Building Developed by Jumpstart Wilmington Graduate Provides 10-Units of Apartment Homes for Seniors

Father/daughter development team Marva Hammond and Charlie Falletta joined with Cinnaire, local officials and community members to celebrate the grand opening for the Southbridge Community Services Building (SBCS) this week. The SBCS is a newly developed, mixed-use project with the first phase consisting of 10-units of affordable housing and retail space. The much anticipated project is part of the greater revitalization in the Southbridge neighborhood providing affordable housing for vulnerable populations and the goal to inspire others to develop in Southbridge. It is the first development completed by a Jumpstart Wilmington graduate.

In 2020, Marva and Charlie purchased a blighted and vacant factory to support their mission to bring affordable housing opportunities to Delaware residents one property at a time. They partnered with the Southbridge Civic Association to conduct a community needs assessment and as a result, created a plan for a mixed-use building providing affordable housing paired with commercial space providing a retail opportunity to serve a local business. The developers worked with the Hope Center, a local temporary shelter, to offer residents at the shelter the opportunity to attain an affordable place to call home.

Speakers at the event included owners/developers Marva Hammond and Charlie Falletta; Dionna Sargent, Vice President of Community Development at Cinnaire; Eugene Young, Director of the Delaware State Housing Authority; Senator Darius Brown, representing Delaware’s 2nd District; Franklin Cooke, Representative from Delaware’s 16th district; Matt Meyer, County Executive; Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Secretary Shawn Garvin.

“None of us can solve all the problems in the world, but we can all do a little something to make a difference,” said Charlie Falletta, owner and developer of Southbridge Community Services. “This project is the little something that my daughter Marva and I did to make this part of Wilmington a little better.”

“Affordable housing is a right that every citizen deserves and everyone should have,” said Marva Hammond, co-owner and developer of Southbridge Community Services. “This building is our small part to bring more affordable housing to the neighborhood and our hope is to be able to expand the property to include six more affordable housing units to serve more people in the Southbridge community.”

“There is not enough affordable housing in Wilmington and I want to do something about that. This has been a three-year project. In March 2020, my father and I purchased a blighted factory in Southbridge that had been vacant since the late 1960s. My father owns Ecoplastics, and we have a strong belief in revising and recycling. Rather than tear the building down, we decided to preserve the history of Southbridge that is alive in this building. We are so happy to provide these brand new units to seniors from the Hope Center that have experienced homelessness and faced challenges.”

“We are honored to celebrate this grand opening with Marva Hammond, a 2021 Jumpstart Wilmington graduate,” said Dionna Sargent, Vice President of Community Development at Cinnaire. “Cinnaire launched Jumpstart Wilmington in 2020 to increase local developer capacity in Wilmington. Our goal is to promote the growth of local developers through training and development to support neighborhood revitalization just like this project.

“Through Jumpstart Wilmington, we want to change the face of development by increasing diversity and supporting women and people of color who want to enter the real estate development field. Marva and this project are a shining example of this philosophy. Knowing the affordable housing needs in Wilmington, we are grateful for her investing in this project with the goal of serving some of our most vulnerable populations,” Sargent added.

“Marva Hammond is a remarkable citizen and we need more people like her,” said Eugene Young, Director of the Delaware State Housing Authority. “At the same time she was developing this building in her spare time, Marva has been working with the DEHAP program helping to distribute $130 million in relief funds to 22,000 households in the state. Her work is a testimony to who she is, her beliefs, values and her sense of community. These are qualities we need more of in our city.

“Right now, Wilmington is experiencing a sheer lack of affordable housing units, currently between 15,000 and 20,000. We need to all collectively join the effort started by Marva and her father. Between this building in Southbridge and two miles to Eastside Charter, there will be approximately $220 million invested in schools, libraries, community centers, and renovating homes. This project is the beginning of that and I look forward to fighting for affordable housing with our community in the future,” he said.

“Our goal is simply to build better neighborhoods and it starts by investing in the people here in Southbridge to create an example and model for other areas of our city to follow,” said Senator Darius Brown, representing Delaware’s 2nd District. “I want to thank Cinnaire for its investment in our communities and how over several years, they have supported the ideas and aspiration of Delawareans and brought them to this incubating environment to prepare and train aspiring developers to do great projects like the SBCS.”

“I grew up in the Southbridge area. This building is a valuable part of the Southbridge landscape and its history,” said Franklin Cooke, Representative from Delaware’s 16th district. “It was last used as a carpet factory and was closed after a fire set during a protest following the assassination of Martin Luther King. Traces of the soot from that fire can be seen on the ceiling in yet to be finished parts of this building. I’m proud that the historical significance and original structure of this building has been retained.”

“Working with The Hope Center, the biggest problem we hear is that there is no affordable homes for the residents to transition to,” said Matt Meyer, County Executive. “This project provides a safe, affordable home for seniors that have faced homelessness and many challenges. We need more projects like this.”

The SBCS features 10 efficiency units in an environmentally friendly building that includes solar panels installed to reduce utility expenses for its residents.  The project was developed on a Brownfield site with remediation funding and oversight by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

“Through the Brownfield program former industrial sites like this historic building have been remediated,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Recycling and reusing is central to this project and we have invested more than $200,000 in remediating environmental contamination issues.”

About Jumpstart Wilmington

Jumpstart Wilmington promotes the growth of local developer capacity through training and development to support neighborhood revitalization and community development solutions. Increased local developer capacity is essential to scaling development activity and revitalizing communities more rapidly. The program provides aspiring developers who live in Wilmington with the skills, knowledge, and support they need to rehabilitate fundamental projects one at a time.

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