttheatre.com or 302.652.5577

12pm-2pm LIVE MUSIC
Enjoy live music at various Downtown locations TBD!

#ShopSmall this holiday season in Downtown, Wilmington

Enjoy great deals at the following businesses:

• ACT Generation, 715 N. Orange Street 2nd Floor – Shopping, food, music art from 8a-8p with vendors

• Al’s Sporting Good, 200 N. Market Street www.alssportinggoods.net – $10 off of $60 spent, $20 off of $110 spent. Not to be combined with other offers or sales. *print coupon below

• Cherné Altovise Jewelry, 316 N. Market Street www.chernealtovise.com - 20% off total purchase. Not to be combined with other offers or sales.

• Collars n Cuffs, 716 N. Market Street collarsncuffsonline.com – 20% off entire purchase, not to be combined with other offers.

• Delaware History Museum/African American History Museum - 50% off admission to Read House, the Delaware History Museum and the Jane & Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage, not to be combined with other offers. 

• LaFate Gallery, 227 N. Market Street www.lafategallery.com - offering 40% Discount on Original Paintings and 25% on Limited Edition Prints.

• LOMA Coffee, 239 N. Market Street www.lomacoffee.com - Receive 10% off your purchase when you mention that you #shopsmall

City Announces Holiday Season Metered Parking Policy:

During the upcoming holiday season, metered parking will be free in Wilmington’s downtown business district and at the Riverfront during specific times of the day, beginning Friday, November 25, 2016, and running through January 1, 2017.

• Citizens and visitors to the City of Wilmington are reminded that paying for metered parking will only be required between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

• From 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. the following morning, metered parking will be free.

• This free parking policy only applies to the downtown area from 2nd Street to 12th Street, and from French Street and Washington Street. The policy also applies to the entire Riverfront community.

I look forward to seeing you Saturday!