Della led a team that was retained by the City of Portsmouth for a three-year contract focusing on downtown revitalization issues. Once an Ohio Valley industrial powerhouse, Portsmouth’s Central Business District is in the process of rebuilding vitality after decades of disinvestment.
Della and the team began the process by conducting a detailed evaluation of Downtown Portsmouth’s physical needs, social environment and organizational capacity. This evaluation identified several key urban environment issues, ranging from property deterioration to parking lot design. Della also prepared a detailed Market Analysis for the downtown area — a Market Analysis that could not use conventional economic data sources, because those sources showed almost no economic opportunities due to the poverty of the surrounding areas. Instead of settling for such dismal results, Della identified a number of overlooked, opportunities for new business development based on Downtown Portsmouth’s existing assets, including its daytime population and its role as a regional destination for a variety of specialized goods and services.
Della then worked with an Advisory Committee consisting of residents, business owners and representatives of major institutions to develop a Strategic Plan, which resulted in a simple shared agenda. The Strategic Plan crystallized Downtown Portsmouth’s primary needs into six Major Initiatives and developed a detailed Task List that set benchmarks, estimated funding needs and assigned responsibilities to a variety of community partners. The Strategic Plan is still used today as a key rallying point for the entire community