Downtown Master Plan

Agency: American Planning Association
State: Federal
Type of Government: State & Local
NAICS Category:
  • 541310 - Architectural Services
Posted Date: Jun 28, 2021
Due Date: Aug 20, 2021
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Downtown Master Plan Downton Dover Partnership

Dover, DE


Downtown Dover Strategic Master Plan

For the Downtown Commercial District and Surrounding Area of Dover, Delaware

1.1 Introduction

This Request for Proposal (RFP) is being issued by The Downtown Dover Partnership, a non-profit 501(c)(6) in the City of Dover, Delaware.

The Downtown Dover Partnership (DDP), working in concert with the City of Dover and multiple public and non-profit agencies, is seeking an experienced, dynamic, and diverse professional planning consultant team to develop a Strategic Master Plan for the downtown and closely surrounding neighborhood area within the City of Dover, Delaware. The target area is designated as a Downtown Development District and also as an Opportunity Zone, indicating that this is the high priority target area for redevelopment and reinvestment.

The DDP is committed to driving an improved quality of life for the residents and visitors of Dover, Delaware, through collective collaboration, economic development and promotion of downtown Dover's unique historic properties. As such, core areas of DDP's responsibility are strengthening economic opportunity in the central core of the Capital City of Dover through effective business recruitment, retention, and expansion; creating an environment that is conducive to effective property redevelopment and reinvestment; and revitalizing the community to increase viability and sustainability of the business district and surrounding neighborhoods. This area for priority redevelopment is adjacent to the state legislative campus, City Hall, the public library, numerous state offices, the historic landscape of Delaware's National Park known as "The Green", the new Dover Post Office and Family Court locations, and other amenities that make the core of the city unique.

The City of Dover is not a partner to this RFP. Nevertheless, the City and many other public and private stakeholders are philosophical and financial partners in, and integral to, the work of the DDP in daily operations and initiatives, including the City of Dover, Kent County, the State of Delaware, several key non-profits, and a broad range of individuals that have invested in Dover, Delaware, including but not limited to residents, workers, merchants, and property owners.

The DDP seeks and is pleased to invite interested individuals, agencies, and/or teams (each, a "Respondent") to submit a response to this RFP (each, a "Response") to develop a Downtown Dover Strategic Master Plan that will invite grassroots input and include implementation and investment strategies to guide development and reinvestment, with the goal of bringing this vital core of commerce and housing to its highest and best potential by a target date of the year 2030.

1.2 Process

The DDP is issuing this RFP to receive responses from vendors to develop a Downtown Dover Strategic Master Plan (SMP) that will include grassroots input and strategies for implementation and reinvestment, as further detailed in Section 1.4 Project Objectives and Goals. The DDP may or may not select a Respondent as an outcome. All Respondents must comply with this RFP and are cautioned to completely review the entire RFP and to follow the instructions carefully.

Each Response shall take into consideration and address the Project Objectives and Goals as identified in Section 1.4. Addenda that may become necessary during the RFP process (each an "Addendum") will be made available publicly and each such Addendum will become a material part of this RFP.

This RFP does not commit or bind the DDP to enter into a contract or proceed with any next step related to development of a strategic master plan. This RFP is not to be construed as an offer to enter into a contractual relationship. The DDP assumes no obligations, responsibilities, or liabilities, fiscal or otherwise, to reimburse all or part of the costs incurred or alleged to have been incurred by parties considering a response to, or responding to, this RFP. All such costs shall be borne solely by each Respondent.

The DDP reserves the right to waive technicalities, to reject any or all Responses or recommendations, or any portion thereof, to seek new responses, to proceed to do the work otherwise, or to abandon the work, if the DDP chooses for any reason to do so.

Project Area and Overview

Downtown Dover and adjacent residential neighborhoods continue to suffer from physical decline and disinvestment, as exhibited by a nearly 50% vacancy rate of commercial properties and low homeownership (+/- 55%). This area of central Dover has been designated as "high-priority redevelopment target area" by both the state and city as evidenced by designation as both an Opportunity Zone and a DE Downtown Development District. (Reference 1.4 Project Objectives and Goals)

Ongoing issues, including safety, vagrancy, vacancy, business retention/recruitment obstacles, lack of strong investment, and lack of a current master plan to unify partner efforts continue to severely limit the center city from rising to its highest and best capacity as a thriving area of commerce and homeownership, particularly for those of low- and moderate income. Results of the DDP and aligned partners' meaningful efforts to-date have given us glimpses of success as a thriving rural downtown community in which to live, work, and shop, but this "heart of Dover" has not yet met the "tipping point" for solid, substantial revitalization.

The proposed master planning process and outcome will reflect a "lean urbanism" philosophy. (Reference: ) It will engage this diverse local community in visioning and planning, including minority, underrepresented and low-income populations, and the aligned investment strategy upon implementation of the plan (beyond scope of the requested planning) will engage both traditional investors as well as a broad array of individuals in the community, diverse in ethnicity, MHI (Median Household Income), affluence, gender, age, and ability. It will also seek to develop opportunities for a local workforce.

The proposed SMP will include strategies for additional market-rate housing and increased entrepreneurial opportunity and result in Dover's strengthened core exhibiting both residential and business activity that reflects value for not only its current diverse community, but a community reinforced by the next generation of leaders, including those from Delaware State University, Bayhealth's new residents program, Dover Air Force Base singles and officers who choose to live outside of the base, and a workforce that chooses to simultaneously live and work in the central Dover geography. Further, sustainable transformation of Delaware's Capital City of Dover to an exceptional, vibrant, reimagined core of commerce and community will prove valuable to the state and surrounding region for years to come.

Over a million people stand to benefit from a revitalized business district that will regularly attract a new, young population while providing an increased quality of life and economic, entrepreneurial, and housing opportunities for all those that have already invested in the community, including minorities, those that are disabled, veterans, and other marginalized populations. The plan will benefit Dover City's population of +/- 38,000, an additional +/- 16,000 who work in Dover but live outside of the City, and destination shoppers from Delaware (total 975,000) and the Eastern Shore of Maryland with a population of 420,000.

For Quick Facts on the City of Dover, DE, visit:

1.4 Project Objectives and Goals

(a.) The final Strategic Master Plan will:

  1. Invite and engage broad public input and build consensus in development of the plan, including a written vision for the project area;
  2. Include strategies, or set of strategies, that will reflect a "lean urbanism" philosophy;
  3. Ensure that the uniqueness and authenticity of downtown Dover is celebrated, while finding ways to enhance the project target area with market-based, progressive ideas;
  4. Include:
    1. At least five (5) conceptual designs for key redevelopment sites; and
    2. At least five (5) compelling conceptual designs for entry points or other landmark sites; and
    3. Additional compelling, tailored illustrations and/or images to excite viewers and convey the vision and recommendations for target project area projected to be realized over the next eight years at an inspiring level of quality.
  5. Become an inspirational and frequently referenced document for implementation by the DDP, project partners and stakeholders;
  6. Take into consideration a review of materials created previously related to the City's downtown planning and current status, transit, parking solutions, designations, etc., as listed in the full RFP.

(b.) The SMP process and final plan will examine issues and make recommendations on the following topics:

  • Physical Environment
    • Disclose a unified vision and will include an implementation strategy to ensure appropriate redevelopment of Dover, to include an implementation timeline;
    • Determine appropriate height and density for downtown and identify strategic places where height is appropriate;
    • Evaluate existing C-2, C-2A, IO, RGO, and RG-1 zoning and other land use and development regulations within the downtown boundary for change or expansion opportunities;
    • Examine transportation connectivity downtown, including bicycle and pedestrian, and how better connections can be made across streets, in compliance with ADA Title II requirements;
    • Analyze the adequacy of existing infrastructure including utilities, storm water, sanitary sewer and roads;
    • Analyze the adequacy of public, open green spaces and make recommendations for future locations;
    • Identify opportunity sites for larger, mixed-use developments, including market-rate residential, ensuring their connectivity;
    • Identify potential sites or a "campus" for social services to address needs of vagrants, homeless, and transitioning individuals;
    • Identify opportunity sites for small scale and incremental development that are consistent with the "lean urbanism" concepts;
    • Provide planning and zoning recommendations to support strategies of the SMP; and
    • Ensure familiarity of the comprehensive parking strategy as developed in 2021 by the DDP.
  • Market Analysis
    • Evaluate market gaps and opportunities;
    • Identify business categories that will, based on market analysis, likely be successful, while complementing existing retailers in project area;
    • Inform and strategize for attraction and retention of businesses, residents and visitors, as well as a work force for a potentially new "Post-COVID" economy, and where possible, project future growth and market trends;
    • Identify and integrate local workforce needs and opportunities. (I.e.; strategize for employment of the local community, college, and vo-tech audiences; and
    • Identify market-rate housing opportunities and incentives for people to reside in the project area.
  • Financial
    • Recommend sources of funds to implement strategies as identified in the final SMP document; and
    • Identify opportunities and key projects for reinvestment, considering both traditional and non-traditional investors.
  • Design
    • Ensure design recommendations complement the historic landscape;
    • Consider development of a riverwalk asset as considered in previous plans for downtown Dover;
    • Assess pedestrian amenities, and enhance where appropriate;
    • Identify and incorporate CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) strategies;
    • Examine City's existing downtown wayfinding signage and make recommendations for possible improvements; and
    • Recommend zoning districts and classifications, form-based approaches and/or other contemporary approaches.
  • Implementation Strategy
    • Identify specific action items and timing for all recommendations; and include same in a matrix or reference chart for ease of use;
    • Involve the City of Dover's Planning Department to incorporate the SMP into the City's existing downtown 3-D (GIS) model and Comprehensive Plan, where applicable.
    • Provide SMP files, in a variety of formats, for public distribution and awareness of plan (i.e.; GIS layers, in concert with City, if applicable, PDF, internet-formatted plan, marketing-type summary brochure, etc.). Materials produced as part of the SMP project shall be the property of the DDP.
  • Public Engagement
    • Work with the DDP to identify key stakeholders (to include but not be limited to project partners) within the project area and develop a Stakeholder Committee at the beginning of the project;
    • Use creative strategies for public engagement and broad and diverse project participation with all racial, ethnic, and cultural communities within the project area and work with DDP to establish a meeting schedule;
    • Facilitate meetings, workshops, interviews, and development of public outreach materials, to include public and private sector entities and individuals; and
    • Coordinate with public sector officials/agencies and private sector stakeholders to understand the context and outcome of previous plans, studies, and initiatives associated with the redevelopment of the downtown area, including those identified in Project Objectives and Goals, Section 1.4 (a.)

All responses are due to the Downtown Dover Partnership by or before noon on August 20.

For full RFP details of submission, including dates, submission materials and forms required, visit:

Request Type
Request Type
Friday, August 20, 2021
Contact Information Website
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